Can You Totally Trust Your Partner?

Morning After Christmas Party

I often receive emails on the topic of trust so I think this might be a good time to talk about it. This is especially so as the Christmas season is upon us and for so many organisations this is also the time of the office Christmas party with potentially lots of alcohol and sometimes a little too much “merry”.

Trust, as defined in the dictionary, is the reliance of one person on another for honesty and sincerity in their relationship. Everything is open for discussion and, as a committed couple there is an expectation that as no subject is taboo then also there is an expectation that both of the couple will say what the truth is for them even when this might be hard to say.

So when we feel we cannot trust our partner, is that saying more about us or is it saying more about them?

My hunch is that maybe it says something about both of you.

Our distrust of another may well be about our own insecurities. While we might say we expect truthfulness from another we actually might find it difficult to be truthful ourselves and consequently not really believe that it is possible to get that from the other.

Alternatively it might be that if I have grown up with dishonesty, either between my parents or from my parents to me, then it is also more likely that I will be unsure about the ability of someone else to be totally truthful in their conversations with me.

The alternative of course is that your partner has already done something which was less than honest leaving you suspicious of their every word and action. If your relationship has come to this then you are in serious danger of losing your relationship unless you do something about it and quickly.

Where these two possibilities might intersect is at the place where, if you already have a distrust of your mate, then they actually might act upon it as they feel that they’re dammed if they do and dammed if they don’t.

What can you do about it?

If you feel that the issue is more about you then go and speak with a professional about it. You might benefit from doing some personal psychotherapy. In this case the therapist may explore some of your early life history to discover the past experience of your distrust.

The process would be similar if you are the one struggling to stay honest. The reason for this might also be discovered in exploring your past.

Once you know where it came from you can then do something about it.

If on the other hand you are married to someone who has behaved in such a way that no longer deserves your trust then you need to talk about it as quickly as possible either with your spouse or with a Couple’s Counsellor.

The Couple’s Counsellor will help both of you in articulating what your concerns are about hearing or telling the truth assisting you to communicate this to each other. This is because it is only in the truth that you will find true happiness and a promise that your relationship really can make it to become a long-term committed relationship.

If you don’t have access to a Counsellor try this exercise:

Make a time with each other to sit and talk. Choose one of you to have the entire stage first. You are “The Speaker”. That means that for whatever time you have chosen you get to speak without interruption other than for the other person clarifying what you are saying or to ask questions to help both of you get as clear a picture as possible about what it is “The Speaker” has chosen to speak about.

The other of you is “The Listener”. Your job is simply to listen. This must be without judgement or response in defence of yourself. That means that the other person can say whatever they want while you remind yourself that this is only their opinion even if you don’t agree with it.

And whatever you do, and whatever it is they say, just keep listening. And when I say listen I mean really listen: with your head, hour heart and your spirit as you just might be surprised at what there is to learn.

Try it one way and then next time you come together it will be the listeners turn to become “The Speaker” and the speakers turn to become “The Listener”.

This is what a real conversation is. As we speak and listen we will come to hear the truth and maybe even rediscover the trust that might have been lost making it once again the glue for a truly healthy, loving relationship.

Remember you were designed with two ears and one mouth for a reason!

So until next time – Relate with Love

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The Five Secrets to Fair Fighting and Getting What You Want

The Five Secrets to Fair Fighting and Getting What You WantIn any relationship worth having conflicts and fights are bound to arise.  The true test of the relationship is whether or not you feel that it is worthwhile to resolve these conflicts and if you are able to do so in a fair and objective way.

The five secrets to fighting fairly include sticking to the issue at hand, being open to listening to the other person, not involving others in the fight, not bringing up old issues and finally being willing to accept responsibility for your part in the issue and being able to let it go when the fight is over even if no resolution has been immediately found.

It’s important to know what you are fighting over and to stick to that issue in the argument.  If you allow things to build up over time and then explode neither you nor your partner will have a clear understanding of what the issue is or why you are fighting.

If there are many issues it is important to address each of them separately as they arise to alleviate resentment and fighting that does not have a clear focus.

Sometimes all you need to do is just listen

Listening is also a very important component of fighting fairly.  It is imperative to allow your partner to offer his side of the argument.  Fighting without listening will not be effective because it does not allow you to be open to the other person’s opinions and beliefs.

