Relationship Tip; Why communication is the key. Here at the Relationship Centre, we often see that couples who come to us have lost the art of communication. Let’s face it, it’s hard to communicate with your partner when you feel hurt, angry and unloved. We have to introduce a way that will allow them to start talking with each other, rather than at each other.
We ask them to try the communication tool below. It’s not easy at first, but we find couples get better at using it, and then suddenly they feel they are listened too, and feel more connected. This is a powerful way of developing a relationship, even when you feel there are little wrong with it.
Talk Only When Calm.
This approach can only work when both of you feel emotionally calm. If you decide to talk and one of you starts to feel angry/frustrated/sad, then it’s important that you have an agreement that if one of you feels this way, you take a ‘time-out.’
This should ideally be 30 to 60 minutes, or maybe you need the rest of the day, but you go away and do something that calms and soothes you, and then it’s important that you re-visit the conversation again (within 24 hours ideally) and re-visit as many times as you need to complete the conversation while you’re both feeling calm.
Step 1. Talk about your feelings. Use the word “I” rather than “you” and, your partner won’t feel attacked, criticised or blamed.
For example; “I’m feeling sad and angry……”
Step 2. Talk about the situation that has caused your feelings, again avoiding any blame towards your partner.
For example; “I’m feeling sad and angry because I thought you were arranging a night out, and I was looking forward to you doing it”
Step 3. Tell your partner what you need.
For example; “I’m feeling sad and angry because I thought you were arranging a night out, and not going out is the thing that’s made me feel this way. What I need is for you to understand my feelings and arrange a night out tomorrow?”
Rather than a harsh, critical statement, such as; “typical, I knew you would forget and not arrange anything, you’re useless, you make me so angry, you never think of me!”
The other partner needs to listen, without defending, or getting ready to have their say, but to summarise and validate with their response:
“I can appreciate that you’re angry, and I’m sorry that I forgot. I can hear that it’s important to you, and I will book a night out for tomorrow instead”
This can take practice, but the more you try the better you get!
The Effects of S.A.D on Relationships
As summer starts to fade and the nights draw in, many people may find their mood drops, their energy levels decrease slightly, and the shorter days begin to have an impact. S.A.D’s (seasonal affective disorder) can cause low mood or depression during the Autumn/Winter seasons, and currently, the causes are not fully understood. A change in the amount of sunlight, working against your circadian rhythms by forcing yourself to stay alert under false lighting, and drops in serotonin levels, are all possible factors.
Perhaps what is not so recognised, is the impact of S.A.D upon a relationship. When someone is experiencing the effects of this seasonal adjustment, and their way of being is affected, they may find that their relationships will also experience some form of impact.
In a positive relationship where self-awareness is high, the effect of the seasons on the relationship will be recognised and worked with. But imagine a relationship that’s struggling, where neither partner is aware of just how this disorder can influence a mood change within a person, and if their partner changes, someone may see it as a statement on them or their relationship. With one partner withdrawn and down because of the effects of the season, and the other person feeling resentful, the relationship deteriorates into arguments and silences.
Understanding S.A.D is important and becoming more aware of how other outside influences can impact on the relationship. More information can be found on the following link: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/
Other influences due to seasonal change could be:
Changes in working patterns
Worry around finances (as Xmas gets nearer!)
Not being able to engage in outdoor hobbies
Spending more time in the home (and having less personal space)
Changes in eating and fitness habits
The key to not letting these changes have an impact on the relationship is to communicate, to be able to express how you feel without worries of being misunderstood and to have an understanding of how your partner is feeling. You can both try different things to deal with the shift in your relationship, rather than blame the other person for being ‘moody.’
The things you could try:
Go out for a ‘date-night’ to break the routine of winter
Make the most of any sunshine during the weekend and go out for a walk together
Switch off the TV and try something different. A game of scrabble, go and have a game of Badminton together, or for the adventurous, a game of strip poker!
Have at least one night where you plan a meal to include lots of fresh fruit/veg. On dark evenings we often want comfort food which may not include the type of foods we happily eat in the warm summer months.
Spend 10 minutes once a week each having a chance to talk about how you are presently feeling. You need to avoid blaming your partner but describing yourself. This keeps both of you in touch with what’s going on in your partners internal world.
We all think we know what an affair is. This is because we have our own value system, our own set of rules, and therefore, we see the world from our own point of view. It can then be a shock when someone else has a completely different set of rules. This can happen with affairs. For one person, their partner meeting someone for lunch is being unfaithful, for another this is okay as long as they don't take it any further. For another, their partner spending time with someone else is okay as long as they don't have sex. This difference of opinions on what is being unfaithful is very evident with on-line activities. Is it okay to chat to someone on-line, as long as you don't meet them? What about sending pictures, or speaking by text to an ex? Ultimately, the couple need to agree boundaries and what is and what is not okay in the relationship.
This article looks at the minefield of micro-cheating and what this might mean to your relationship.
We all know a good relationship is important! But some amazing research has come out over the last few years showing just how important it is for our well-being. A good relationship improves our health, our resilience and general happiness. This amazing video talks about the results of a 75 year study on this very fact. Worth thinking about, and can you make your relationship even better to improve all your life and health.
The marriage minute is a great way of focusing on your relationship and learning new ways. It only takes a few moments, but the positive learning can last a life time. Link here and get an email twice a week with new ways to improve and enhance your relationship.
The Gottman Institute
The Gottman institute has a number of resources around relationships. See www.gottman.com
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