Couples Counseling Articles

Blame

Couples, Communication and Confusion

It can happen while sitting around sipping an extraordinary Australian cabernet….

Or between episodes of Bridgerton…..

Or even while giving simple directions to someone you love.

Things can get awkward and frustrating because communication is fundamentally flawed.

Even the best communication involves abstraction and guesswork on the part of both people.

It’s filled with errors on the part of the communicator and misunderstandings by the recipient.

Messages shared and messages received are rarely the same.

And, over time…patterns develop.

Communicating with any human being depends on putting an abstraction, or thought, into words as precisely as possible.

At first glance the recipient thinks s/he understands….but take a closer look… and you’ll see that they have to guess.

Does s/he mean exactly this? OR Does s/he mean exactly THIS?

The brain gets confused and it happens so fast that we don’t notice.

Even if we do….we rarely take time to check things out …because we’re not doing scientific research here…right? Instead, we move on.

The brain makes a quick interpretation and we make our decision from there.

Seems simple enough, right? But hold on.

We also ‘make meaning’ out of these new interpretations.

If there’s a meaning or interpretation we don’t like….well….the brain can take us on a harrowing roller coaster ride full of emotional ups and downs.

That’s when we develop a false sense of certainty….and the brain makes up even MORE stories we believe to be true.

It all happens in seconds and when the stories fit our narratives and beliefs…

…we get frustrated… rarely show mercy….and find someone to blame.

Sometimes, we even blame ourselves.

Perhaps…these self-created interpretations get in the way for all of us.

After The Argument

Relationships don’t fall apart because of an argument. You and your partner both know mistakes happen. It’s what happens after the argument that can undermine your love for each other. How we repair the injury caused by our blunders is what matters most. That’s where the world of possibility lies.

If you’re available, responsive and engaged and you’re able to stay with your lover’s pain, a door opens to the possibility of building a partnership that’s even stronger than before. It creates a ripple effect that flows into other relationships and supports everyone around you – especially children.

More often than not, we’re focused on not making mistakes. We spend a life-time walking on eggshells and filled with so much shame and blame that we forget about the emotional labor of showing up and staying the course.

Continue Reading After The Argument

If You Can’t Name It Or Claim It… You Can’t Change It

It doesn’t help to tell your partner how much you hurt or what a disappointment they’ve been unless you’re willing to look at the whole picture.

They’ll take it as an attack and fight back with an argument or they’ll shut down. None of that works.

You can’t have a real conversation with your partner until you can agree on what happens between you. You’ve got to be willing to look at the data.

Ah-ha moments come with new insights. By seeing patterns… and recognizing how we effect each other when we dismiss, blame, criticize and ignore.

Without exploring what’s really happening, it’s impossible to accomplish much.

After all, when we don’t like what’s happening, it’s easiest to blame somebody else. “It’s not me, it’s you…” Then you’re off the hook.

Continue Reading If You Can’t Name It Or Claim It… You Can’t Change It

Can’t We Just Move On?

In relationships, it seems we find a temporary respite… once we figure out how to move away from an anxious moment.

We take the feeling and tuck it, stuff it, ignore it, shove it down, swallow it, absorb it, compartmentalize it, internalize it, pretend it doesn’t apply, hurt or matter.

We skillfully stiffen and blame……

Look the other way to keep from facing fears we don’t even acknowledge… or have words for.

And thanks to brilliant coping mechanisms, electronic devices, social media, 18 hour work days and a hyper-connected culture of friends… we can distract ourselves indefinitely. We call it… moving on.

But we don’t move on. Ever.

Continue Reading Can’t We Just Move On?