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Avoiding Avoidance: How to Talk about the Elephants in the Room

Posted at 1:58 PM, Mar 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-29 15:58:52-04

Therapist Anastasia Pollock talked about how avoidance slowly destroys relationships. These are her tips:

Sometimes it may feel easier to avoid conflict in a relationship than to face it, but avoiding can have damaging effects that will eventually destroy a relationship. Conflict is inevitable in a relationship. Think of irritations, annoyances, and resentments as elephants. The more issues you avoid, the more elephants you have in the room and the more crowded it gets. Pretty soon, you could end up with a herd of elephants. Everyone feels the tension, but no one is willing to bring it up for fear that it will explode.

If we avoid conflict in relationships, we avoid the opportunity to fix issues that need to be addressed. When left unattended, these issues take a major toll on the relationship. Topics that are commonly avoided include: sex, money, division of responsibilities, and irritations.

How can we avoid avoidance?

  • Talk about the elephants in the room. We can either acknowledge and talk about the elephants in the room or they will end up trampling all over our relationship. Conflict is inevitable and gives us the opportunity to work through issues. Everybody has quirks and we are sometimes going to get on each other`s nerves.
  • Set aside specific time to talk about gripes, annoyances, irritations and be completely honest. Even if you feel as though nothing is wrong, you may be surprised to find out your partner does not feel the same. Set aside time to connect with each other and to bring up any issues that are bothering either partner. We can and should be kind in bringing up issues but we should be direct and honest.
  • Be open to feedback. It`s not fun to hear about the things you are doing that bug your partner but know that when you are willing to take feedback, you are doing what it takes to maintain a healthy relationship.
  • Collaborate as a team to solve problems. Remember you are on the same team. As problems arise, brainstorm about how each of you can contribute to work through issues that arise.

To contact Anastasia or learn more go here.