When living with a spouse or partner is hard

PIXABAY/CC0

PIXABAY/CC0

Anytime you try and combine two individual lives into some type of coupling, things can and often do get messy. Maybe one of you is a morning person and the other a night owl, maybe one is very organized and detail oriented while the other is a bit of a slob and doesn’t plan ahead. Whatever the differences you find, they can be quite difficult to manage at times. Here is a brief rundown of a few things partners/spouses may run into and some ideas about what might help change that situation.

What to do when (it feels like) your spouse or partner hates your family?

Families are tough. Maybe you had a great family and couldn’t imagine someone having any issue whatsoever with your parents/siblings/cousins, etc. or perhaps you have a bunch of rotten and selfish people you share some DNA with and completely expect others to take issue with them. Odds are that you fall somewhere in between. You probably have a decent relationship with some or most of the members of your family and expect others who meet them to feel the same. But in this instance your partner/spouse cannot stand them. In a practical sense you may want to look at ways to minimize their interactions with family. More holistically you may want to ask for your partner/spouse to answer some “what” and “how” questions about the problem. What does aunt Sally do that makes you mad? How is cousin Steve being a jerk, like what’s he do? The more you can identify specific things the more you can begin to understand what is really motivating the anger. Maybe you have that one uncle who is really racist and that bothers your partner/spouse, perhaps you have a cousin that reminds your partner/spouse of a childhood bully. Whatever you discover, it can give you a place to start figuring out how you want to handle family and helps you learn about your partner/spouse even more.

What to do when (it feels like) your spouse or partner hates you?

Odds are that they probably don’t. It can sometimes feel like your partner/spouse has nothing good to say about you and doesn’t like you anymore. This is unpleasant. Something important to consider when trying to overcome this kind of issue is what might be causing your partner/spouse to be angry. This isn’t to say that their emotional responses to you are your responsibility but to ask you to investigate what is causing the anger to happen. If your partner/spouse is mad when you get home from work later than you said, then the idea of expectations not being met is something to talk about. If you find that when you two are talking about how to parent the kids things get heated, then finding the ways in which you disagree merits further study. Try to be a detective and look for the things that could be causing distress and then go from there to how you two can work together to resolve that conflict. Maybe therapy or couples counseling?

What to do when your spouse or partner won’t go to counseling?

This can be a tricky proposition. A lot of the discussion depends on how the idea of couples therapy or counseling is brought up. If it comes out like, “you are a terrible partner/spouse and we need to see a therapist to fix you” then you will probably be met with a lot of resistance. If you want to take your partner/spouse to counseling because you think they are the problem, then it might end up like this. If you approach the issue from a perspective of a shared desire (e.g. to have the relationship improve) then you will likely encounter more success. But ultimately you can’t force someone to go to counseling - and even if you could it probably wouldn’t help a reluctant participant. Therapy takes work and effort from all parties involved, and the best success I’ve ever had comes from participants eager to work on their relationship - even if they currently can’t stand one another. The more you can help align the goals of both people in the relationship to include trying to make that relationship better, the more likely you will be to both come to a spot where you want to try therapy. In short, don’t try to “fix” your partner/spouse, ask them to join with you to fix the relationship.