It’s a thought that haunts many couples: “What if we’re just incompatible?” You may feel this way especially after a string of arguments, silent treatments, or moments where you both seem to live on separate planets. But before you decide that your relationship is “too far gone to save,” let’s pause and reassess. At Kairos, we believe that the feeling of incompatibility is often a sign of despair, a fear that things won’t change. And while it’s tough, it’s crucial to look at the full picture before making such a life-altering decision.
The Danger of Premature Judgments
Making a snap decision about the “end” of your relationship is a risky move. All too often, couples give in to the hopelessness that springs from unmet needs and persistent conflicts, prematurely concluding that they’re fundamentally incompatible. Renowned psychologist John Gottman’s research highlights that conflicts in a relationship are not only inevitable but also essential for growth. Without undergoing a proper “repair process,” preferably with a professional’s guidance in couples therapy or marriage counseling, you may walk away with lingering regrets, wondering, “What if I had tried?”
Repairing Over Writing Off
When a relationship is fraught with conflict, it’s easy to assume that you and your partner are mismatched. However, a phase of disagreement or emotional distance doesn’t necessarily spell doom for a relationship. Experts like Dr. Sue Johnson, developer of Emotionally Focused Therapy, suggest that most “unresolvable” conflicts are actually solvable with the right emotional tools and connection strategies. The first step is often understanding each partner’s contribution to the damaging patterns, which can be effectively uncovered in couples therapy.
What are Damaging Patterns?
To recognize these damaging patterns, let’s consider a common one— the pursuer-distancer dynamic. One partner pushes for more closeness (the pursuer), while the other pulls away, seeking space (the distancer). Both individuals contribute to this pattern, and both need to make changes for the relationship to improve. Recognizing that both parties contribute to the cycle can be enlightening and can open pathways to constructive change.
Learning from Failures
Even if, after a genuine attempt to repair the relationship, things don’t work out, there’s value in the process. Couples therapy or marriage counseling provides a controlled environment where both partners can be heard and understood. Through these sessions, individuals often gain insights into their behavior and relational patterns, insights that can be beneficial in any future relationships.
Conclusion: You Won’t Know Until You Try
If you find yourself constantly wondering, “What if we’re just incompatible?”, take that as a sign—a sign that it’s time for couples therapy or marriage counseling. Before you decide your relationship is irreparable, consider investing time and energy into understanding the shared patterns that have contributed to your current conflicts and unmet needs. That way, even if you eventually decide to part ways, you’ll do so with the clarity that you gave it your all, leaving no room for haunting ‘what-ifs.’
Are you at that critical juncture in your relationship? Schedule a free consultation or contact us. We’re here to guide you through these challenging times, providing professional and empathetic support.
- Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (1999). “The seven principles for making marriage work”. Crown Publishers.
- Johnson, S. M., & Greenman, P. S. (2006). “The path to a secure bond: Emotionally focused couple therapy”. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 62(5), 597-609.
- Christensen, A., & Heavey, C. L. (1999). “Interventions for couples”. Annual Review of Psychology, 50(1), 165-190.
- Doss, B. D., Thum, Y. M., Sevier, M., Atkins, D. C., & Christensen, A. (2005). “Improving relationships: Mechanisms of change in couple therapy”. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73(4), 624-633.