Articles by Jacqueline McDiarmid, Couple's counselling, Family counselling

Couples who never fight

Here at the Sydney Couple and Family Specialists we see many couples who want help because of constant bickering and or conflict that quickly escalates and gets out of control.

These couples require couples counselling because they need a safe place to discuss their differences and because they need to learn skills to help them
argue more productively.

However, some couples seek the safety of the therapy room for the opposite reason. They are couples who don’t know how to talk about their feelings with
each other. Who have trouble discussing their differences; who avoid conflict and think anger is bad. These couples fall into relationship category
“conflict avoidant”. Sounds okay doesn’t it? Surely this would make for a calm peaceful life with your partner?

Not in the long term.

It might be uncomfortable, but communicating real feelings and even expressing anger ensures your partner really “sees” you – and this leads to trust
and security in the relationship.

No communication of feelings means you really never know what your partner is thinking or feeling. This can lead to uncertainty or a sense of loneliness
and isolation.

Conflict avoidant people usually grow up in families where conflict or anger was not allowed or it was viewed very negatively. Showing or sharing feelings
is more difficult for these people because there is a strong sense of “it’s better to be nice” – perception is more important than reality. Conflict
avoidant people are always very nice socially. They are usually come from “nice” families. These people usually say that although their family was
nice they often report they don’t feel particularly close to family members.

Relationship counselling provides a safe space for conflict avoidant couples to to explore ways to communicate differences and to express anger without
feeling like the relationship is under threat or should end. These couples are literally coached to express and communicate their feelings and are
given exercises to manage their emotional response to anger. It is vital that the couple feels safe with the Counsellor and that the work is gentle
and well paced.

It can be very difficult to convince conflict avoidant couples that some healthy conflict in their relationship is okay, or that to communicate their feelings
to their partner is not going to threaten the relationship.

If you need further convincing, here are some common long term relationship issues we deal with many years down the track with a conflict avoidant couple:

  1. Affairs
  2. Addictions
  3. Depression and other mental health issues
  4. Relationship loneliness and resentments

As difficult as it is as times to discuss differences and relationship disappointments the fact remains that you will have them. Better to learn
to air your grievances in a healthy and productive way, than to end up with long-term relationship discontent or a break up.

If you think you and your partner would benefit from relationship counselling, please contact us now for an appointment on 02 8968 9397 or email

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