Relationship styles vary widely. Some people are able to keep very engaged and loving, even if it means they openly clash once in a while. Others never really dare to enjoy the intimacy or become comfortable with the wrangling, and are willing to settle for less connection if it means less trouble. My own father, a decent and hardy man born to a tough pioneer life, once defined happiness as “the absence of pain.” He preferred to keep things quiet and simple. And my mother, a vibrant woman from the sophiscated old world, never understood or forgave that of him.
Today, smart couples recognize that some amount of difficulty or conflict is inevitable in relationships. In fact, sometimes a lack of “fighting” is a warning sign that one or both partners are avoiding important concerns that can later surface in a more damaging way. We help couples learn how to identify and negotiate looming issues, communicate without ignoring or escalating, and problem-solve on their own.
But more than any specific issues, the “content” of arguments, a major cause of discord in relationships is the mismatch itself between those who are avoidant of conflict and those who are anxious about the relationship. We specialize in helping with this fundamental concern that couples find difficult to identify or address on their own.
Even if your relationship is not at immediate risk of breaking up, and you can tolerate any disharmony or coolness, those around you do notice. Your family life is the “school of relationships” for your children. They implicitly absorb the home atmosphere and their parents’ manner of relationship as their model of “normal”. If there is any doubt about whether seeing a counselor is necessary, ask yourself whether you would be satisfied if your children had a relationship like yours, or whether it would be worthwhile giving both them and yourselves a happier life. Show them how to do it right.