The short answer is that when differences come up it can feel threatening, which then activates coping mechanisms that clash with your partner’s coping mechanisms. When this happens it’s really difficult to listen with the desire to understand the other person, so neither partner feels heard or understood, even though you keep trying to talk about it to resolve it. The patterns keep each of you stuck in the same loop of trying to cope in ways that just don’t help.
Counseling can help you work on issues and give you the skills and clarity to see your way through. Learning to communicate about your differences and negotiate through differing needs and desires can go a long way to create a healthy, respectful, and loving relationship.
The U Turn
In order to have a good relationship it’s important to be able to self-reflect and build the capacity to take ownership of your part in uncomfortable situations. To be able to get clear about what matters to you, what your needs and desires are, and find ways of saying it so your partner can hear it better. Are you making a request, just speaking your truth, attempting to negotiate, or trying to set a boundary? The more clarity you have, the easier it will be for your partner to understand and respond more authentically. Nobody is easy to live with, and everyone has a personality that is unique to them. Personalities come with needs and desires, ways of coping, and ways of loving already wired in, so getting to know yourself helps you own your truth and your issues, and enables you to be less defensive, because if you’ve already owned your issues yourself, then you can own it when your partner inevitably brings it up. It also feels empowering and healthy when you can show up authentically and express your thoughts, needs, and desires to your partner and have them hear you and actually get you without getting defensive. But, as easy as this sounds, it’s not easy to do, and counseling can help you gain the skills to bring up tense topics in an effective way, and to help your partner hear you effectively as well.