Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.
Are you always walking on eggshells around your emotional, irritable, powder-keg of a partner?
This is a difficult communication dynamic that brings many couples to the marriage counselor’s office. If you’re dealing with this relationship problem, you’ve probably become more careful and guarded around your partner over time. You love them, and want them to be happy, but it seems like you can never do anything right. Or, at least, not for long. Then something happens and they’re mad at you again.
All you want is peace and harmony, but it can start to feel impossible when you’re living with someone who seems to always be upset about something. If it’s been going on for a while, you might feel increasingly helpless about how to make things better between you. Or, if this has been going on for a REALLY long time, you might have begun to think that your partner is just a cranky, overly emotional, possibly irrational, chronically unhappy person for whom nothing will ever be good enough. If that’s the case, I’m very happy that you’ve found this podcast — we have no time to waste!
First of all, you should know that having one partner in a relationship that “pursues” and one who “withdraws” is a very common communication dynamic, and one that experienced marriage counselors can help you with. Even though it feels so hard when you’re going through this kind of communication problem, it is something that many couples resolve successfully. There is no reason why you can’t do it too — and when you do, your relationship can be stronger than ever before. But like all relationship problems, it is unlikely to resolve on its own. You need some knowledge and basic skills before it will get better.
And that’s what we’re going to work on today: In part two of our “Communication Problems, and How to Fix Them” mini-podcast series, we’re going be talking about how to tame the tiger glaring at you from across the living room, and bring the peace back into your home. If you haven’t already, please listen to the first podcast in this series (posted last week) to learn about some of the basic concepts that we’ll be building on today. Then, we’ll talk about:
- Why your partner seems angry, irritable, critical, or hostile.
- What this dynamic does to your relationship, and the damage it can do unless you take action to stop it.
- What you can do to restore the emotional trust in your relationship, and start having conversations again — instead of fights.
I sincerely hope that this communication advice helps the two of you, and makes it easier for you to talk to each other.
With love and respect,
Ps. As I discuss in this podcast, while the ideas, tools and techniques I offer are very effective for helping resolve garden-variety communication problems there are situations in which it is not appropriate for you to try these out. For example, there is a big difference between “angry,” and “abusive.” If you are in a relationship where you or someone in your home is experiencing verbal, emotional, physical or sexual abuse you don’t need a podcast — you need professional help. Please visit my “emergency resources” page to get started in finding a competent mental health professional in your community. Xo, LMB
Your Relationship Questions, Answered.
Today, we’re answering your relationship questions in order to give you some direction, and real help for your relationship. Here are some of the relationship questions I’m answering today:
Ms M asks, “How do I know whether my relationship is worth saving, or if I should let this go and move on?”
- We discussed signs of a healthy, normal relationship, how to tell if a relationship can be fixed or not, what a committed relationship looks like, as well as warning signs that a relationship is probably not going to work out. We also talked about whether or not you’re settling in a relationship. Here are links to some of the resources I referenced: How to Recover From Infidelity, Repairing Your Self Esteem After a Breakup, Are You Addicted to a Toxic Relationship, and breakup-recovery.com.
Lisa asks: “Should I stay friends with my Ex?”
- We discussed the pros and cons of staying friends with your Ex, and how to decide whether or not you should. We also talked about how to cut the cord with your Ex, if the time is right. A resource shared was, “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to an Ex Love”
Mr. T asks: “I’m shutting down with my partner. How do I stop?”
- We talked about the different reasons that someone might have trouble dealing with conflict in relationships, and reasons why people might shut down and withdraw in relationships (as well as the path to repairing them). Resources mentioned included, How to Communicate With Someone Who Won’t Talk, Self-Awareness and Self-Discovery: The Path to Personal Growth, Creating Self Confidence, and Communication Problems And How To Fix Them
Ms. K asks: “I’m afraid that my boyfriend is emotionally unavailable due to his own issues. What do I do?”
- We talked about the realities of having a partner with unaddressed emotional issues, and who is not interested in working on themselves. We discussed her points of power, and her opportunities for changing the situation, as well as how to move forward with a partner who is unwilling. Resources mentioned included, What to Do When Your Partner Has a Problem.
Do you have relationship advice for these questioners or personal experiences that you can relate? Perhaps you have your own relationship questions, self-improvement questions, breakup questions, or career questions for an upcoming episode of The Love, Happiness and Success Podcast? If so, please leave them in the comments!
All the best,
Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast
Communication Problems and How to Fix Them, Part 2: The Angry Partner
Music Credits: “Violet,” by Hole