How To Deal With Difficult Partner Relationships

The durability of my insecurities as a person astounds me at times. I felt this sense of astonishment profoundly last week. Our family was driving to spend Thanksgiving with Erin’s family. Somewhere in Kansas Erin and I started talking about a conflict that had started the night before. The crux of the conflict was: I avoid connection and intimacy and this hurt’s Erin’s feelings. 

We Commit To Our Partner’s Difficulties

What hit me in this conversation is how many times Erin and I have had it. I’d say 3,126 times. Also, what stood out is how many times Erin has had to deal with her feelings being hurt. Yet, this is a reality couples often don’t anticipate. When you commit to a relationship you commit to dealing with your partner’s shortcomings. Yes, you get the good that comes with your partner but also the difficult. 

I felt a lot of respect and empathy for Erin as we talked. I did not feel shame for the repetitive nature of our conflict. My intentions are not to hurt her and I am responsible to try and change. This is something I accept. Considering Erin’s experience was sobering and motivating. The durability of my insecurities does not just influence me. 

Change is Challenging

Change is challenging. It entails altering ways of feeling, believing, and acting that have been around for eons. The delicate balance couples have to strike is asking for change and being gracious. Erin wants me to change and when I don’t she has to work to be gracious to me. This is what I felt in our car conversation. She was asking me to change but she was bearing with me as her partner. 

Her demeanor shook something loose for me. As we continued talking I felt something shift. Not a huge shift. But a small voice that reminded me, you need to change so that you stop hurting Erin. Again, there is not shame in this voice. Rather, this voice felt loving. 

Motivated by Love Not Shame

Commitment in a couple relationship means you get all of your partner. The good and the difficult. This invites each of us to the delicate dance of asking for change and showing grace. Erin’s graciousness helps push me towards change with love being the motivation not shame.