Is improving your relationship one of your 2021 goals? If it is, one way of doing this is to improve your relationship by seeking help.
I know there are a lot of people who are setting New Year’s goals right now, and if you’ve been following along, you know we have a Goal Setting Workbook for you!
If improving your relationship is on your goals list this year I want to talk to you! In my latest Coffee Talk, I talk to all couples about the best time to seek outside help.
So often we see that couples coming in for help a little bit too late and the story that I usually hear is…
“Things are not bad enough to get help”
“Things are not broken enough”
It’s a weird approach to take in your relationship.
I’m not really sure where this idea comes from or the philosophy that comes with it that we have to wait for things to really be broken before we access help. It probably has a lot to with shame around getting support for our relationships.
We’ve had this cultural idea that we should just know how to be in a relationship with somebody. That we fall in love and that’s pretty much it. It should be easy-peasy and we should be able to figure out all the things by ourselves without any outside help. Because seeking outside help is a sign of weakness.
I want to challenge this notion and I want you to challenge it too.
Think about what every relationship has in common. Conflict. Every relationship is going to have at least one monumental event or heartbreak that causes conflict. Because it’s just life and this is how we get through life. We have these life experiences that impact all of our relationships.
I want you to imagine that your relationship is like a house. When you meet someone for the first time and you start dating, you get to know them – you start building the foundation of the house. And as you continue dating you continue to add things to the home (furniture, decorating, etc.) you continue to add years into this home.
And then we have conflict in our relationship. That conflict is like having a small kitchen fire – and if we are on top of things (which is difficult) we can easily manage to put that fire out. But, when there is a conflict that happens over and over again (which is very normal) the kitchen fire starts to get bigger and bigger and bigger. It becomes difficult to manage.
Now, in reality, we would never wait for this fire to get out of control before calling the fire department. So, why would we allow our relationship conflict to get so out of control before seeking outside help? This is where shame steps in and says “our conflict is not big enough”.
When couples think this way, what happens is, resentment steps in. Resentment is a top relationship killer, alongside disrespect and contempt. You can love someone with the depth of your heart, but when resentment comes in it makes a home and becomes a permanent fixture of your relationship.
When couples come into counselling and they’ve had years and years and years of contempt, resentment, and conflict it’s like their house (relationship) is completely engulfed in flames. And their expectation is that they will come to counselling and somehow the counsellor will rebuild their home with them and put out the fire and there will be no damage.
But the truth is, there is a lot of damage.
So, if you have some goals surrounding your relationship – whether it is for communication, intimacy, parenting, managing conflict, whatever it may be – I want you to ask yourself this question…
“Is the conflict a small house fire that is manageable? Or is this fire getting bigger and bigger and some outside help would be beneficial?”
I want to leave you with some great reads for your relationship. There are so many great books out there that you and your partner can read together and improve your relationship, but here are just a couple of my recommendations.
It’s okay to ask for help before things are really out of control and keep in mind that resentment, disrespect, and contempt are the three major pillars that take away love and connection in a relationship. And that counselling can really help with that.
If you’re interested in booking a couples session, contact us here.