Staying on Your Partner’s Island

January 14th, 2010

couples counselingAre you in a difficult situation with your partner or spouse?  Fighting, arguing, wondering if this will work?  If so, it’s not an unusual place to be.  Being in a committed relationship has many challenges.  Being vulnerable and trusting, especially when trust has been violated, is difficult.

How can you be present when you’re so angry?  One way is to try to “stay on your partner’s island.”  When your partner or spouse is speaking his or her mind, practice listening and understanding – staying on her or his island rather than swimming off to your own.  Most likely you’ll be thinking of your response, ready to fire back your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.  Tell yourself that you’re seeking to understand.  If it’s a mutual relationship, your partner can do the same. If the situation is too charged to listen this way, perhaps you need to schedule another time to discuss the concern.  During this time, gather your thoughts, speak with an understanding, supportive friend, and try again.

Connecting when you’re angry and hurt is difficult, but often worth the effort.  And remember, this is difficult work, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re not successful.  It’s a practice, not a perfection.

If you need more practice, perhaps a therapist or counselor can help.  Call me at 202/460-6384 or email me at if you’d like to explore couples counseling.

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