Dealing with your Partner During those Difficult Situations


All who are in relationships with a spouse or partner have experienced feelings of stress when facing an unresolved conflict. What seems to be especially difficult is when the same type of conflict resurfaces again and again, with no apparent resolution. During these times, it is easier to view one’s partner as the source or cause of the conflict. Each often views the other as not taking responsibility for starting the conflict. When resolution does not occur, each can easily view the other as lacking insight, being enmeshed in denial, or just plain stubborn.

Regardless of the theory, when the conflict resurfaces, the results are often an explosion, a period of cold silence, a slow thawing and then back to the “same old, same old”.  This “dance” between the two can continue for years with no resolution in sight.

This age old dilemma is far too typical of couples who come in and see me.  Here are some of the contributing factors I have come across and some things you can do about them.

  1. When disagreeing, couples have a tendency of bringing up the past, thus getting off track.  It is important to deal only with the issue at hand.  Other unresolved issues can be dealt with separately, perhaps at a later time.                                                                                                                                             
  2. I have found that one’s I.Q. is extremely high when we think we know how our partner is flawed but extremely low when it comes to knowing ourselves.  It may be difficult but in the mist of a disagreement, try to be honestly aware of your part in the disagreement.                                                  
  3. Don’t think you’re off scot free of responsibility when you practice the philosophy, peace at any price in order to avoid conflict.  When you try to avoid dealing with what is bothering you, it will only come out in some other way. Be honest from the get go.  Avoidance only makes it worst on the back end.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
  4. If your partner refuses to change, then change yourself.  Trying to change a resistant partner is a complete waste of time and energy. It would be better spent working on yourself, no matter how perfect you think you are in the relationship.                                                                                                              
  5. Be aware that when you become defensive in the mist of a conflict, chances are a button has been pressed and you’re resistant to look at it. Don’t get off track but focus. Certainly focus on dealing with the issue at hand.  However, pause and examine what you may be resistant to work on.                                                                              
  6. Be aware that you may unconsciously be resisting resolution because you are deriving secondary gains by your partner staying the same. The put downs and the nit picking may be a mask to hid deeper problems in the relationship and with your self that you are unwilling to face and deal with.                                                                                                                
  7. Many times the petty issues that come up time and again are really a mask to hide from facing and dealing with the deeper underlying issues. Challenge yourself to look at what’s really bothering you and have the courage to face and deal with it in an honest and open manner.                                                                                                                                                                     
  8. Remember, no partnership is a utopia.  It is full of ups and downs. However, in order for it to sustain itself, the positives must outweigh the negatives. Often we take the positives for granted and magnify the negatives. To counteract this tendency, be more aware of when your partner does something that you appreciate . Expressing a sincere appreciation to your partner will reinforce it to be repeated.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         These suggestions are not all encompassing but may be a good beginning. As always, any comments, suggestions or feedback can be directed to me at