Have you ever wondered why your most significant relationship keeps going around and around about the same problems, compelling all involved to try to find a path to save the relationship, all the while wondering, “Am I with the right one?” or, ”Is there someone else out there that’s better for me?”  
It’s amazing to me how couples can become expertly capable of putting a band-aid on their disputes, disagreements and resentments, while, in reality, not being able to truly get over the negative emotions that have not been resolved. As if in a boxing match, couples can exist in this cycle for years, continuously recharging to stay in the ring for the next round. The next time the bell rings and they have a disparaging issue, the wound gets deeper and deeper. Soon, there’s too much blood loss. 
The scenario I’ve just described is one that gets painted vividly over and over by couples in therapy sessions. So, what’s the solution?  Well, it just so happens that focusing on that very thing – the solution – is the likely culprit.  When you think of solutions, you may think of something that is concrete, tangible – something you can plainly explain, put into words, or something that is relevant to what you are fighting about. 
Sometimes, it’s just not that simple. 
The real reason that couples get on a fighting merry-go-round and build resentments over the years is that this focus on solutions negates the emotions. Couples who become emotionally focused develop empathy which enables them to know one another better. 
Here’s what you can do to attain an emotional focus in your relationship:
• Show your partner that you are on his or her side. Setting boundaries with extended family, your children, your friends and your work shows your partner that you care and that he or she is most important.  
• Express your wants, needs and desires for the relationship in a way that you would like to be addressed.
• Learn about your partner’s wants, needs and desires. Have you ever asked? For example, questions concerning finances, children, extended family, sex, and domestic duties are important, for these are the issues where most couples have difficulty.  Pay attention closely.
• Express your life dreams to your partner. Where do you see yourself in 10, 20, 30 years?  What do you want to do? (This is not just an answer a potential employer should know about you!)
• Learn about your partner’s life dreams. Is what he or she does on a daily basis what he or she has always wanted to do? 
These points are helpful in creating a safe, secure and emotionally vibrant partnership. Just remember, pick a good time to address these topics – a time where there are no fusses, no merry-go-round and no announcer ringing a bell!

Karen Raby, MSSW,  MFT Associate, is a marriage and family therapist in private practice at Pathways Behavioral Health, PLLC. Raby can be reached at (502) 509-1179, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or through her website