Overcoming the Obstacles that Keep You Stuck
Many arguments between couples have fear at the heart. Whether it’s fear of abandonment, fear of being rejected, or a fear of falling apart – sometimes you can lash out at the person who you want to keep the closest to you. Even though the fight might look on the surface like it’s about something else, if you look close enough you can often find that some sort of fear is hiding just under the surface. By managing your fears, you can begin to calm the storm that has begun in your relationship and heal the wounds. Here are some tips for how to conquer the fear in your relationship so you can move into a healthy direction.
Name the Real Fear
When you start to feel triggered about your partner spending too much money on restaurant dining or weekend poker, figure out what the underlying fear is. Are you scared of your finances spiraling out of control? When you are angry because your spouse comes home late, are you afraid that you’re growing apart or that there is infidelity? Name the real fear in your relationship so that you don’t get caught up in a fight that won’t really resolve the actual issue at hand.
Share Your Fears
Now that you know what you are afraid of, it’s time to share it with your partner. You need to let your spouse in on the fear so he or she can recognize when it creeps up and understand where you’re coming from. When you share what you’re afraid of, own your feelings. For example, say “I’m afraid that you’re sharing more with your friends that you do with me, and we’re growing apart,” instead of “Why don’t you ever tell me anything?” When you put your partner in a position to be defensive, they may not react in a supportive way to your fears.
Don’t Let the Fear Spiral
Keep your fear within boundaries. Don’t let a fear about being abandoned turn into you jealously searching through your partner’s phone and demanding to know where he is all the time. Also keep in mind that any discussions about the fear should be kept to a healthy time limit. If one partner gets burned out on the topic, decide a future time where you will finish the conversation. Instead of letting your fear grow and spiral, set practical guidelines for how you will handle your fears as a couple. Decide which behavior will replace the ones currently guided by your fears.
Fear can rule your relationship if you let it. If you and your partner need help battling a major fear or insecurity, talk to a marriage and family therapist who can help by being a mediator. If you want to see if I can help, schedule an appointment today!
About Jennine Estes, MFT
Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653