One of the more surprising things about working with couples is how some relationships fail because of seemingly minor things. Most people think relationship failure happens because two people have big disagreements, however relationship expert Beverly Craddock with Hawaii Relationship Coaching says that isn’t the case.
“If you think about it,” she says, “the big differences generally prevent relationships from taking off in the first place. We typically don’t dive deeply into a relationship with a person who is completely set apart from our values, personality, or beliefs. Over time, differences can develop and big fights can sink a relationship, but most of the time it is the small arguments that stack up until one small thing becomes too much.”
In some relationships, couples survive rough years of infidelity, dishonesty, or even angry outbursts only to settle into a long period of relative calm. That calm period is eventually disturbed by the usual disagreements that come with living two lives together. Beverly says the two partners in that relationship may feel disagreements more deeply because of the bruises that remain from past difficulties. She says the solution is sometimes pretty simple.
“Working with partners separately, we have them imagine a conversation between their current self and their younger self back when the big problems were going on,” Beverly explains. “It’s interesting to watch as the younger version is shocked at how small the current problems are in comparison to what they were going through back then. It’s an immediate perspective shift and an important one.”
Beverly says that small disagreements can blow up a relationship because in the absence of bigger disagreements, the small ones seem big. “The mind is always on the lookout for danger and it will amplify small dangers when larger dangers are not present,” she says. “This trick of the mind can make things feel like it is worse than it really is.”
Beverly also says that almost all relationships between people can benefit from one big secret. She encourages clients to ask themselves if they’d rather win an argument or be happy.
“Sometimes you can’t have both,” she tells them. “And if you had to choose, you’d probably choose to be happy over winning that fight. If you’d rather be happy then right, then the arguments often become irrelevant.”
Beverly once worked with a couple who was headed for a big split because the wife wanted to take a bottle of wine to the condo pool. The fight over whether she could sneak a glass bottle into the pool turned into an argument over the husband being controlling. After months of arguing, they made an appointment for some help. It was critically important to get them both to see that it was better to be happy than to be right. Sure, glass is banned at every pool - the husband was right but he was letting his relationship suffer over his need to be right.
“Before any argument with your partner, ask yourself if you’d rather be happy or right,” Beverly concludes. “It’s the simple secret that can make a huge difference in all interpersonal relationships.”
Beverly’s work with couples is enhanced through her years of experience as a master hypnotist and co-owner of Hawaii Hypnosis Center. She says that work has taught her hundreds of techniques that can help couples thrive in relationships even when they think the relationship may already be done.