Conflict and Communication

/Conflict and Communication
Conflict and Communication 2016-12-12T14:55:18+00:00

Do You Feel Misunderstood Or Unloved In Your Relationship?

portrait of an angry young African guy and back of a woman at the backgroundDo you feel like your relationship has become overrun with tension and fighting? Is it hard to resolve conflict without one person blowing up or shutting down? Does your partner complain that you overreact or are too critical? Perhaps you are the one who feels continuously attacked and helpless when disagreements quickly escalate out of control. You may feel like you walk on eggshells to avoid issues and maintain connection with your partner. Maybe you find yourself becoming increasingly frustrated, angry or defensive in your relationship. Perhaps you and your partner fall into the same arguments over and over, or you end up fighting about how you are fighting without ever finding solutions.  Alternately, you may disengage from discussions and negative interactions to try to reduce conflict, but notice that it leaves you feeling alone and disconnected. 

As you and your partner struggle to express yourselves clearly and understand one another, you may begin to doubt yourself or your relationship. You may question whether you are really compatible or worry that your relationship will end in a break-up or divorce. Despite these concerns, you may still be yearning for the sense of understanding and connection you once felt in the relationship.

Almost Every Couple Deals With Communication Challenges

parents qurraling in front of children

Partners enter relationships with different personalities and unique sets of experiences, including ways of communicating and coping with emotions. For example, you might believe it is best to address challenges directly and immediately in hopes of preventing relationship or marriage problems from recurring. Your partner, on the other hand, may prefer to avoid issues when they arise, believing it is more effective to deal with them at a later or better time. So when you try to raise an issue, you may notice that your partner becomes defensive and responds by withdrawing or shutting down the conversation or by lashing out, both of which leave you feeling frustrated and alone. Alternately, your partner might feel frustrated that s/he is always being criticized or getting it wrong and try to avoid the issue out of fear that engaging will result in the breakup of the relationship. And, though you are each actually trying to do what you believe is best and protect the relationship, you both feel misunderstood, unappreciated, unheard and unloved.

Conflict in intimate relationships is both natural and common; however, many couples interpret their underlying personality and communication style differences as a sign that they simply aren’t compatible.  This is a myth. Research shows that even the most happily married couples argue and even sometimes have loud, screaming matches. However, their fights don’t end up in anger and disconnection; instead, conflict ends either with a repair or with openness and understanding of difficult feelings of vulnerability. These couples use behaviors and skills that they have learned to find each other, maintain connection and resolve the conflict.

You, too, can learn skills and techniques to listen to your partner as well as communicate your feelings and needs more clearly and effectively so you can feel closer and connected. With couples counseling at Relationship HQ, formerly Dr. Bukky & Associates, in New York City, you can learn to open up, understand each other and repair hurts and wounds, including the unresolved ones that keep echoing in the relationship. Together, you can work to resolve conflict in a way that makes you both feel secure, bonded and on the same team instead of angry, distant and disconnected from each other.

Couples Counseling Can Help You Communicate Better And Feel Closer To Your Partner

Couple_Tender moment_lesbian coupleMany couples feel stuck in patterns of relationship conflict, focusing on the content of each argument and feelings of anger and frustration instead of underlying emotions. These underlying emotions are often connected to our needs and feelings of vulnerability, and they drive our behavior and color our interpretations. For example, you and your partner may argue about lateness, but at the root of the conflict might be a sense of your partner feeling unimportant and forgotten. When this more important feeling is not being addressed, you are stuck fighting about how late you were, how your partner feels disrespected or how you feel your partner is overreacting and being unreasonable. At Relationship HQ, we can help you understand and express the most important aspect of the conversation which, when addressed, will directly improve communication and resolve conflict. With the right guidance and support, you can understand why your relationship is struggling and learn to open up to each other so you can both feel understood and loved.

We offer a safe space and compassionate support so you can feel comfortable identifying and working through relationship challenges. Our experienced therapists can help you recognize why you feel unhappy, unheard or unloved and how that may be affecting your communication with your partner. Couples communication counseling gives you a place where you can speak candidly, without fear of being judged, blamed or criticized. As you learn to share and empathize with your partner in a more open and authentic way, you can work together to address the root of your relationship issues.

