The Art of Problem Solving

No relationship is without conflict and obstacles- life is filled with problems that require you to respond as a couple. Feelings of fulfillment, care and connection arise when you're able to effectively face issues together.  But facing issues together can be difficult- as both individuals have their own biases, views, resentments and triggers.  So how do you come together and find a way to mutually problem solve? Many times simple problems become enmeshed in triggers and resentments that make it nearly impossible to effectively and reasonably solve a problem.  

Identify the true problem.

Take responsibility for your feelings and make the time to identify what bothers you about a situation. It can be instinctual to respond in anger to our partner- but anger tends to be a surface level emotion that can be a response when feeling scared, sad, hurt, upset, abandoned, etc. When those true emotions are identified- create possible solutions for you to share with your partner.  Be flexible and willing to listen and compromise to your partners wants and needs. 

For instance, are you mad at your partner because they have been on their phone? Or are you sad because you don't feel connected to your partner? Are you afraid that they don't want to spend time with you and will abandon you? Perhaps it's another reminder that you haven't spent any quality time together. 

Talk it Out.  

Now that you have identified the problem and are clear about your true emotions you want to find a solution. Maybe you have realized that you're afraid your partner doesn't want to spend time with you and is tired of you. It's time to talk and explain to your partner what and why your emotions are. You don't want to bombard or attack your partner with these feelings amidst an argument. You want it to be a time where the waters are calm and you two are spending time together. Then go ahead and share with your partner, without blaming, what those feelings are and that you have a few possible solutions in mind that you would like to discuss. It can be easy to fall into blaming and shaming partners for their actions just as it can be natural to fall into defensiveness- as you or your partner may feel like their actions and behaviors are being attacked. You want to try and steer clear from these two places.  

Be open, honest and vulnerable with one another so you can reach a plan that you can both agree to.  Stay away from statements such as, "You always..." "Remember when you...," "What about when you..."   Try and be honest and receptive to one another's responses and reactions. Have an ongoing conversation of different resolutions and compromises for your problems. 

The hope is not to get it perfect not even right- but to be patient and persistent and try something different. Open new emotional doors of honesty and vulnerability in your relationship.

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