communication issues in couples therapy The approach you take when you initiate a conversation with your spouse determines whether or not you get through, or stay outside feeling unseen and unheard. In this second of the series on couples communication issues, you will learn why your partner shuts down, shuts you out and shuts down the relationship. You will also discover how your expectations of your partner's words and intentions can effect receptivity, making the difference between being invited in, or being shut out.
Couples communication issues is by far the biggest impetus that draws partners into couples therapy. One person describes the frustrating experience of not being able to get through their partner’s wall, no matter how hard they try. Then the other one says there is no point listening because they know exactly what’s going to be said, and it’s all a load of nonsense! Perhaps you too have felt excluded from your partner’s life, which not only angers you but leads to misunderstandings that have long term implications for how much you trust one and other. Often one member of a couple comes into therapy already having ‘given up!’ They start off with, “what’s the point?” and nine times out of ten it’s the opening salvo in ensuring that no one is going to get past each other’s defensive moats. But what may surprise you is that despite the fact that you feel like there isn’t any communication going on, THERE IS, and plenty of it.
Have you met the love of your life, but feel uneasy because your partner is divorced? Do you wonder whether their history intruding on your new and exciting relationship? Are you wondering if your lover will leave you and go back to their ex, because their family before you is first and will always be more magnetic than you? Dating a person who is divorced when you yourself have never been married is a challenge and can stir up a lot of discomfort, leeriness and loss of self-confidence.
Anxiety caused by relationship stress is the greatest precursor to Erectile Dysfunction that men face. The International Journal of Impotence Research (2003) reports that "anxiety plays a major role in the development of problems associated with Erectile Dysfunction." Anxiety is an experience of anticipating a future threat or danger. The sympathetic nervous sytem gets ready to meet that danger by providing blood flow to your limbs so you can fight off an enemy or run for safety. Either way you need energy. But when you have no real enemy or threat, all that energy is floating around in the form of adrenalin, making you antsy, edgy and unable to relax. When you are in that state you are not up for being aroused sexually, because that would mean talking your eye of the potential threat.
Are you frustrated and angry that you never know what's going on with your spouse and resent having to ask? Maybe you feel that your partner is not matching your expectations but have given up on trying to get through. If you are the husband you probably keep it in, make jokes about marriage with your friends, and try to keep the peace at home. But you are not likely to go to your family and talk about it - not to them, and especially not to or with your wife! But, if you are the wife, you may drop little hints here and there to your husband that he is disappointing or annoying you, maybe even hurting you by not being as involved as you would like.
Have you ever been told to keep a journal and felt your heart sink to your boots? Is the idea of journaling stressful in itself? Perhaps you don't want to dwell on what's going on inside you because its messy Maybe you want to feel strong and the best way of doing it is to ignore bad feelings and hope they will just go away. You may be veery good at keeping your anger, stress, resentment, revengeful thoughts and feelings under cover, but they have a way of coming out in full force when you are least expecting it. Out of the blue a small irritation turns into a melt down and you don't understand how this could have happened. Your store of anger and stressful experiences found a tiny window when you got irritated and used that moment to escape, embarrasing you in the process.
Have you ever been accused of having “abandonment issues”? Maybe you feel abandoned when that phrase is used as a reason to walk away from you instead of working through the problems at hand. Perhaps you believe you have abandonment issues because past relationships have ended making you feel abandoned, unloved and unimportant. To some extent everyone feels abandoned from time to time, but most get over it, experiencing it as a passing blip on the radar, that soon disappears in the richness of a relationship that offers other fulfilling moments. These blips don’t destroy an otherwise firm and secure connection to your significant other. It’s when those blips feel like huge meteors reigning down on you and destroying your footing, taking away your confidence and purpose, that experiences of abandonment can negatively influence your romantic relationships.
Have you ever felt that your loved one took out their anger, frustration and anxiety out on you? Do feel like a walking target for your family member’s angst with the world, just because you are there? Maybe you have spoken up and said that you don’t want to be their dustbin and or punching bag, and yet it has stayed exactly the same. You continue to feel the butt of your loved ones stress and worry and anger that their world isn’t right. There is a constant undercurrent of tension and conflict in your relationship and you can’t seem to fix it. There is an explanation for your partner taking it out on you.
Sorting out the laundry one Thursday evening, Marsha, a 37 year-old antique dealer found a receipt in her 40-year-old husband Terry’s jeans pocket. Stunned into paralysis as she unfolded the crumpled paper, she knew immediately that she had been cheated on. A hotel receipt, paid for in cash, for a large suite and room service obviously for more than one person. With a throbbing head, trembling hands and a hot flush enveloping her, Marsha called her best friend. Toni was the only one Marsha could trust to understand and make her feel better. After sharing her shock and realizing that Terry had been cheating, a montage of images flashed through her mind like a dizzy slide show. Signs that she had ignored over the last few months now stood out and wrapped her over the knuckles for not paying closer attention.
Getting dressed to go out to a friend’s house for a dinner party, thirty-three-year-old realtor Mara felt a pang of jealousy invade her body. An image of Ray, their host, always smartly dressed contrasted sharply with her thirty-five-year-old husband Seth, an entertainment lawyer, togged out in shorts, Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops! Driving to the event was uncomfortable. Mara wanted to disown her husband. She felt out of alignment with him and when they arrived at Ray’s place, envy crept up from the pit of her stomach to the roots of her hair. She snapped at Seth, openly disparaging him in front of others.