'I guess I must be crazy'. Whispers Tanya as she holds her head between her hands.
Tanya moves her eyes towards Sheldon her husband of 12 years and father of their two children as she waits for him to respond.
Sheldon raises his eye brows in disgust and puts his hands in the air saying angrily "She is never happy. I don't understand what Tanya needs, but clearly I don't get it. I support our family with everything they could ever need and it's never good enough".
"So don't bother then" Tanya announces angrily.
"OK we have two options here Sheldon" I interject "Do you want to hear what I have say"?
Sheldon nods reluctantly "Sure".
"The way I see this relationship is one that has accumulated far too much damage over the years. Do you want help with this"?
"I don't want this" Sheldon quickly replies.
"Good… let's look at what got both of you here and map out a better way for you two to interact."
Sheldon has a good case, he can throw his arms up and say look pal I would love have an intimate relationship with her, but she is just too controlling, over-reacting and angry, what am I suppose do.
Now that might be true and Sheldon can stay fixed on his version that he has been a good father, a provider and that he does not do anything wrong, but there is only one problem.
Tanya looks to be only two moves away from leaving this relationship.
This is a case of one partner spending years waiting for one partner to move into a loving relationship and the other partner not knowing how to give more.
Now after years of slowly resigning, slowly accepting more disappointment, Tanya faces a difficult reality and has chosen to say 'I will not live like this anymore'.
My job if this couple has any chance of staying together is to help each of them move into a relationship recovery with the help of best couples counselling in Calgary and out of their conflict stance with one another.
Both equally come with their bad habits and behaviors that contribute to this unhealthy relationship, but after we can establish that there is absolutely no room for staying in that state, we can move towards overcoming those past patterns.
I call this making a significant agreement for change and it is necessary for success.
The truth is that we are all immature and messy when conflict or difficult conversations arise.
When we get triggered in conflict we activate our 'bad deal' response to our partners.
The learning here is to understand that we each come to conflict with a blurred lens and this is influenced by our version of this bad deal. This bad deal can be best described as a projection of our partner when we are being flooded with negative emotions and feelings.
The bad deal story usually goes something like this. "I cannot believe that I have to spend the rest of my life with so and so when they behave like…."
Have you ever noticed that it feels like you are fighting for your life when you're in conflict with your partner?
Instead of seeking to understand each other, most couples stay fixed on defending themselves. This inability to connect during conflict is where damage is done to relationships. Leading to expectations of being let down.
Once this dynamic is brought into awareness with a defined action plan on how to replace those defensive responses, couples can address their concerns with more flexibility and supportive dialogue.
When you see your partner at their worst, how do you see them?
Make a list. Get your partner to make a list.
Often we choose partners that know just how to push those invisible buttons.
Know that when you are projecting your bad deal onto your partner that it is an exaggerated version and it is usually true.
Once we have awareness of the behaviors it is helpful to let your partner know what the behaviors and conversations are that contribute to your bad deal.