03 Feb Why Your Relationship Isn’t Working
I’ll be honest, the only way I can tell you the specific reasons why your relationship isn’t working is to get to know you and your partner. Obviously, since I’m not with you, I can’t do that. However, there are some fundamental things you want to consider when you are trying to come up with reasons why your relationship isn’t working.
First, how well do you know yourself? And I mean, how well do you know what your emotional needs are? Why do you do the things you do? How well can you explain the reasons you feel a particular way about something that make sense to someone besides yourself? If your answer is, “that’s just the way I am,” I can tell you right away, that’s why your relationship isn’t working.
Of course, you may have pretty clear answers to those questions, thinking that you know yourself very well. And for the most part, you might be right. Unfortunately, if your most intimate relationship is not working, there is more to know about yourself that you do not yet know, and it is getting in the way of a satisfying relationship. Rest assured, it’s not just you. Your partner has the same kind of mysterious information about themselves that they are not aware of, which complicates matters.
Here’s the thing. When you are not extremely conscious of and honest about your emotions, you will always expect your partner to fulfill needs that you do not even know you have. Your expectations will probably be somewhat unreasonable. You will become disenchanted with your partner when they fail to meet your invisible expectations. You will deny these expectations if someone suggests that you have them, since the emotions that fuel them are invisible to you and very likely unacceptable your conscious adult identity. So there you are, unsatisfied, and you wonder why your relationship isn’t working.
The exact same thing is probably happening for your partner. Their invisible expectations, fueled by invisible emotions, cause them to have unreasonable expectations of you. They become unsatisfied for the same (but different) reasons you do. The relationship deteriorates because expectations you have of each other are not being met. And I do not mean expectations you THINK you have, I mean expectations you do not know that you have.
In a couple, the balance of expectation and fulfillment must be fluid and transparent. When it is not, the relationship will be unsatisfying for one or both partners. The work of discovering each person’s hidden expectations and the emotions associated with those expectations is the work of couples therapy. Sometimes the work leads to an understanding that brings the relationship to an end. Other times, understanding deepens the relationship into a long lasting, deeply satisfying partnership. Either way, through therapy, both individuals become keenly aware of what they bring to any relationship, and how to repair things when they go wrong.