... and it's not what you think!
It’s common knowledge that the Number 1 reason couples fight is because of money.
The trouble is, this common knowledge is wrong.
There are three main drivers of conflict in relationships, and unheeded, they can cause much unresolved and ongoing drama, stress, and division.
1 Unmet expectations
I once read about the emotion of anger being described as ‘disappointment energy’, an apt description of unmet expectations.
He thought she was happy with decision ‘x’ that they had reached. However, she was in a ‘pretend agreement’ with him, only he didn’t know it. She was really hoping that he would agree with her, and when he didn’t, she said “yes” to decision ‘x’ to keep the peace.
But then she got angry with him when she said yes but actually meant (and should have said) no.
This is a common relationship conflict dynamic, and occurs when honesty in a relationship has become a trade-off to conflict avoidance. It’s unsustainable, and ultimately futile. Better to tell the truth, and let the natural consequences of the truth play out.
2 Emotional baggage
No-one escapes life without accumulating some emotional ‘bruising’, whereby circumstances or events have left a ‘trigger-point’ of some description upon the soul of the bearer.
This means that a firm ‘No’ can be nominated as someone ‘being difficult’, or a raised voice is labelled ‘you’re being abusive’, or setting boundaries around money, time, or resources is attacked as ‘being controlling’.
Catastrophising everything, just because you have lost any and all perspective of what is and what is not appropriate in a relationship conflict, is not the way to harmony.
Your feelings are YOUR feelings, and no-one is MAKING you feel anything.
How favourably do you view your partner? Do you perceive that they have your back, that they will defend the best interests of the relationship, that they would stand up for you?
Or do you see your partner through eyes of mistrust, bitterness, despair, or doubt?
Is this perception correct?
Is there perception of you likewise?
When was the last time you had this conversation as a couple? Might now be a good time to do so?
Let’s make 2020 the year that couples work to keep a clean slate in their relationships with each other.
Steve is the Director of Relationship Matters Ltd. He holds two applied Bachelor's degrees (Counselling & Addiction) and a P.G. Dip. in Applied Social Practice. Steve is married with two children and lives in West Auckland.