Resolving Couple/Marital Conflict

What Happened to “Happily Ever After”?

Image of little girl saddened by parents arguing They came into the office wondering how it had all come to this. Their relationship was falling apart right before their eyes. They were bickering and exasperated day in and day out. It was exhausting both of them. They wondered aloud how they had gotten to this point.  What changed from the romantic courtship that they had enjoyed? What happened to the “happily ever after” they envisioned early on in their relationship? Things were so good back then and are just so difficult right now. Each wonders if the relationship can be saved.

Sound familiar? It is. You are not alone if you are experiencing some of what is described above. The good news is that generally speaking, there can be hope—that is, if you are ready to do some self-reflection, willing to take responsibility, and courageous enough to begin to change—yourself. I fear I may have lost you there. It’s hard to hear, isn’t it? It’s just so much more convenient to blame our partners. But in moments when we are honest with ourselves, we find confirmation of the haunting hunch that we do indeed play a part in the dance we are doing with our partner. Ouch. What do we do with this information? One thing we can do is become aware of and take steps to change our own behaviors.

Those who research how couples interact have identified consistent patterns of behavior that point toward couple satisfaction as well as patterns that often predict couple dissatisfaction. Again, this is good news. We are starting to “get” what causes relationships to go south and what corrective behaviors can be helpful in pulling a relationship out of a nosedive. Your relationship does not necessarily have to crash and burn. But you have to want to work at all the elements involved. And there may be more than you think. There are three entities that require attention and care in close relationships. These entities are you, your partner, and the relationship.

So—this leaves us with a few questions. Are you taking care of yourself? Are you in touch with your partner’s needs and desires? AND are both of you taking responsibility for the care of your relationship? What would your relationship say about this if it could weigh in?

If you would like to explore these things further, please contact me. Relationship repair is not impossible. We can learn a lot about what behaviors and attitudes detract and enhance relationships. But it does require focused attention and adjustments on our part. Don’t spend time just wishing, hoping, and waiting. It doesn’t just magically happen like the “happily ever after” in fairy tales.

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DISCLAIMER: The information included in this article does not apply to relationships where abuse or violence in any form is present.