Unbalanced Roles & Burden Sharing
Even with our better understanding of the historical construction of gender roles, material pressures, the extraordinary shift in the structure of employment and the variety of challenges to traditional notions can make relationships a battle-ground. Whether a single or dual career household - difficulties often arise in assigning priorities & responsibilities for many ordinary tasks of life. Sheer pace of life and rate of change - with economic and ecological uncertainty - mean that we need even better adaptive responses. We need to re-negotiate our lives and ways we work together in many respects on a rolling basis. Learning how to be a team is vital !!
Poor Engagement :-
It can be deeply disturbing if a partner is not properly engaged. They can easily let themselves be too busy or just dodge issues - their softer side out of reach - not offensive - but unavailable. Frustration takes a toll. Confronted with imminent separation or actual desertion, they have no idea how it happened or what to do.
Often the writing, large or small, has been on the wall for some time. Surprisingly often people are un-attuned to the signals and many missed opportunities to get back on course. When a full-blown crisis erupts they are devastated that the relationship has become so unhappy and feel powerless to affect matters.
So much of what happened is now so lost or so distorted in the recollection that it can be hard to discuss or reason it all together without getting angry and confused.
Therapists are a vital last resort under such circumstances - but by this stage - all bets are off - and damage limitation may be the best that an be achieved.
Over-Reaction to Bad Patterns :-
Many pairings have not experienced good parenting and lack processes for dealing with difficulty. Often they resolve never to resort to the patterns of apparent thoughtlessness or over-concern, aggression or passivity, sensitivity or indifference they witnessed when young. This can be particularly so in same-sex relationships. They can then Over-Idealise the relationship and support perfectionist strivings that are either too indulgent or demanding and oppressive.
There are other avoidant behaviours with unintended consequences. Trying to be ‘the best’ can be a problem. Parts of ourselves become unreachable through damming up the expression of natural irritation, frustration or sense of injustice, or by becoming self-denying and over-caring of others. This generates hidden imbalances & resentment which breaks out in other guises - more difficult to address. Paradoxically - these often come to resemble the original shunned behaviour.
Cross-Cultural Issues :-
A mix of culture and language in relationships can produce mis-read signals. There are often significant differences in family structures, patterns of authority and affiliation. Situations can easily be overlooked or concealed which would not have been taken on if known before. Misunderstandings or lack of finesse can prevent issues from being addressed in a timely way. Quite serious personality disorders or mental illness can remain undetected for years under a cloak of cross-cultural differences. If there are already children around, the need to moderate these influences is a powerful challenge even for the professional. This is usually impossible for the couple without such help.
Do any if these sound like your situation ?