“Honey, Have you seen my keys?”….”Did you hear me?”
“Did you see my keys?” ……”well?”
“I was just thinking.”
“What are you thinking about? Did you or didn’t you?”…
“I don’t know”
“What do you mean you don’t know? Nevermind, forget it I will find them!”
If the above dialog sounds familiar to you , you are not alone. When I see clients in therapy they rarely say, “we want to feel loved and connected”. More often I hear clients say they have a communication problem. They want:
- A partner who is responsive.
- A partner who is attentive and approachable
- A partner who is a teammate
- A partner who is straight forward
- A partner who reaches out and pursues
- A partner who is interested
(Note: sounds a little like “I want to communicate better so I can change my partner.”
I discovered that many clients come to therapy secretly believing that the barrier to relational satisfaction is their partner. Internet searches and family and friends have:
- Informed them that their partner has personality disorder.
- Confirmed that they are incompatible
- Agreed that the partner was deceitful
- Validated that they had grown apart
I can understand how frustrating and painful it can be to be with a partner that seems to be unconcerned and disconnected in the relationship. I can also understand wanting to give up and stop trying when a partner seems to be so controlling and hard to please. Clients have tried changing their partner, changing themself, or starting over with a new partner, with no lasting change. They may have seen therapists that primarily focus on individual therapy.
Couples’ therapist (therapists that specialize in working with couples) recognize that lasting change happens best when partners learn how to make changes in their relationships. I enjoy being able to help take the pressure of clients to change each other. Partners can begin to work together when they focus to transforming the relationship. I particularly enjoy it when couples discover that relational changes can allow them each to be and appreciate their best selves.
Remember, often the smallest change can have a big impact.
I appreciate the reading work of Ellen Bader and Peter Pearson founders of The Couples Institute. They have written some helpful articles to get you started toward identifying and understanding more about relationships that struggle with broken promises, defensiveness, excuses, unexpressed hostility, and unresponsiveness. These struggles can often be associated with Passive Aggressive Behavior
Click the links below to access their reports:
Help my partner is passive aggressive! Living with a passive aggressive partner can be trying for even the most loving, devoted spouse. This report outlines the problem, the cause and what you can do to make things better.
Overcoming Passive and Passive Aggressive behavior In this report therapists peel back the curtain and show a therapy session involving a couple where partners feel unsupported and want the other to change.