"Nothing ever seems to get resolved!"
This is a common concern I hear from couples when we first meet. They even have told me that if I came to their home, I could find all all kinds of issues that have been "brushed under the carpet"!
Not being able to resolve even simple issues is a byproduct when couples argue. We call this the "negative cycle," in which arguments continue and often one partner shuts down because they don't know how to handle the conflict. Then, often both partners don't want to bring up the issue again, fearing another argument. So, while couples often have learned to "recover" from an argument, they tip-toe around the issue to avoid another conflict.
Over time, partners' feelings become bruised from the arguments. Things may be said that are unintended, but hurtful. So, the couple continues to avoid topics that can lead to those heated, uncomfortable arguments. The result? Issues don't get discussed and certainly don't get resolved.
When couples get caught in the negative cycle, it's important to note that no one is to blame or is at fault when this is brought to the counseling process. Rather, the real "enemy" is the negative cycle that evolves in which arguments seem to never end, in which one person may seek answers when the other withdraws or shuts down.
Importantly, when couples fall into their negative cycle, they get stuck in not only the subject matter of the argument, but they also usually can't get to a safe place where they can discuss the hurt feelings and emotions that lie beneath.
In counseling, I help couples first identify the negative cycle, learn to get out of the cycle more quickly and then learn to reconnect on the important feelings of caring and love that brought them together originally (and that keep them trying so hard to stay together and find more peace!).
Through this counseling process, couples can find more lasting results than if they just learn communication skills. They learn to create a safe, loving environment in which they can turn to their partner for comfort, to feel understood and fully "heard," and to feel loved and cared for.