Is this you? You are in a relationship for over a year, and now you feel anger, disappointment, resentment, and stress? It all seemed to be going great. Your partner is fun and attractive. Why aren’t things going as they should?
There can be several reasons, here are the top 5:
- Communication (or really, lack of communication). Sure you can decide where to go to dinner, but are you actually talking about what matters? Do you both sincerely listen to each other, or is the listening really a waiting to make your point? Are you too afraid to speak up for what you want? If so, that will cause a cycle of resentment.
- Unspoken Expectations. This is much more common than you would expect. For example you are going away for a weekend, perhaps it is an anniversary. You are expecting to get engaged, he is expecting to play golf and have a good time. You have built up the expectations; he (or she) has no idea. The event comes and passes and you are furious, and he has no understanding of why.
- Different Relationship Goals. Perhaps you both have different ideas of what a relationship should mean. You might think it means a deepening of connection and an ongoing exploration of each other’s souls. Your partner might be thinking being with someone you like and having fun together is a good goal.
- Problematic Role Models. If you and/or your partner come from dysfunctional families where you saw your parents fight, blame each other, divorce, have affairs, drink or use drugs and create chaos – you might be terrified of becoming involved in a committed relationship. Without help and working on this, you are likely to remain in a cycle of superficial relationships as a form of protection.
- Different ideas of when one is ‘grown up’. You might feel it is time to move to the next stage and your partner may feel there is ‘no rush’. Both are equally committed to each other, but one of you is on a different time schedule. You seem to be ‘rushing’ things and ‘pressuring’. Your partner may seem immature, unable to commit or just not that serious. This last one is even more pronounced if one of you comes from an area in which people get married younger and the other is not. Engrained expectations are not easy to identify, but can have a profound effect.
What to Do?
All of these issues are commonly dealt with in couple’s therapy. You can see that learning about yourself and your partner and learning to communicate effectively will address each of these five issues. Many people wait because getting started in couples therapy can be scary. However, not dealing with it, only makes things worse. A skilled couple’s therapist can really help. Also take a look at our post on ways to improve your relationship.