Are you tired of arguing? Do you feel stuck with relationship problems that seem unnecessary? If the answer is yes to either of these 2 questions, I have some suggestions for you.
Welcome to the “Ask Dr. Georgiana” relationship series. This week I will be exploring the seven essential things that you can do to eliminate unnecessary relationship problems from your life.
I am addressing this in response to an email I received from Maria, from Woodside, California, who stated the following:
“Dear Dr. Georgiana. I have dated three men in the last four years and I have had continuous arguments with all of them. I think that I am a fair and respectful person so I cannot understand why I never have peace in my relationships. I am tired of misunderstandings, assumptions, justifications, backstabbing, lying and manipulations and need some guidance. Is there any way of avoiding all of this and eliminating relationship problems from my life?”
Unfortunately, Maria seems to have dealt with a lot of negative dynamics in her relationships and it’s possible that this constant conflict has affected her self-esteem and level of trust towards men. However, she should be relieved to know that it is not a requirement of relationships to have these problems. Here are seven things that Maria, and everyone in similar situations, can do to break free from them.
Understand Your Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviors
Think about it, unless you understand yourself, you cannot explain your needs to anyone else and therefore cannot expect those needs to be met. You also cannot set limits for yourself if your partner crosses the line and disrespects you or hurts you. Additionally, if you do not understand yourself, you won’t know if a particular relationship is the right one for you. And you must know this so that you can stop spending your valuable time with the wrong person. So it is imperative that you train yourself in self-awareness.
What does it take to know yourself? Understanding your thoughts, feelings and behaviors includes being aware of the distortions and assumptions that you make. Making assumptions is very common, as the mind wants to make sense of what it does not know, so it creates thoughts that are often far removed from reality. For example, if your partner does not answer your call in the middle of the day, you may be tempted to automatically assume that they are cheating and jump to conclusions before you think about it logically and get all of the facts.
Once you identify possible distortions and assumptions, you need to sort through conflicting feelings and clarify what is really going on. You may discover that you are angry, but behind your anger, may also be fear of losing your partner to someone else, for example. Just noticing your feelings without judgment may help you accept them and not pretend that they are not there, something that is not that helpful in relationships.
Manage Your Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors
Once you understand your thoughts, feelings and behaviors, you have to manage them. This includes finding alternative explanations for events. In the previous example, an alternative, and more rational explanation is that your spouse may have been working and unable to use the phone. Managing thoughts, feelings and behaviors also includes not letting these feelings override facts and judgment, and letting go of behaviors that interfere with the resolution of conflict. One of those possible behaviors would be to lash out at your spouse when they come home or giving them the cold shoulder for a few days without asking for an explanation. This is not a behavior that is conducive to eliminating relationship problems.
Understand and Manage Your Partner’s Feelings and Behaviors
Although you may have strong self-management skills, you will encounter people who do not have those skills themselves, and it is in your best interest to know how to help them. This includes clarifying how certain situations make them feel and what they need from you, reassuring them, helping them refocus on resolving conflict, and deescalating confrontations when they arise.
Understand What is Negotiable for You and for Your Partner
In other words, you must be clear about what will make you and your partner truly unhappy and what you are both willing to compromise on. Without this, you are likely to engage in endless arguments without a clear map of what to fight for and what to let go of.
Understand What Each Person is Willing to Do About Each Negotiable
Once you are clear about what you and your partner are willing to negotiate, you must clarify how far each of you is willing to go regarding things that you will be negotiating. Knowing what your partner is willing to do or not will allow you to predict what you can ask from them and be clear about what you will never get from them. Also, clarifying what you are willing to do about each negotiable will allow you to set limits around expectations from your partner and help them determine what to fight for and what not to.
Negotiate What Can Be Negotiated
Negotiating is an art that can be learned. Important negotiation skills are: identifying what can be negotiated, communicating clearly, being willing to listen to your partner and clarify goals, keeping a fair and honest stance, and focusing on reaching an agreement.
Have the Courage to Step Out of a Relationship When What is Essential Cannot Be Negotiated
This is the final suggestion on eliminating relationship problem from your life. If you know that some traits and behaviors in your partner are going to be a source of constant relationship problems, you must have the courage to leave that relationship.
You must also consider ending the relationship when you realize that your partner has non-negotiable expectations that you cannot or do not want to meet. This is very important as most people are unhappy in relationships and have constant conflict because they keep trying to negotiate issues that are non-negotiable for the other person, and that is simply futile. In order to help you decide whether a particular relationship will make you happy in the long-run, I have created a FREE video series titled: “Should You Stay Or Should You Go? How To Know For Sure Whether To Keep Or Leave Your Partner”. You can sign-up for it on my website at www. drgeorgiana.com.
I am honored to be part of your journey to find and enjoy the right partner and look forward to sharing future articles with you, connecting in one of my online relationship programs, or having a personalized Relationship Coaching session.
If you have been successful at eliminating relationship problems from your life, please share your wisdom in the comments’ section below or on my Facebook page. You can see the answer to many of my subscriber’s questions and be notified when I post new articles by signing up to receive my online news bulletin at: www.drgeorgiana.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Author Georgiana Spradling, Ph.D., MFT, CDVC, is a multicultural and multilingual (English, Spanish, & French) Emotional Intelligence Relationship Coach with over 20 years of experience helping people choose the right partners and avoid the wrong ones, manage emotions and behaviors in self and others, leave unhealthy partnerships, and move past old relationships. She is a Certified Domestic Violence Counselor and has a Certificate as an Anger Management Facilitator. Her e-book: “Don’t Get Stuck with the Wrong Partner: Learn to Detect Unhealthy Traits and Behaviors in Others” is available on the Amazon Kindle. You can subscribe to her videos on the undesirable sides of dating, committed relationships, separation and divorce on her YouTube Page.
Dr. Georgiana coaches on the telephone, online or in her office in San Francisco (USA) and offers a FREE 25-minute Consultation. She can be reached through her website: www.drgeorgiana.com, by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: 1-650-731-5105.