Throughout the 13 years my husband and I have been married we’ve had our trials and tribulations. At one point things were so bad that we actually considered counseling. Personally I’ve never been a fan of Psychologists but I have to admit that the counseling helped. By utilizing workshops by groups like Marriage Encounter, CREDO and the Wounded Warrior Project we like to fine tune our relationship every couple of years or so as you would a car. Over the years we’ve discovered there are a few similarities that always seem to pop up with couples having problems.
The biggest issue is communication. Yeah I know, my male readers are rolling their eyes and shaking their heads but the fact of the matter is, whether you’re in a hetero or homosexual relationship you are two people who are steadily involved in each other’s lives and neither of you are mind readers. Male or female if there’s a problem you need to speak up about it and the other party needs to listen and I mean actively listen. Many people don’t actually listen to what the other person is saying because they’re too busy formulating their rebuttal to throw in as soon as the other person stops speaking rather than actually stopping to consider what that person is saying. In doing so you’re disregarding your partner’s grievance which is probably why you find yourselves talking in circles. Stop, listen and consider what your partner is telling you. Rather than feeling insulted immediately, think. Do you see any grain of truth in your partner’s complaint?
Also if you have an issue, don’t keep it bottled up so that it can fester and grow until you end up blowing up about it and it becomes a whole big thing in your relationship. People keep issues bottled up inside for a majority of reasons, usually because they don’t want to rock the boat or upset their partner. First why are you so concerned about upsetting your partner? Remember your feelings count too. If your partner doesn’t want to talk about anything they don’t actually respect you or the relationship enough to want to make you happy and work on the problem whether it’s a simple miscommunication or misunderstanding or a legitimate problem. If you’re afraid of your partner becoming violent that’s a whole new issue you need to think about and ask yourself why are you with this person? Violence is NEVER ok and it’s never the answer!
Lack of respect and consideration is also an issue that seems to be evident in both sexes. I’ve seen women who get upset that their partners take no interest in their favorite activities yet they won’t try to take an interest in their partner’s favorite activities either. While couples don’t have to be joined at the hip, occasionally taking part in each other’s hobby or interests isn’t going to kill you.
When a couple decides to go to one of these workshops or retreats, it should be because both parties want to go. Everyone should be willing to examine their relationship. There should not be any “sacrificing” or anyone being dragged to anything against their will because I guarantee that couple will not get anything out of it. You’re wasting your time, the time of the people running the event and taking up space that a couple who actually wants to be there. I’ve seen things get downright nasty among couples like this and one guy was such a festering asshole that he was making fun of the other guys taking part in the event. The man was bored, didn’t hide the fact he did not want to be there, didn’t even try to make an effort and created a hostile environment for everyone involved. For anyone reading this, male or female, if you’re this much of a douche that you consider the fact your other half is unhappy with the state of your relationship is a joke and not worth your time to explore, do the world a favor and stay your happy ass home! In fact, if this is the way your other half behaves, consider why you’re putting up with it and realize you deserve so much better.
Being in a successful relationship takes work from both parties. If you and your partner have never ever argued about anything ever in the course of your whole relationship, I hate to say it but there’s definitely a problem. Never arguing about anything doesn’t mean you have a picture perfect healthy relationship, it means someone is holding something back. Now I’m not saying that arguing all the time is essential because it’s not but unless the other person is your clone or vice versa, you are both completely different individuals with your own mindset, thought process and vices and from time to time you will clash over something, be it major or minor. Arguing over something doesn’t mean your relationship is over if that relationship is healthy. Even if you guys are happy and have been going through a really great patch in your relationship, it doesn’t hurt to visit a retreat or workshop from time to time. This weekend my husband and I visited a workshop and when asked prior to attending what issues you’d like to work on, we sat there and honestly couldn’t think of a single thing. We attended anyway, had a nice relaxing time together and enjoyed ourselves which we found to be a much needed opportunity since our daily lives tend to focus around his medical issues, VA appointments and the military retirement process and we don’t get as much downtime as we would like. Bottom line, the couples retreat or workshop isn’t a bad thing and your marriage or relationship doesn’t need to be in trouble for you to attend. It’s a great way to approach any issues you might have with a new perspective and helps to circumvent any possible issues that may come up in future and get to know each other a little better while becoming closer.
Disclaimer: Noemi Betancourt is a romance novelist. Relationship opinions and advice is based on personal experience and should not be taken as professional advice. If you have any relationship issues and need counseling or intervention, please seek out a professional.