Have you heard those words before? Have you said those words before?
I hear couples say this on an almost daily basis in my practice and I have to say, when I hear it – I even get discouraged about the possibility of the relationship working out. :(
In my experience, it usually makes the person being accused of never being happy feel like they have these out of this world expectations and standards (and hm, sometimes they do, but that’s another blog post!) and for the person blasting it out – it only adds to their hopelessness and resignation of making the relationship work.
Here are my tips for both partners working through this argument:
1.) For the discouraged – Trash that line – I’ll never or always anything is an exaggeration in any conflict. You know this! I’ll never make you happy is simply putting it out there that you never will and have no intention of making your partner happy so scratch that and replace with – “I’d like to make you happier…” If you replace that with your usual “I’ll never make you happy” you’ll lighten the discussion into a less defensive area to talk about the core of what’s wrong out. Just think about how much more lovely that sounds! Makes me happy just reading that. I know I’d be more inclined to chill out if someone said that and so are my clients!
2.) For the unhappy – catch your partner making you happy - now, it’s to be expected that in every relationship, there will be some times of unhappiness. Expectations aren’t lining up with what you thought you signed up for, etc. However, the relationship can’t be ALL bad. If it is, go ahead and close this window and terminate the relationship. If you’re still reading though…. :D Check out your partner when they do something you DO like, make sure to give lots of praise and don’t be afraid to do it in public. This will get your partner feeling good about themselves and renew some hope for the relationship. It’s so easy for us to focus on the negative and forget all the small wonderful things that happen on a daily basis. Spend some time each day going over one thing you really appreciate about the person. Like I always say – be in expert in what they DO right! :D
3.) For both – understand this is normal – All couples go through this. Happy ones, unhappy ones. It’s part of the ebbs and flow of a relationship. John Gottman, one of my favorite researchers (and the biggest on marriage) says that “Master” couples, couples who have been married over 15 years have ALL at one point or another contemplated their relationship and asked to themselves “did I make a mistake? Is this really the person for me?” All of your happy friends on Facebook with children that are married that update every week on how much they love their spouse have thought this too…at one point or another! Trust me! The only difference is that they know it’s normal and they can always latch back onto the good in their relationship. (Plus, kudos to them for giving out love publicly to their partner!)
Hang in there! I hope this has helped and please write comments on your own stories and thoughts! You can catch me on twitter too @jennatimetweets!
Visit me at www.jennatime.com! <3