As you know, good communication is vital to the health of a relationship. But what is good communication? One important element is respect. Without it, your communication can be very damaging to the relationship. No matter what the conflict or how intense the emotions, commit to treating your partner with respect and kindness as the first step toward healthy communication and a healthy marriage.
What are the boundaries for effective conflict resolution in marriage? Often, when couples get married, they come into the marriage with unspoken expectations. A common one that comes up is the right to free expression. I should and have the right to express every emotion that I have in the name of honesty. Hogwash!! This can be incredibly damaging to a relationship! Some of this may sound contradictory to that last post that talked about being your genuine selves with each other, but in there I mentioned there has to be boundaries. Well in this post we are talking about those boundaries with the understanding that unbridled self expression can be very damaging to a relationship. It might feel good in the moment, but what feels good in the moment is not necessarily for the benefit of the relationship. Everything you say and do in your relationship will either move you closer together or push you further apart. So ask yourself that question when you are about to “express” yourself. Is this going to bring you closer or push you further?
Here’s an example: when my husband is with the kids for a few hours, I come home and the house is a disaster. If I were to come home and start complaining that the house is a mess, he might feel resentful that I don’t appreciate the time he spent with the kids so I could have some time for myself. I might feel annoyed that the house is a mess, but for the sake of the relationship and my husband’s feelings, I keep that to myself and focus on appreciating his efforts. Is that disingenuous? I don’t think so, because both feelings exist, but I choose to express the ones that will draw me closer to my spouse.
Think about how you can do this in your marriage. Next post I will write about how to express dissatisfaction about something in the relationship without pushing your partner away.
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A guided path to recovery and healing
If there has been an affair in your marriage, marriage counseling can help understand and heal difficult emotions of anger, rage, confusion, guilt, disappointment, betrayal, and loss.
Right now you might be trying to figure out if you want to stay in the marriage or go. When an affair is first discovered, a couple enters into a crisis. It is very difficult to make life changing decisions when your world is turned upside down. Counseling can help stabilize this crisis so you can figure out how to move forward.
Directed discussion can help you both understand why and how the affair happened, uncover underlying emotional experiences that contributed to the affair, understand the negative patterns that may have existed in your relationship (how did we get here?), figure out if the marriage can be saved, and begin the healing process.
Trust and boundaries are important parts of a healthy marriage. When infidelity occurs, it violates the boundaries and breaks down trust. Trust can be rebuilt but it takes time and effort. It may seem that the marriage cannot be saved, but through hard work, understanding, compassion, open and honest communication and commitment, it can happen if it is what you want. Counseling provides a sense of hope and a map to get there.
On my blog, I have written about some success stories of couples healing from infidelity. There is great pain and suffering when a trauma like this happens. Whether you decide to save your marriage or not, counseling can be an integral part of bringing growth, understanding, and healing.
Marriage counseling can give you the tools to heal from the affair, get relief from pain, gain understanding and make the best decision for how to move forward.
We are here and ready to help. Contact us today.