Dr. East SPEAKS: Seeing Both Sides to the Relationship & Doing What YOU Want to Do
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Dr. Carleah East is a clinical psychotherapist, empowerment coach, speaker, and author with 20+ years experience. She has a “straight no chaser” philosophy; real solutions for real struggles, and she does it all with a mixture of love and humor.
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I am very stubborn when it comes to anything in life and most of the time, it is what causes the most arguments between my partner and I. How can I learn to see both sides of the relationship so that we fight less.
A key to having a successful argument or debate. Is to 1st be silent and listen to what the other person is saying and then try and see things from their perspective. It’s not always about your intent. When arguments arise, we tend to become defensive because it wasn’t our intent to hurt someone or to create a scenario or to come across the way that we did and we feel misrepresented. However, the perception of the person receiving the message is also important. Facial expressions, body language, your tone or even the verbiage you use can create a different dialog between you and another person. Next, focus on not raising your voice. This can easily escalate the situation.
It’s also OK to table a conversation until both parties have time to cool off. It’s an opportunity to take a small pause to regroup, take a drive or remove yourself from the situation in order for both of you to come back with more sensible minds. The next thing that I would suggest is writing a letter to express yourself instead of always speaking verbally. It allows you to get that 1st draft out of the way ie: all the things you really want to say lol, but then allows for re-writes so you are clear on your thoughts and your feelings. Lastly, I always promote therapy especially couples counseling to help you navigate communication and uncover past conflicts that may be impacting you today.
My boyfriend is very close to his family, he always has been. We see them about once a week and my family is about two hours away from us so we see mine about once a month. How can I nicely tell him that I simply don’t want to see his family every weekend and that we should try seeing mine more often?
The best policy is always honesty. I would communicate with him that you would like to see your family more or that you’d like for both of you to see your family more. Maybe an every other weekend schedule so that both families get equal opportunities to see each other. Let him know that you do feel a lot of the time you’re only going to see his family and although you enjoy those times you want equal time with your family.
Another possibility is for both of you to see each other’s families once a month and then both of you to see your family separately once a month. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you have to do everything joined at the hip. Is perfectly OK and healthy for him to just go visit his family and for you to just go visit your family. Both of you don’t want to disconnect from your roots but you’re also trying to find a balance of staying connected with one another. Splitting time with family both together and apart may work well.
A lot of times, I feel like my boyfriend and I are doing what he wants to do. The simple things that I want to do with him like go to the grocery store or run to Target is like a task because I have to beg him to come with me. How can I resolve this?
This question is multi-layered. For starters, you have to recognize the type of man that your boyfriend is. If he is not the type that likes to go to the grocery store or to retail stores and this has always been his behaviors, you can’t automatically get upset because he’s doing exactly what he always has done. With that said, if he’s able to go to those places when he wants to go, but not when the both of you go together then you may want to ask him why he prefers to go alone. He may need a gentle reminder that the 2 of you are in a partnership and this is supposed to be a shared experience.
Also, are you spending time outside of those areas? Quality time to him may be defined as dinner and the movies or you guys going to a lounge, whereas you define quality time for you is him being by your side as you run errands. So that needs to be clear. In my household, I usually run errands on my own because I’m able to get it done and it’s my alone time. Sometimes I invite my husband, just in case there is something that he wants to do. If that’s not in his plan I don’t really get upset about it because we spend a lot of quality time outside of those areas. Therefore, him going with me to Target or to Publix is not a priority for me. Try finding things that both of you enjoy doing and focusing on those. Let those adventures fill your time together so running errands solo is not a big deal.