Real Intimacy is hard for everyone
We tend to assume that in couples with a high frequency of arguments that there is a lack of communication. It’s actually wrong to think that way, as it is impossible for 2 people in any kind of a relationship of not communicating. We communicate verbally, but most of our communication is actually done non verbally. Messages are rarely miscommunicated between a couple but rather it’s the message from the partner that is hard to accept. Partners who constantly seek to improve the communication in the couple are actually trying to get the message they would like to hear because they have a hard time believing what the other person is truly communicating. Typically, we’ll get one partner or both nagging the other one, so that they eventually get what they want to hear. These couples or individuals lack the capacity to really be intimate with one another. People who are capable of tolerating the intimacy needed in a long term relationship can appreciate the similarities they have with their lover, but also the differences. It is inevitable that we will find the latter in all couples who have been together for a long time. Most often we will find persisting conflicts about money, sex, the education of the kids, personal values and chores around the house.
Differences in your couple Make you Grow
Couples tend to avoid taboo subjects because they don’t want to face the irreconcilable conflicts. This dynamic inevitably creates superficial disagreements between couples, which don’t allow the partners to grow as people and lovers. It is entirely normal for couples to face conflicts of interest one day or the other. The important is not what the differences are or how many, but how we decide to deal with them. Conflicts between couples can serve the partners as a way to learn and better understand each other and themselves. This is the hard part of being in a couple, but down the line it brings couples to strengthen their bond and love between them.
People are willing to go to great lengths to avoid the real problems in their couple. They’ll put the blame on their partner, justify their actions by all kinds of rationalization pretend to act with good intentions or play dumbfounded, when they actually aren’t. Each of theses strategies and others are the perfect way to push the real conflict aside. On the other hand, sooner or later, the same problems arise and the couple feel as though their differences will never be reconciled. Surprisingly, this dynamic becomes in certain ways comfortable. For most, it’s actually easier to argue perpetually than to accept the reality they face. Our partners are different from us in the way they think, their values, opinions, attitudes, behaviours and beliefs. As simple as this concept might seem, in reality it’s quite difficult to live with these differences and truly accept them. Especially, when they have a direct effect on us, such as our sexual styles and preferences.
Conflicts in couples are inevitable, but must be dealt with adequately. It’s important to know ourselves well and have good self-esteem, while being firm with our positions yet still be flexible when it comes to a tense subject. People who have a hard time with intimacy are either very rigid in their interactions because, their partners’ differences are seen as threats to their identity (beliefs, opinions, values, etc.) or people are easily influenced by their negating their own identity and therefore avoid creating divergences with their lovers’.
Beware of Compromise
It often happens that couple’s conflicts aren’t settled within the first discussion. In fact, that allows each partner to reflect on the other’s opinion to discuss it another time. Compromise always lets one or both partner’s with a sour taste in their mouth, because you have to comply with the other one’s demands. It is much better to find a consensus that both partners desire. Therefore, it’s important to be flexible in our opinions, values and beliefs without feeling threatened in our solid identity. If you can’t find a consensus then you have to find a way that you can tolerate it.
Finally, when a couple faces these hardships, it’s important that they deal with the intimacy that is developing between each other. To do so, we must accept that our partner is different from us, which is easier said than done. We must tolerate the anxiety provoked by the conflicts by staying firm to our convictions, yet taking the time to consider the other’s opinion while confronting ourselves to arrive at a consensus rather than a compromise. It is not the differences and similarities that determine a couple’s success, but rather how we deal with them and the perception we have of our lover in the process.
Francois Renaud M.A.