Expressing yourself honestly can be difficult. Some have a hard time identifying what their needs and preferences actually are. Others hesitate to express their desires for fear of being denied what they long for. Opening yourself up, only to have your partner argue with you, may feel like more than you can bear — so there is a temptation for people to bottle up their desires, often expressing their displeasure and resentment indirectly and therefore in a ineffective and non-constructive way. 6 Tips To Make Marriage Counseling Work
2. Showing up means letting your partner express themselves authentically, too. ln other words, you need to become a good listener. As a good listener, you stay curious about your partner's thoughts and feelings without immediately thinking about what that means for yourself and your own agenda. A good listener can put him or herself into the other person's shoes. This can be quite difficult, especially when you disagree with your partner's point of view, so the temptation to argue or defend yourself is great. Are You a Good Listener?
The goal is to create an atmosphere at home where both of you can be real and which supports your development both as individuals and as a couple. This is usually not a skill set that comes naturally, but one that needs to be learned and practiced daily.
Training Your Muscles
You may long to develop the communication skills described above, but don't know where to start. Couples' genuine attempts to discuss the changes they long for can often end in bitter arguments and even more estrangement. That's why distressed couples need support. This can come from friends, relatives, and faith communities. Books and articles like this one can be helpful as well. But in the same way that serious athletes need professional trainers, the most systematic support a couple can get is through formal marriage counseling (also known as couples therapy).
Couples therapy creates a safe space to explore your relationship, providing you with the tools you'll need — both to communicate your own needs, and to listen to the needs of your partner. As a skilled witness, your therapist can help to uncover and break out of the underlying dynamics and destructive patterns in your interactions with each other. 10 Ways To Make Your Marriage Last 10 Years
This will take time. You will literally need to re-wire your brain from responding in old ways. But the good news is that this re-wiring for relational resilience can be done, provided you both are willing to put in the time and effort to exercise that muscle.