Your partner may have a very valid reason for their actions, thoughts and feelings but if you are only interested in what you have to say and are unwilling to listen you will not understand their point of view.

Another aspect of listening is to really try to understand what the other person is saying.  It’s very easy to not hear the intent of a person’s message.  In a fight you want to actively clarify your partner’s statements and give them the opportunity to affirm or deny your interpretation of their argument.

Bringing others into a fight, other than your counsellor, is also not a fair way to fight.  It is important that the fight take place between those directly involved and that neither party elicits the help of friends or family members to validate their position.

It doesn’t matter how many other people agree with you, that does not necessarily make you right, so don’t involve others in your fight.  This is not only unfair to your partner but it is also unfair to those who are dragged into the argument.

In a fair fight it is also important to not bring up old issues.  A fair fight will remain focused only on the issue at hand and bringing up the past will only distract and send the message that the past has not been forgotten.  If your partner feels that you are bringing up old issues, he may feel as if the current fight is not worth fighting because it will not be forgotten.

And if you convey the message that you are not willing to forgive and forget there is also the possibility that your partner will withdraw with a belief that there is no point in resolving this issue anyway.  Also, bringing up old issues is simply not relevant to the current fight.  A fair fight must simply be focused on a current conflict only.

Another secret for fighting fairly is to be willing to accept responsibility for your own actions and be willing to reach a resolution so you can both move on from the argument.  Those who fight fairly are prepared to concede the fact that they may even lose the argument.  Losing the argument means either that you admit that you were to blame for a situation or that you have come to understand and accept the others perspective.

Leave the fight in the past

What is most important in a fair fight is not who is right or who is wrong but that you are able to reach an amicable agreement and that you are both able to progress and leave the fight in the past.

Fighting fairly is crucial in a healthy relationship.  Disagreements are natural and resolving them in a fair way is imperative to a thriving relationship.  Not fighting fairly is indicative of a relationship that is not healthy.  A fair fight incorporates the key elements of focus, listening and resolution without involving third parties in the fight.  A fair fight is also left in the past after resolution.  Fair fighting leads to some kind of resolution even if that means you may have to agree to disagree.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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The Three Most Critical Languages of Love

The Three Most Critical Languages of Love

We’ve all heard that communication happens via one or more of three ways:

Visual – this refers to what we see and how we present ourselves

Auditory – this refers to what we hear and say

Kinaesthetic – this refers to what we feel and/or do

The impact of the communication will vary depending on each of our own filters ie our past experiences and/or understanding that will vary the way I see, hear or feel something compared to how you see, hear or feel it.

For example, we might be planning to go for a walk and you suddenly come down with a headache. Depending on my previous experience with you, and with other people in my life, my interpretation of that might be that the headache is actually genuine or that maybe the headache is just your way of getting out of it.

The way we experience love is via exactly the same channels:

Visual – what I see in my relationship with you

Auditory – what I hear you say in my conversations with you

Kinaesthetic – what I feel when you touch me or when you do things for me

And just as a piece of communication may be changed, depending on our previous life experience, so too will the perception of the other in the relationship.

To take this one step further; depending on how I experienced, or didn’t experience, love as I was growing up will actually be even more important to how I experience you as you are, what you say or what you do.

My experience of the present therefore is really less about you and actually more about how I was treated in the past and the decisions I made about myself and others as a consequence.

What I missed out as a child is what I crave most now.

Let me take this idea even further. We all know that there are two factors involved in creating who I am as a person. One pertains to “nature”; some quality that is already present at my birth and may in part be genetically inherited. The other pertains to “nurture”; the quality of the physical environment in which I was raised including how my parents and others cared for me. And while the debate still continues about which is most critical my belief is that both are equally so.

So what does all this have to do with Love?

My point here is that if my physical needs were taken care of as a child then it’s fairly likely that that will not be the love language I seek. On the contrary if I was not told, or did not hear, often enough that I was valued and loved and wanted as a child then it is likely that this will still be what I crave most and will be the love language I seek and respond most to.

And if this is the case for me then I might presume that this is how it is for everyone.

But guess what? It’s not. So just because my language of love is for example, to hear words of endearment, my partner may have a whole different love language, for example, his might be to have things done for him, such as the preparation of a nice meal, as he did not receive that as a child.

