It is really common for one partner to be frustrated with something the other partner is doing. For example, maybe they check out on you at night instead of helping you with the kids. Or maybe you feel like they are breathing down your neck and frequently bite your head off with critical comments. So, if you find yourself in the situation where they are repeatedly doing something that’s just not working for you, it is very fair to expect them to be responsive to your needs. Responsiveness is a healthy relationship quality. It essentially means that if my spouse tells me that something I’m doing isn’t working for them it is my job to take ownership of that, respond to their need and learn how to do it a better way. But what will often happen is that frustrated partner will end up making that request over and over again without significant or sustainable change taking place.
Does this stuck pattern sound familiar to your relationship? If so, then that is a good indicator that it is probably time to enlist support of a couple’s therapist. What’s often going on in those situations is that your spouse may not fully recognize or understand the unintended negative impact that their behavior is having on you. So for example, if they’re checking out on you at night and not helping out with the kids, you are likely feeling stressed and overwhelmed by that. Over time that stress and overwhelm is going to turn into resentment. If they are someone who frequently bites your head off, chances are you start to duck and weave and try to stay under their radar. This tactic is actually going to cause you to pull away from them and create more distance … because you’re tired of getting your head bitten off. So in this case your partner may need to gain a better appreciation of how that behavior is actually hurting the bond between the two of you.
Now the second stuck quality may be that that’s how your partner handles stress and anxiety. It may be that that’s how your partner has handled stress for a long time. For example, if at the end of a stressful work day if your partner is feeling completely fried maybe checking out on the family, is their only tool in their toolbox at this moment. Your partner may actually need somebody to teach them better ways of handling stress and better ways of handling conflict with you. Unfortunately that is not something that you can normally DIY at home without the support of an experienced therapist.
We are here for you as individual, couple, and family therapists! We offer individual counseling, couples counseling, and family counseling. If you would like more information about Flourish’s counseling services, reach out to us at 303-455-3767 x. 5 or fill out our contact form today.