In my work as a marriage counselor, I find that I work harder to encourage couples to approach issues than I do to subdue arguments.
Are you avoiding a tough conversation? Do you tell yourself that you don’t want to rock the boat? Does it feel scary to approach the issue? Yet, you find the issue keeps eating at you. It is as though there is a battle going on inside where one side wants to get it out on the table and the other side says, “Run away (from the issue).”
Let me make a case for approaching those tough issues. Here are five reasons you should address the issue:
1. The tension of avoiding the issue will undermine your happiness. While addressing the issue will create tension, you will be happier in the long run by getting the issue out in the open.
2. The relationship will be better if you address the issue. Relationships don’t improve by avoiding tension; they only improve if issues are addressed, then dealt with in a way that is satisfying to both partners.
3. Your value will increase if you address the issue. By forcing your partner to address issues important to you, you are saying, “My views, feelings, and desires are important. I expect you to address them and be willing to compromise your views, feelings, and desires in order for the relationship to be mutually satisfying.”
4. You cannot get what you want in the relationship unless you learn to negotiate with your partner. It may seem as though you are behaving in a loving manner by being passive, but you are actually being a poor negotiator for what you want. Your partner will not see you as loving, but as giving (and ultimately as weak). Making expectations increases the “cost” of being with you, but also increases your value. Value increases as we pay more!
5. Ask a couple whom have been married for many years and are close what has been the major factors in building closeness and they won’t tell you about their enjoyable vacations or the bigger home they purchased. Instead, they will tell you about the tough times they survived by pulling together. If you do not address issues, then you are not providing the opportunity to draw closer to your partner. The goal is not to avoid tension, but to build an increasingly intimate relationship with your partner.