When you first come in for couples communication counseling, we will meet with both of you together to understand your relationship history, the challenges you are facing and your strengths and goals as a couple. We then follow up with one-on-one sessions so you can share your individual experience of the relationship and give us a snap shot of your relationship models. Our goal is to help you and your partner understand why you react the way you do and how the other may interpret your behavior. You can also learn to recognize the fear, loneliness, feelings of inadequacy or other painful emotions that may be driving your partner’s behavior instead of assuming he or she does not care about you and your opinion.  Even more, you can learn how to respond in a healthy and productive way that strengthens your relationship.

We use emotionally focused therapy for couples, an experiential, evidence-based approach that will help you tune in to the emotions that are driving the cycle of difficult conversations and interactions in your relationship. When you understand why you and your partner feel the way you do, you can find more productive ways together to respond to the challenges you are facing. We can help you slow down so you can recognize what is truly happening during moments of conflict. By each of you taking responsibility for your own part in your shared communication process, you can learn how to share your experience and emotions more clearly and break the cycle of miscommunication with your partner.

The therapists at Relationship HQ – you may know us as Dr. Bukky & Associates – have been helping individuals and couples manage and overcome communication challenges for 10 years. We understand that you and your partner are both trying to share your experience and we strive to help you develop more effective communication skills. Relationship counseling can give you the resources and support you need to reconnect with your partner and navigate your challenges together.

But, you may still have questions or concerns about couples counseling…

I’m embarrassed about needing couples counseling.

The sense of embarrassment you are experiencing makes sense – it is related to the fact that we live in an environment and culture that tells us that relationships are easy and that we should be able to fix things on our own. But ask yourself, how can a relationship be easy when it involves two different people with different perspectives and life experiences? Unless both of you have learned how to cope with emotions and communicate your needs and feelings of vulnerability in an open way, it is unrealistic to expect that you would never deal with communication challenges. 

The difficulties you are experiencing don’t mean that you are weak or that your relationship is broken. Relationships require work and everyone needs a little help identifying and addressing issues from time to time. It takes a great deal of courage to choose couples therapy or marriage counseling when you and your partner are struggling to connect and understand each other.

What can I do if my partner doesn’t want to come in for relationship counseling?

There are a variety of reasons your partner may resist the idea of communication counseling. S/he may feel embarrassed for needing therapy, afraid of being blamed or worried that attending therapy will create more problems and cause the relationship to end. At Relationship HQ, we work with you to understand and resolve the conflict, not feed it. We focus on helping remove the blocks that are getting in the way of the messages you are trying to send each other.

You can help your partner by inviting him/her to tell you more about the hesitation to attend therapy, offering understanding and empathy to him/her and asking how you can address those concerns together. For some couples, calling our office together to ask questions, get a sense of our style and discuss how we can help strengthen the relationship can be a good start. If your partner remains unwilling, you might consider doing your own individual work to focus on how you may be contributing to negative interactions and find more helpful ways to navigate your relationship.

How long will couples counseling take? I’m not sure we’ll make it if we don’t get help right now.

It is impossible to prescribe or predict how long couples therapy will take. Our work together depends on your collective willingness to understand yourselves and the impact you are having on each other. Couples who quickly understand and accept that their relationship difficulties are the result of a negative interaction cycle and agree to team up to work against that cycle move through the process most quickly. Nevertheless, many couples report that they start to experience relief the moment they begin taking steps to address their challenges together, often leaving our first session with feelings of hope. 

You Can Foster An Open, Honest Relationship

Are you ready to escape the cycle of conflict and miscommunication in your relationship? Do you still have questions about couples counseling and how it can improve communication in your relationship? We invite you to contact Relationship HQ at 212.730.7400 to schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation. We can meet in person in our New York City office or over the phone to discuss your situation, respond to any questions you may have and determine if you would benefit from couples counseling.

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