Reframing When the Going Gets Tough

Reframing When the Going Gets Tough

Couples Therapy Bethesda MD

Disappointment as an unmet expectation. Conflict as an unmet need. Reframing these common yet sometimes debilitating experiences can be quite freeing. We often get too caught up in relationship distress to realize that there are things that we can do to improve the situation. We get isolated on our own emotional islands and forget that we are relational beings. Clear communication and aligning expectations are great ways to avoid both disappointment and conflict before they even happen.

Do you ever picture the perfect evening with your significant other? You will be perfectly in sync, you’ll have an amazing dinner out with captivating conversation the whole time… and then, it just doesn’t go as planned? Whether he’s too tired to go out, or she’s grumpy from a long day at work, our ideal vision doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes, two people in a relationship have a completely different picture of what the ideal day is. Perhaps you suggested a date night and were thinking you’d go out on the town, but to your partner this meant a cozy night in. Each of these scenarios leaves room for disappointment in the relationship, which can often lead to feeling unappreciated or resentful.

When we have relationship conflict, sometimes it feels like nothing can go right. Maybe you feel defeated, maybe you feel angry at your partner. Usually when there is conflict, some unmet need lies underneath the surface. This often comes out in ugly ways when we stifle our feelings and then explode, or when this need continues to be unmet over time. We often forget to think about solutions during these times, and may neglect to keep a shared goal in mind.

It’s important to be clear in our communications, even though it’s not always easy. Let your partner know what you expect, what you picture for your big night out. This allows them to work to meet the expectation! And alternatively, to offer their own perspective so that perhaps you can meet in the middle. Doing the work of communicating ahead of time can help you to avoid unnecessary heartache later on. Communicating about your needs benefits both partners; remember, you can’t read each other’s minds! Communicating a need in a way that your partner can hear is an important part of a relationship, it allows for recalibration, compromise, and growth.

Laura Golojuch, MS, LGMFT provides couple, family, and individual therapy in our downtown Bethesda office. You can learn more about Laura by reading her profile on our website. Call or email her today to set up your first appointment or a complimentary telephone consultation.