New relationships begin with so much promise that, in the early days, it?s hard to imagine that a few weeks or months down the line, there will be such misunderstanding that the relationship looks as if it?s destined for the rocks. However, this is the story of so many relationships that begin on a great footing but reach a road block that leaves each person standing at the crossroads wondering if they are destined for each other or are best to go in different directions.
The reality is that headiness of the early days of any relationship has a time limit on them and if you can weather the changes, it can change for the better. But it does involve high levels of communication ? with yourself to understand the strong emotions that usually accompany these challenges, and with the other person who themselves comes with their own story of what to expect.
Disagreements or fights usually arise because of differences in values, beliefs and expectations. When a couple meet and start the dating process, the mood is light, exciting and full of possibilities of where this might go. However, any challenge to the story we inevitably begin to tell ourselves about the other person and what relationships should be like, gives rise to doubts and fears. This is where a high level of self-awareness becomes invaluable ? hence the saying ?To really get to know yourself, you must know yourself first?.
Do you bail out at the earliest sign that the other person?s behaviour is unacceptable and tell yourself that it is surely a sign that all is not well ? or do you ask yourself and the other person some questions which might throw more light on what the other person is all about?
When emotions are high, it is often difficult to marshal y our thoughts and communicate them clearly to the other person. One thing for sure ? if your or the other person?s reaction to something seems to be way out of proportion to the threat posed, this is almost certainly a reaction to something other than the presenting problem. The presenting problem has pushed a button that gives rise to associated fears, anxieties and storytelling that accompanied the initial experience.
But what do you do now when caught in the grip of a decision of whether the disagreement is a sign that this is not the relationship for you or whether this is just a familiar path you have travelled before and it?s time to break the pattern? The answer I give all my clients is that to have great relationships you must have a great relationship with yourself first. The real work has to be done within yourself ? so time spent understanding your reactions and beliefs about the fight and relationships in general is the best investment you can make for this relationship or any other one. Write down your expectations and beliefs about relationships and how this person or the situation influences how you view what is going on? For example, if someone has an experience of people cheating on them before, it is all too easy for them to make this assumption at the slightest indication of the other person being untrustworthy.
Whatever your story, it is your job to make sense of what is happening to you now and how the past is influencing your present ? only then can you start to make changes to break your link with the pain of the past and learn effective communication skills to navigate new relationships ? without the veil of unquestioned assumptions, perceptions and stories that are often unrelated to the person standing in front of you. You may of course need some coaching or counselling help to do this but it will be the best investment you have made ? because the quality of your communication directly matches the quality of all your relationships.