Additionally I might have several love languages so I might be regarded as bi-lingual or even multi-lingual.

Let’s complicate this a little further.

Now just because I missed out on certain things as a child and these have become my love language as an adult it doesn’t mean that I will accept offers of love in these ways.

Going too far? Ok I’ll save that for another article.

So to come back to the topic; the crux of all of this is for each of us to learn what is our preferred language of love and to ask for what I need in a clear and direct way. Equally it is important for me not to assume that I know what my partners love language is but to ask and, in love, offer that to him or her.

Here are the six possible summary statements of your preferred love language:

  1. What you do affects me more than what you say.
  2. What you do affects me more than how you touch me.
  3. What you say affects me more than what you do.
  4. What you say affects me more than how you touch me.
  5. How you touch me affects me more than what you say.
  6. How you touch me affects me more than what you do.

To find out what your preferred love language is head on over to my site and take the quiz. You’ll find it under the heading of “Quiz’s and Questionnaires”.

Take the quiz with your partner. You may be surprised at what you discover about each other.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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Is This Really The End?

Is This Really The End?

Reflecting back to a previous article I posed three questions for you to answer to help you decide whether it really is time to say goodbye. Here they are again for a reminder.

  1. Do you feel that you still love your partner and do you feel that your partner still loves you?
  2. If you had your time again would you still go into this relationship?
  3. If you could leave your partner right now without there being any cost, trouble or ramifications of any kind would you?

If in answering these questions you come to the conclusion that this really is the end then you now have some challenging times ahead of you. This topic will be covered in greater detail in another of my upcoming books but for now let me just say this; while there will be lots of things to take care of legally to separate yourselves from each other financially there will also be lots of things to take care of to separate yourselves socially and emotionally as well.

Of course the biggest hurdle of all will be managing how you are going to continue to be parents to your children. This is sometimes overlooked in the emotion of the day.

While you contemplate finally removing the person that was your partner from your life, you can forget that while there are children to be taken care of the likelihood that you will need to continue to find a way to communicate with each other is more likely than not and may only happen in the event that one of you decides to divorce yourself from your children as well.

It might sound like a contradiction in terms, but separation doesn’t have to be the end of the world if you do it with grace and dignity and respect, even if it feels that there is no love left.

Many couples I work with know that their relationship is over but have still come into counselling to find some understanding and/or some peace and forgiveness of themselves as well as of each other so that they can move on from this.

A Healing Separation

A Program I work with with couples contemplating separation is called “A Healing Separation”. The essence of it is for each of the couple to take some time to figure out what they need to learn from the situation to ensure that they don’t end up in the same place again.

This generally includes counselling each of the couple separately as well as together. And it doesn’t matter if they have kids or not. As the name of the program implies it is about healing and finding forgiveness as it is only through forgiveness that you can truly move on. Maybe this can even be to enter into another relationship that is much more fulfilling than the one you left.

So if you are struggling with a separation maybe you could benefit from some counselling. Alternatively you will find an exercise to help you with this on my website under quizzes and questionnaires titled: “The Unfinished Business Letter”. Try it out it’s free.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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When It Is Time to Say Goodbye (Part Two)

In the article “When It’s Time to Say Goodbye (part One)” I addressed three important questions for you to ask yourself before making a decision to end a relationship. If you haven’t read that article yet go to my page and find it. The questions are worth taking a closer look at if you are thinking in any way that it might be time for you to say goodbye to your relationship.

I know that dealing with these issues is about as much fun as getting root canal work done, but by doing it, you have taken an important step in getting this relationship out of the ditch that you might be seeing yourself in right now.

By getting truthful about your relationship you may have identified some dangerous and powerfully destructive forces in your life that you must deal with immediately if your relationship is to survive.

So the really big question here is: are you in this relationship because you really want to be, or are you here because you just don’t know how to get out of it?

And if you are spending your life with someone because it’s just easier not to get out of it, this is just not a healthy option and if you feel this way, then you’ve got some work to do.

Nevertheless, by asking these three really important questions, you’re recognizing, and acknowledging, how you feel and this is the beginning of the journey towards finding a resolution. This is a much better place to be in than in denial of the truth.

