Decisions, decisions. For Cheryl and Wally Jablow, coming to an agreement is virtually impossible. Our love expert shows this California couple how to stop fighting and find their common ground.By Brenda Della Casa
When Cheryl and Wally Jablow started dating in 2001, living in different cities - she in Chicago and he in Oakland, CA - meant that many "date nights" were spent on the phone, talking about their hopes and dreams for the future. But nine years later, the clear lines of communication that once brought them so close have now become filled with static; it's practically impossible for the Palmdale, CA, couple to make even small decisions together. And their inability to discuss life's touchier topics - such as whether to move closer to a major city or how and when to start a family - has brought their marriage to a standstill. "When we start to talk about some of the bigger issues, our conversations become overwhelming and unproductive," says Wally, 44, a commercial pilot. As a result, Cheryl and Wally both shy away from discussing difficult subjects - and abruptly end conversations once they become uncomfortable. "We wind up getting so annoyed with each other that we never revisit the topic, leaving it unresolved," says Cheryl, 42, an event planner.
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"Cheryl and Wally share a desire to resolve their communication issues," says Jennine Estes, a marriage therapist in San Diego. "Sadly, neither one of them feels comfortable enough to express themselves in a way that makes them feel heard or understood." While both Cheryl and Wally are trying to protect their relationship by walking away from contentious topics, they are actually reinforcing the idea that it isn't safe to discuss their feelings with each other. "By avoiding disagreements, the Jablows are actually creating more conflict and distance in their relationship," Estes says. For this couple to be able to make some of their bigger decisions, they need to learn how to communicate in their day-to-day interactions and acknowledge the impact that staying silent is having on their marriage.
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