Couples came together for they found themselves attracted to each other. Different studies show us on how we select our partners. We have a picture of what kind of partners we MUST and WANT to have. We select based upon traits, similarities, complementarity, what our probable losses and gains, and how we match our selves with a potential partner. Now that we have attracted a partner, keeping it together is a whole different ballgame. Eventually, people just slack back to themselves and partners complain against each other that they were just good when it all started. He says, she says… the story begins…

The challenge of committed relationships is staying together.

1. ”I” and ”US”
Conflicts are generally because of this. We are torn with maintaining our identity and giving in to our partner’s preferences. This toggle within you and also in your partner makes the “WE” in the relationship.

It is still up to YOU what principles, values you are willing to retain and learn from your partner and what to LOSE. If you lose some, you win some but it’s up to you what to give.

I couldn’t tell you any further how important it is to communicate and negotiate with your partner of what you are and what you would like in a relationship.

Conflicts are healthy. If you say that in your relationship you’ve never fought or you always agree, then you’re not there yet.

Couple conflict is too dramatic, emotionally investing and distressful sometimes. When couples are in conflict, this is a way to negotiate individual differences.


In a dyadic relationship, there is usually the DOMINANT-SUBMISSIVE relationship. This dominant-submissive roles is synonymous to the leader-follower relationship. Whoever that is, depends on who gives in, who takes and who wants to lead in most of the opportunities in the relationship. This relationship develops implicitly, that is, no written rules are given. It just happens.

Couples need to realize who is the leader or the follower. The underlying conflicts here are who is in one’s favor, who listens, who doesn’t, who provides and who receives.

Couples fight because they sometimes feel that their needs aren’t met or one of the partners is not respected. LEADER-FOLLOWER roles emerge because there are tasks in the relationship that make the couple relationship go further and faster. Thus, LEADER-FOLLOWER or DOMINANT-SUBMISSIVE roles is NOT BAD. It has its PURPOSE. Couples just need to be aware on what situations, and on who portrays the role and why.

For couples to have TEAMWORK, they also need to be in an EGALITARIAN (equal standing) relationship. Egalitarian relationship means they constantly check on how the other one thinks and feels about specific things, events and people in the relationship.

DISTANCER-PURSUER is one of the intriguing roles in couples. A partner distances, the other one pursues. This is better seen in a nagging wife versus a distant husband. The wife nags because the husband does not engage in the chores at home. The husband distances himself from the wife because of the nagging of doing the household chores at home. Another is, a boyfriend pursues and finds time to talk to his girlfriend. The girlfriend distances because of her boyfriend’s persistence. To pursue is showing interest for the other, however being too focused is not good in a relationship. To distance is a SELF-PRESERVATION move, but having too much distance is not healthy since in couplehood, it’s all about SHARING and CONNECTION.

These are just a few examples of the nature of dyadic relationship roles and this is just at a surface level. There are more to dig in.

Listening is one of the skills that is so hard to accomplish. Listening could be mistaken as submission, but listening is one of the MOST POWERFUL SKILLS in the relationship. The couple’s depth of relationship wouldn’t go further when no one listens.

LISTENING is a way to know more about the partner, and understand why your partners react to certain stimuli and the chain reactions.

EMPATHY is the means of being there for your partner and feeling for your partner without you being dramatic. Empathy is putting yourself in your partner’s shoes. If you can’t be empathic to your partner, just humbly say that you can’t relate because you haven’t been in the similar situation. This way, you gain respect from your partner and you will learn that your partner reacts to situations similar what to s/he’s is undergoing at the moment.

Seemingly easy but one of the toughest skills to develop just like Listening.

Realistically speaking, a couple relationship and everything in between is emotional. Couples could be calm and assertive to things in the relationship that do not bear emotional association to the couple. However, things could be emotional when listening is not done by one of the partners.

So how does calm and assertive communication start?

By accepting what you haven’t accepted about yourself. You see we all have IDEAL SELVES (technically, ideal self-concept). When we haven’t accomplished that, we feel EMBARRASSED or humiliated to which we impose to ourselves. Practically, you chiefly IMAGINED that the other person is humiliating you. This is a learned assumption from experiences (parental or other close relationships). With these assumptions sometimes we act defensively.

By acknowledging and telling your partner what you’re ideal traits are and what you really are, makes the person interested in you. This signals your partner that you want to become a better person. Ideals are good!

Further tell your partner, what made you think, feel and act in certain situations especially when in conflict. In the end, your partner understands and learns how to adjust with you. (But if in most cases you can’t explain, you need professional help).

Can’t you see how your “I-ness” affect your relationship?

Oh yes, for every conflict, there is forgiveness. Saying “I’m sorry” means the other person did not intend to do it. However, forgiveness in a relationship doesn’t mean to never do “IT” again (whatever it was).

Couple or marital relationships is a cycle of getting wounded, scarred, wooed and feeling good. Successful marriages and couples who have aged together can attest to that.

We are born imperfect. It is up to you HOW WILLING you are to put up with the differences.

The greatest gift that you can give to your partner is the GIFT OF YOUR BEST SELF. This is what you bring to the relationship and that will bring you closer together and the “WE” in couples.

But I believe that a good partner always wants the BEST OF YOU and for BOTH of you and taking the “WE” steps further. So take your time to do tasks together, play together, go out with other couples and discover more of your self and your partner.

Conflicts are ALWAYS there but again, still go back to listening and be assertive for which you think are important in the relationship. Negotiate, be objective, and acknowledge your feelings. The calmer you both are when you discuss things, the better.

Author's Bio: 

Jean Capangpangan is a learning strategist, trainer, writer and consultant to SMEs. She uses concepts & tools in psychology, learning, business management and industrial engineering in order to provide sound solutions to optimal employee productivity and organizational performance. She has catered to company needs in operations, talent management, employee engagement, learning and development to industries like retail, manufacturing, non profit and BPOs.

She is currently the Founder of SharedPsyche, simultaneously working with the International Institute of Coaching in the areas of Administration and Communications.

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