Jessica is a Licensed Psychologist (PSY-3991) and Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC-5464) in the state of Colorado. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and a M.A. in Counseling Psychology. She is also a certified Dream Builder Coach and LIfe Mastery Consultant. Dr. Jessica Higgins is also the founder and creator of Empowered Relationship, which is a comprehensive, research-based, transformational, relationship course. This course helps couples at any stage in their relationship or marriage.
The topic comes from a post by Dr. Higgins where she introduces 7 reasons why relationships feel so hard sometimes.
If you want to check out all of the reasons check out her post.
In the meantime, here are all 7 reasons:
1. We are uncertain of what to strive for in relationship.
2. We see our differences in relationship as a threat.
3. We don’t know how to deal with feeling vulnerable or scared.
4. Either we don’t see our work or we don’t know how to do our work.
5. We don’t take responsibility for our needs, preference, and desires.
6. We try to win over rather than win with.
7. We have competing internal needs.
In this episode we talk about (2) seeing our differences in the relationship as a threat, and (3) we don't know how to deal with feeling vulnerable or scared.
Dr. Higgins provides some great tips for how to address each of those.
And be sure to scroll all the way down to the end to check out a time-sensitive giveaway by Dr. Higgins. How does $250 towards a nice dinner or couples' massage sound? Pretty good right? The link to enter is at the end of this post!
When we view our differences in the relationship as a threat, people typically react in three ways that don't work:
1. One or both people try to change themselves to be more like the other person.
An introvert tries to match an extrovert.
An extrovert tries to become more introverted.
This can be problematic because you're not addressing the issue and one person is uncomfortable.
2. You try to change the other person.
This is the “if you would just… we would…” or “if you would just… I could…” thing.
We all know it doesn't work.
In fact, it creates even more conflict.
3. You bury your head in the sand and avoid the differences altogether.
This is the “time will heal” concept. You sweep differences under the rug.
This is problematic because small differences can gain strength over time and turn into big conflicts.
Instead of those three things, consider these tips:
1. Appreciate that differences are natural and don't mean there is something wrong with you, your partner, and the relationship.
2. Stop looking at differences as good, bad, right, or wrong. They're just differences. Each of you have strengths and weaknesses.
3. Use differences as opportunities to work together to accentuate the strengths of what each person brings to the table to do and be more together.
4. Have a discussion about your differences and keep on the right side of the fence.
5. Talking about your differences openly ahead of time. And stay on “your side of the fence.” In other words, don't try to get in your spouse's head to figure out what their intentions or motivations are when the differences create conflict. Instead, talk with your spouse openly about the differences you recognize in your relationship, share your motivations, thoughts, and feelings about your “different” traits. And listen and appreciate what your spouse shares about the motivations, thoughts, and feelings with their “different” traits.
6. Take care of yourself. Address the feelings and sensitivities you bring to the relationship. Learn to recognize your trigger points, commit to recognizing when you are getting frustrated and stopping or controlling it when you recognize things are heating up.
We don't know how to deal with feeling vulnerable or scared.
When we commit to love, it can bring up negative emotions such as fear of loss, insecurity, vulnerability, etc.
Dr. Higgins emphasizes however that negative emotions like vulnerability, fear, or even anger provide information about yourself and your past that can help you learn more about yourself and improve in the future. Anger, for example, will let you know that a boundary has been crossed, there is some type of injustice, or your feelings are hurt.
If you start seeing feelings of vulnerability and fear as providing an opportunity for you to learn about yourself and why you're experiencing those feelings, it provides you with a great opportunity to learn to recognize them during arguments and then react differently, thus helping avoid things escalating to unhealthy levels.
Over time, this can help you address those feelings and experience them less and less. It can help you heal.
In your relationship, talking openly about these feelings with your partner can help your partner become an advocate on your behalf, rather than a source of conflict because you don't know how to deal with those feelings. Your spouse may learn to recognize these feelings and help you recognize them. Your spouse may help “clear the air” about misunderstands that lead to you feeling vulnerable or scared. The list goes on.
Check out the episode for more about each of these. And be sure to check out all 7 reasons on Jessica's blog right here: 7 reasons why relationships feel so hard sometimes.
Also, you will hear on the episode that Dr. Higgins is hosting a giveaway, which will be active through the end of April 2015 I believe. All you need to do is fill out this survey about relationships and you'll be entered for a chance to win $250 towards an awesome dinner out or couple's massage. Be sure to check out Jessica's site for “all the deets.” Hurry up because it's only for a limited time!