Sometimes couples find it difficult to get along. They just can’t be nice to each other, although they wish they could be. They want to be with each other, but they don’t know how to make it work. When this happens, partners are usually harboring anger over past hurts — and the anger over hurts from the past gets in the way of being respectful to each other in the present. And, their daily hurtful interactions serve as regular reminders of the past hurts. So, unless an effort is made to break hurtful patterns of communicating, the relationship never gets a chance to heal. Often a couple will continue in this way because, as uncomfortable as the communication pattern may be, it’s familiar. Changing the way they respond can feel “funny,” because it’s not what they normally do. Part of them may feel like staying the way they are, but another part may realize that they need to make changes if they want to stop the conflict. The decision to change is the first step toward a more harmonious relationship.
A couple can start by making an effort to be nicer to each other. This involves
- Listening to each other and allowing the other to finish speaking before responding, and doing this with an attitude of openness and respect.
- Letting go of minor issues rather than holding onto them and making big deals out of them.
- Expressing appreciation for each other’s small acts of kindness.
- Being tolerant of differences in each other’s temperaments.
The more positive experiences a couple has in communicating and showing compassion for each other, the stronger their relationship will become.