Do you ever find yourself stuck in a situation where your significant other wants one thing and you want something different?
This can happen in any relationship, even with friends.
What do you do when you’re on a different page? Now when I say different page, I’m not just talking “What’s for dinner?” or “What are we going to do today?”, I’m talking about the bigger things too.
You fight with your partner about something and she wants to talk about it in the heat of the moment, whereas you want to get out of there and cool off by yourself.
You want to see your partner a few times a week but they have a busier schedule than you.
Or even, you want four children and your partner wants two.
In 2014, an overview of divorce studies by Sheela Kennedy and Steven Ruggles revealed the percentage of married couples who had separated or divorced skyrocketed to approximately 45% by the year 2010. These are caused mainly by “idealized romantic beliefs” and “dysfunctional relationship beliefs”. To understand what these mean, I created a list¹:
Idealized Romantic Beliefs
- Love finds a way: “If it’s meant to be, it will happen”
- Love at first sight: “I’ll fall in love immediately”
- One and only: “I’ll fall in love once, there’s no one else for me”
- Idealization: “The relationship I obtain will be perfect”
Dysfunctional Relationship Beliefs
- Disagreement is destructive: “We will never fight”
- Mind reading: “My partner should know what I want”
- Partners cannot change: “How I met them is how they will be forever”
- Men and women are fundamentally different
- Destiny decides: “We are meant to be or not”
Let’s start by pushing these beliefs to the side and getting a good grasp on the fact that relationships involve work. This work can be made easier by first understanding yourself and your needs and then by following what I call the “4 C” Rule. This rule will help you practice healthier relationship skills, reduce conflict, and help your relationship last.
So what are the “4 C”s?
- Openly express yourself
- Say what you need to your partner
- Avoid using a negative tone and/or vocabulary
- Avoid assumptions
- Listen intently to what the other person is saying
- Be open and understanding
- Be mindful about the your partner’s needs, wants, and feelings
- Think about how their needs affect you and if you can meet them halfway or not
- Think about how your actions may affect the other person
- Try to view things from the other person’s perspective
- This is not the same as compromise
- Work together
- Talk in a transparent manner
- Come to a conclusion that both of you are happy with
- Be true to yourself
- Stay firm in your beliefs and values
- Be honest about what you can and cannot accept (sometimes your values do not align)
Every friendship or relationship will have differences and each individual is different as well. What’s important in a healthy relationship is determining how you will approach these differences and how valuable it is to you. Always start by learning more about your own characteristics and emotions.
If you need assistance with implementing the “4 C”s, our marriage and family therapists will be happy to help you develop strategies.
Blog post by Daya Montakhebi, Volunteer
¹ Information retrieved from Regan, P., Close Relationships, pp. 134-135. 2011.