Home is supposed to be a refuge from the trials of the world. At home, we want to be able to be ourselves and to know we are loved and accepted. We want to let our hair down. We literally want to “feel at home”.
If you are having conflict with a partner or spouse, your home may have become a place of worry, unhappiness, conflict, or despair rather than a place of refuge. Whether you and your partner fight or you remain quietly unhappy and distant, there will be stress. It may seem paradoxical, but the people we care about the most are often the people with whom we experience the most stress and pain. When we are in disharmony with the most important people in our lives, it is almost impossible to feel truly happy in other areas of life even when they are going well. We know that at the end of the day we go home. It can be so heartbreaking when our dreams of happiness turn sour.
In relationships, communication is key but in order to communicate with our partners we must first communicate with ourselves. We have to understand our feelings, our hopes and dreams and fears before we can share them. We need to know in what ways we may be contributing to our own problems. We also need to mine for our strengths because those strengths might be the very things to bring us through the relationship crisis and move us toward relationship joy.
Learning to know ourselves and learning to communicate with our partners go hand in hand. To move forward, we have to slow down, accept that what we have been doing is not working well, and be willing to experiment with something new. Communication skills as taught by couples therapists will help you learn about yourself and your partner at the same time. It is a process that involves willingness, enough good feeling and optimism on both sides, and the proper guidance. Even if your situation is extreme enough that you are considering ending the relationship, it is important to be clear about your choice, communicate well, and know how to move forward in the most positive way.
Hopefully, your situation is not extreme and you have a partner who is also interested in working on the relationship. If not, you can begin to look for support and remedies on your own. Sometimes individual therapy is a prelude or adjunct to couples therapy. However, even on its own, it can help you to understand your needs and support you in communicating them at home. Talking through issues can lighten your load and reduce feelings of aloneness. It can also help you learn and practice mind-body and mindfulness techniques that will reduce stress and help you gain clarity.
If your home is stressful, address rather than avoid the issues. Think about what works well and what needs to change. Do self-inquiry. Understand your feelings and needs. Search for the positive in your relationship. Practice self-care and mindfulness. Surround yourself with positive friends and activities. Get help and learn skills. Many challenging relationships have turned into sources of love and support when given the proper attention. Hopefully, yours will too.