Did you find yourself getting frustrated about the same things with your partner over and over? You’ve stated your requests again and again – why can’t your spouse just GET IT? Does it seem you’re both stating the very same things during each conflict? You are not alone. Many partners have core fights that they repeat in different iterations. And many times it begins with something seemingly small, such as…
- Talking loudly on the phone
- Not washing breakfast dishes
- Taking too long to get ready then leaving late
Add to this the changes to our work schedules and lifestyle due to the pandemic. Many couples are spending A LOT more time home together (remember we used to work outside the home and be apart 9-10 hours/day?!) and experiencing the stress and anxiety of the STILL ongoing pandemic. Both are compounding frustration spouses can feel with each other.
Consider that it is not really whether the partner puts the cap back on the toothpaste, but rather what message this is sending to the partner who asked them for this “simple” request. Very often there’s a deeper meaning below the surface (in addition to your preference for the actual item to be done). For example…
- If your partner lowers his/her voice on the phone, you’ll feel respected
- If your partner cleans his/her own breakfast dishes, you’ll feel cared for
- If your partner gets ready faster, you’ll leave on time and feel calmer
- If your partner started making the bed, you’d feel heard
There’s another layer here: everyone has different priorities and preferences as they move throughout the day. One sees making the bed as key to a successful day, another doesn’t even notice whether the bed is made or not. Calling these habits to each other’s attention can cause some friction. Continued “ignoring” or “overlooking” of these requests can cause full-blown arguments.
What do you find you and your partner repeatedly arguing about? Ask yourself to drop down a little deeper:
- What does it mean when you see him/her not doing this task for the 10th time?
- What is your underlying need (cared for, calmness, respect…)?
Could this be about having different priorities?
In couples therapy we can identify the repetitive arguments that a couple is having in their relationship, process the meaning of these arguments, and the messages that get sent. We can also explore childhood memories and how they may be impacting or showing up in the current family dynamics. Another goal could be to find a compromise on tasks and decide which idiosyncrasies of our partner that we can let go, and which we cannot.
If any of this is resonating with you, or if you or you and your partner are struggling with these issues and they’re impacting your relationship and family life, don’t suffer in silence. Reach out to get help by calling us at 908-246-3074 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an individual or couples appointment.