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December 14, 2013
by Roni(t) Meshi M Lami, Ph.D., MSc

How Do Crisis' Form in a Couple's Relationship?

December 14, 2013 04:55 by Roni(t) Meshi M Lami, Ph.D., MSc  [About the Author]

At the early stages of a relationship, getting into a fight resembles a small crack in a water dam.  Initially, the crack can be easily fixed, but with the passing of time, the water penetrates the crack and widens it.  As time passes by, couples who have neglected to deal with the core of their dispute or disagreements, find it more and more difficult to do so.

In order to avoid the ‘crack’ from becoming wider, it is significant for a couple to aim at resolving disputes or disagreements right at the beginning of their relationship.  The best scenario is that the dam would not have fallen apart, but, if it had already happened, it is best to deal with it as soon as possible.  A long quarrel or recurring ones, turn into an ongoing crisis that can lead to a divorce.

Behind every argument there is a hidden power struggles.  Many couples get caught up in power struggles for the purpose of gaining control in some areas of their lives. Some try to control the expenditures or economic resources of the family.  Others try to control the decision making process, social and family ties, or how to raise the children.  In extreme cases there are those who seek control of their partner’s behavior, as well as their partner’s thoughts and inner world. 

The need to control (by one partner or both) indicates that the relationship is not perceived as a partnership.  Namely, each person contributes their share and skills to the relationship, and each one has the legitimacy to be themselves.  In displaying power struggle, the opposite is true. It suggests that one (or both), considers themselves the more powerful, understanding, smart, talented and successful partner of the two.  Aiming to determine how things will be carried out, without consulting the partner and without the partner's consent.

A pattern of 'power’ has been found in people who have high need for control; due to the fact that experiencing loss of control triggers a feeling of helplessness, which evokes anxiety. This is a learnt pattern, where a person experiences throughout their life that they must take care of things alone because they have no one to rely upon.  This perception results from unresolved past experiences, originated from experiencing lack of basic trust. 

The need for control, over a situation or over a spouse

A spouse who has  existing inner feelings of helplessness, worthlessness, weakness, lack of confidence or other difficult emotions, will exercise emotional or physical power over their spouse (usually subconsciously), in order to force things to go their way and according to their will.  It is done to regain a sense of security and strength.  When things progress contrary to the expectations and needs of the ‘controlling spouse’, he/she may exploit different types of 'power’ to regain control and get their way; even if their actions were done against their partner’s wishes.  It is helpful to understand that this process occurs mainly at the subconscious level.

No wonder that many couples claim "we no longer talk”.  Many couples prefer to remain silent, or to argue, than to talk about what really bothers them.  This causes an unhealthy buildup of non inconsiderable issues, but if not communicated, with time they become larger and more significant.  A distance is starting to form, which no one really understands how it has started, and how it can be bridged.  Now the couple is in a "relationship crisis", not knowing how to come out of it.

Constant constructive communication

Communication is an important element in any relationship, more so in a committed one. It is important to initiate conversations that allow each person to successfully express both their negative and positive feelings and thoughts in a safe and loving environment.  Doing so can prevent arguments or fights because we have allowed the expression of what is there for us in a healthy and respectful manner. 

It is essential to take preemptive measures and communicate once every few days.  To talk about what is happening between the two of you, without worrying that your conversations will lead to unpleasant feelings.  It is important to invest in and nurture ‘constructive communication’ early in the relation, since erosion and habit are great enemies of a couple’s relationship.  Commonly people believe that talking about feelings and thoughts is a feminine need.  This is a wrong assumption.   Every person in a relationship needs a luminous discussion regarding disputes as well as emotional support regarding daily challenges.

A good and loving relationship requires the investment of time and energy.  It also requires accommodating the other, understanding and accepting the differences between the two of you, and letting go of the desire for power or control, as well as the knowing that a successful long term relationship involves ongoing giving and bestowing. It is important to understand that in a relationship no one is right or wrong, neither winner nor loser…

We expect to feel confidence and at ease in coupling.  We must believe that we can rely on our partner to not betray our intimate secrets and that we can tread freely in our relationship’s space and be emotionally exposed, without the fear and worry of been hurt, abused or betrayed.

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