Do you and your partner avoid conflict?
All human relationships involve some amount of disagreement. It seems that part of being human is to put one's ideas forward for feedback, and to offer opinion on one another's ideas. And as anyone who's ever been in a relationship will tell you, rarely do you always agree.
So how do you and your partner respond when you disagree?
John Gottman PhD, the country's leading relationship researcher, has said it that couples will naturally proceed in one of two directions when they are not effective in managing conflict. They will either have more frequent arguments, or avoid conflict whenever possible.
So what happens when couples avoid conflict?
Usually, resentment develops. But at the Gay Couples Institute we have seen that as resentment increases, so does emotional disengagement. People seem to think that if their negative emotions cannot be safely expressed, neither can their positive emotions.
When people are feeling emotionally disengaged they will also report that they feel lonely, even though they're in a relationship. And to make matters worse, often when they do try to manage the conflict it comes out in an emotionally overwhelming manner, leaving both of them feeling even more unsuccessful.
If this is happening in your relationship, typically two things need to happen simultaneously. First, the two of you obviously need skills with which to manage conflict, and the tension that it brings up for each of you. Second, the two of you will have to work on your friendship in order to counteract the resentment that has built up over the years. Usually doing just one of those two items is not going to be enough. The good news is that most couples are successful in this endeavor, and if you'd like some help or coaching with this very issue don't hesitate to contact us. We're here to help and want to see your relationship thrive.