All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Leo Tolstoy 

Relationship Conflict ©

Communication is an essential ingredient in maintaining a healthy relationship. It is vital for couples to regularly set aside time to sit and openly discuss how they are feeling. It is necessary for couples to temporarily put aside other important responsibilities such as household chores, parenting, financial planning etc. to discuss their personal subjects. All relationships require work and will face challenges both large and small. Everyday stressors, be they simple or complex can strain a relationship, the major stresses threatening the stability of the relationship. When both partners are willing to address their issue at hand and to participate in developing a solution, conflicts can be resolved.


Chronic relationship conflicts can contribute to depression or anxiety, for one or both partners. Problems in relationships can additionally affect our physical health and self-esteem or lead to feelings of shame, anger and guilt. Relationship problems can also adversely affect children, who may repeatedly witness relationship conflicts between their parents.


Unfinished business in a relationship is no different to looking at a building that has not been completed; there is something missing. Unfinished business contains our misunderstandings, emotional baggage, unresolved relationship issues, irreconcilable differences and unresolved issues from our family of origin. These growing up issues we unconsciously import into our relationship. In Gestalt psychology, unfinished business is defined as the unexpressed feelings that are associated with distinct memories and fantasies. Unfinished business stems from our ‘running away’ from the pain of overwhelming wounds we were incapable of addressing.  


If we fail to address relationship issues, tensions will mount and poor habits will develop that will threaten the stability of the relationship. In turn, the healthy happiness within our relationship will be put in jeopardy. Differences in priorities can be ironed out via cooperation. With compromise, a person must give something up, while cooperation strengthens the relationship through mutual understanding, open communication and balanced interchange.


Transparency is another essential ingredient in maintaining a healthy relationship.  Concealing parts of ourselves in a relationship is unhealthy and transparency is the perfect way to relate to your partner. It enables you to reveal your fears and vulnerabilities, as well as your desires and point of view about the issues you are discussing. Revealing, in a safe way your internal experiences about personal matters or conflicts will enable you to get to the root of the conflict. 


Therapy

In therapy, clients can learn skills to enhance their intimacy, learn to navigate new terrain in their lives.

Family therapy can benefit families whose children are affected by the tension in their parents’ relationship. Therapy will help each partner to communicate his or her needs, thoughts, and emotions more clearly and to listen to the other partner more carefully.

 

Gene Barry Psychotherapist

© Gene Barry