Love Bites: 5 Relationship Questions, Answered
It’s no secret that love isn’t always fairy-tale perfect. For the answers to common relationship questions we’ve all likely pondered at one point or another, Style turned to local marriage and family therapist Joe Borders, MFT, for the answers.
I do so much for my partner and they don’t seem to appreciate it. Why?
You might have differing love languages. We all express love and perceive it from others in different ways. The five main love languages are gift giving, words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, and quality time. Take a moment with your partner to discover each other’s love language; you might be bringing her flowers when she really wants you to hold her hand and hug her more often.
Is this thing my partner does normal?
In a relationship, it’s less important if something is “normal” and more important to discuss how you feel about it and if it’s within the rules of the relationship. It’s very common for people to get upset at their partners thinking, “if they loved me, they wouldn’t do that.” We assume there’s a concrete idea of a “good relationship” that we all share; reality is, every relationship is different, and you need to talk about what’s off-limits for you and build empathy for each other in these regards.
Sometimes I get angry and say things I eventually regret. How can I change?
Anger can come from all kinds of places, but the most common case I see is when a person doesn’t feel heard and understood. One of the most important things in any relationship is your ability to be vulnerable with your partner, which, for some people, can feel scary or unsafe. Sometimes it seems easier to blame and yell at someone rather than saying you’re feeling hurt and disconnected. Work on finding coping skills and expressing your emotions in a constructive way.
Something bad happened between us. How do we get over it?
Be open and patient with each other. It’s important for the person who was hurt to be able to express their emotions, and for the other person to hear and empathize with what the other is saying. Trouble happens when one person doesn’t feel heard and the other feels irritated, gets impatient, and thinks “why can’t we just move on?” It’s hard, but in cases like this it often becomes one person’s job to try to be vulnerable again, and for the other person to be patient with being distrusted. Both are painful experiences and push on our inner need to fight or flight.
Should we separate?
There’s no universal answer to this, but barring the presence of abuse, I generally believe that all relationships can be saved. The question is: Do you really want to save it? Oftentimes we become hurt and distant in relationships and feel like our partner is a completely different person from the one we fell in love with. You can reconnect and repair; it’s all about being open and expressing your emotions in a healthy way.