We all make numerous decisions every single day- from what to wear to what to eat for lunch. Early on, we become experts at decision-making such that, generally, small decisions are no longer mentally taxing. However, making a large life decision can be anxiety-inducing and cause tension in our relationships.
Humans are incredibly complicated creatures. As much we would like to believe that we are extremely logical when making decisions, we don’t realize that emotions play a huge part in making choices. So, what should we take into consideration when making these large decisions?
Is compromising the way to maintain a healthy relationship? Compromising sometimes can feel more like a “lose-lose” situation and leave both sides feeling angry and frustrated. My experience working with the domestic violence population also meant understanding a different meaning of “compromise.” In the context of domestic violence, compromise generally resulted in the victim sacrificing what they wanted.
and so on. Sounds right but when looked at the actual distribution, it is a bit “fairer” to one party.
What does healthy communication in a relationship require?
It requires actual communication. It requires all parties to come to the table with the actual intention of finding a “win-win” solution for everyone. Teamwork does not mean helping the other party see why you are correct. If you consider all parties as all part of the same team, it becomes less of a competition to get your way.
It requires you to know your priorities. Think of an episode of the TV show “Say Yes to the Dress” where someone other than the groom or bride is paying for the dress. How much weight does that person hold in the decision-making process? If it came down to being able to choose your dress or, perhaps, the flower arrangement, which is more important to you?
Boundaries are all about knowing where you draw the line. While with priorities you have to decide between a dress and, say, flowers, boundaries encourage you to walk away from an unhealthy relationship.
- Being Assertive
Being assertive means to find ways to remain confident with your view while being respectful in understanding the other person’s point of view. It does not mean that you necessarily have to agree with the other person but can also see validity in their statement. Take spice tolerance as an example. For someone, a spice level of 2 could require lots of external support to manage. It would be unfair for someone else to walk in and dismiss that person’s experience because he/she has a higher spice tolerance.
Due to different upbringing, generational difference, etc, you can disagree with someone but does not mean that you have to dismiss your experience or disregard his/hers.
The examples above are more light-hearted than the dark matters that exist in many families. Some toxic relationships may be beyond repair but some may require an outside-objective view to help each member feel heard. Family therapy is not supposed to be is a way to gang up on the “problem” person.
I recommend seeking couples counseling, before, early, or at any point of the marriage because many times we hold our thoughts back and we don’t give our thoughts the importance they deserve. As an outsider, a therapist may be able to ask the tough questions that you both may shy away from.
If you struggle with any of the qualities listed above, it is something you can work on with your therapist to help strengthen your voice.
Therapy is all about helping you and your loved ones find a healthy future. Reach out! That one call can change the dynamics of your relationships.