When it comes to untruths big and small, it’s important to face them, because they can have lasting effects. “We want our partner to see us in a certain way and we think, ‘If he really sees who I am or what I’ve done or how I’m feeling, he or she wont love me anymore.’ So we try to keep this persona, and we don’t want to share the darker parts of ourselves,” Judith says. “This is a bind in relationships because then your partner can say, ‘I love you’ and you think, ‘You wouldn’t really love me if you knew this about me.’ This is so damaging to intimacy.”
That’s what builds the relationship
We all have things in common with our parents, but that can often be a touchy subject. And when a partner points similarities out in a fight, it’s usually not said as a compliment. “You use it against the other person because, whether they hated that parent or they worship that parent, they have strong unfinished business,” Bob says.
Judith explains the low blow:. “It’s shows that you’re not really able to talk more deeply about what it is you really need, want, and feel. It’s like throwing a bomb rather than really letting the other person know the details.” Instead, ask yourself – or your partner – what’s the real issue at hand?
But if one partner feels like they’re being left in the dust, they can feel betrayed or distanced. “When someone starts to grow and change and their partner is threatened, the person decides not to grow anymore and can become afraid of the change themselves,” Judith says. “The happiest and healthiest relationships are the ones where you bring more back into the relationship.” The key, she adds, is to support each other’s efforts to learn and grow.
When your partner blurts out something you really wish he hadn’t, there are a lot of different ways to deal with it. You could ask him about the comment later in private, or you could accuse him of humiliating you on purpose. Bob says that when the latter becomes the norm, a couple has stopped empowering each other. Judith adds: “It’s not that we shouldn’t be able to talk about stuff, but certain couples use it to put their partner down, in order to one up. That’s dirty. If something is bothering you, say it to each other and don’t use the public to make the point.”
In other words, good relationships are worth fighting for – literally – so speak up
Blending families can be a complicated, sometimes sticky, endeavor. In The Heart of the Fight, the Wrights tell the story of a client who consulted with her parents before any major decisions – often calling them before giving her husband the latest news. This is a sign of immaturity, the doctors say.
“It’s time to stop defining yourself as your parents’ child. It means both of you really growing up and claiming, ‘This is my woman; this is my man; we are a family,'” Judith says. “That’s where the bond needs to be. It doesn’t mean you can’t visit families, but you have to decide your own values, and how you spend your holidays, and what are your traditions and your rituals as a couple. “
Or you’re keeping big secrets. Either way, fights that involve lies or broken promises can be a big problem – even if they’re not about huge deceptions, like affairs. “Couples tend to manage each other,” Judith says. “They’ll present something in a certain way. Or say, ‘I’ll wait until he’s in a good mood,’ or ‘I’ll only tell him this part.’ You haven’t built up a sense of trust or an agreement that you’re really going to be partners. Best friends tell each other everything.”