More often than not, this question is asked during readings I do for clients and often leads to multiple counseling sessions. It’s a very big question, with lots of answers, but we can always start with, “Commitment to a relationship requires facing the issues.”
I once counseled a couple who agreed on all the big issues: money, religion, child-rearing, family values, politics, etc. but they couldn’t agree on the little things, like who takes out the trash, who picks up the kids on Tuesday, and should we get a dog or not?
It all boils down to communication and how we interact with each other – both verbally and non-verbally – and whether or not there is a deeper issue at the core.
It turned out the female in the situation I mentioned above was having issues with a co-worker who was taking credit for her work, sabotaging the group project and blaming it on my client. As a result, my client felt out of control and her security at work was threatened. Rather than confront the co-worker or talk to her boss about the situation, she took her frustration out on her husband by demanding that he take care of the housework and help out more with the kids. He bristled at her demands, becoming passive aggressive and withdrawing.
Normally, her husband would have helped out, but his issue with his wife was in the way she was asking. He expressed that she always seemed to be on edge and snapped at any attempt at conversation. Both were willing to explore the change in their relationship and after some digging, we discovered the core issues for both that caused them to react the way they did.
Once the wife realized that her husband loved and supported her no matter what happened at work, she felt secure enough to confront the co-worker and the situation improved.
It was this couple’s willingness to look at the issues and dig deep to find solutions that both of them felt comfortable with that made their relationship work.