On the other hand, if you have come to the end of these questions and you are thinking, ‘my relationship is far worse than I thought’, I am going to ask you to pause for just a moment. There have been many, many relationships that have been on the brink of disaster, that have found their way back, and I see them in my counselling room everyday.

If you are here maybe the first thing you should do is seek some professional help to determine whether it really is time to quit or to reassess what you are doing that may be aggravating the situation. Sometimes doing some personal work with a Counselor can put you in a better place within yourself without doing much at all to the relationship. As I often say to my clients; sometimes by changing one half of the equation, in this case you, the other half of the equation has to change as well.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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When It’s Time to Say Goodbye (Part One)

When It’s Time to Say Goodbye (Part One)In all relationships there is a time when you will come to ask some questions about whether it’s time to end it or not. The hardest question of all to answer is how can you know for sure when your relationship is just not working and it may be time to get out?

To help those of you, who think you might be at that point right now, here are some questions to ask yourself that might make it a little easier for you.

There are three really difficult questions that you can use as a guide to see how close you are to that point of no return. And, while you contemplate the answers to these questions you also need to remind yourself of what the truth of the situation really is. That is answer the questions from an objective place, as if you were an observer, as opposed to answering them from a subjective place, that is from your own perspective with your own prejudices and judgments.

Also as you answer these questions keep in mind the definitions I spoke about in an earlier article/blog of the five keys to an enduring relationship concerning our basic needs. If you remember, they were recognition of our emotional, physical, spiritual, social and security needs.

The answers must be based on your partner’s recognition of your needs in those areas, as well as your recognition of his or her needs in those areas, and the rights of both of you to have your needs met.

So here are the questions. Take your time to answer them.

1. Do you feel that you still love your partner and do you feel that your partner still loves you?

2. If you had your time again would you still go into this relationship?

3. If you could leave your partner right now without there being any cost, trouble or ramifications of any kind would you?

A word of warning – just be very careful here because when you are feeling unhappy about your personal life, you can also get caught up in the negative aspects of your relationship and forget about all the good things or the good times you might have once had. You can even begin to think that it is your relationship that is at fault when the truth is it is more about you as an individual rather than you as a couple.

So before you do anything else take a moment right now to think about these questions. Maybe you could even write down any thoughts you have as you contemplate these issues. Then take some time to project yourself one, two or five years into the future and be really honest with yourself as you take a look to see clearly what is there for you in your relationship.

Look out for part two in these series of article/blog entries to learn what to do with the results of this questionnaire. If you can’t wait till my next entry you can subscribe to my mailing list. Then you will receive the free e-book that this questionnaire comes from. It’s titled “Relationships – A Couple’s Journey”.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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How to Get the Most from Your Relationship

AAA Relationship

 

The secret behind all successful relationships, the one that will take you to an even deeper connection with your partner, revolves around three key words all of which start with ‘A’. They are Accountable, Authentic and Affectionate.

Accountability

‘Accountability’ involves taking absolute responsibility for your power to bring joy and happiness into your relationship. Consequently it also means having the power to learn from your mistakes. Instead of blaming or defending this means being willing to find forgiveness and start over when these mistakes are made. ‘Accountability’ also involves a willingness to make an effort by learning and practicing effective communication and negotiating skills and by becoming an informed and creative sexual partner.

Authenticity

‘Authenticity’ involves continuing to be open to discovering who you really are and being willing to continue to promote yourself and your self-esteem. This will continue to happen by being totally honest at all times with yourself and your partner and by being open to that person’s responses to you as they might be constructive for you. ‘Authenticity’ is also about communicating in an assertive way, not in an aggressive or in a non-assertive way. This means having the courage to speak up when needed and knowing when it is time to be quiet.

Affection

Lastly ‘Affection’ involves creating ways to have fun and relax together both sexually and socially. ‘Affection’ also involves being aware of sharing the real you in moments of intimacy whether that is in deep one-on-one conversations or in just spending time close to each other in an unhurried quiet way. Finally, ‘Affection’ is about encouraging and praising and caring for your partner in a way that builds their self-esteem while cheering them on to reach all of their potential, as you strive to reach yours, both as individuals as well as a couple.

Happily Ever After

This then brings us down to what is the best thing about being part of a couple. It is in being truly close to another human being that we create the very real possibility of being more than we ever imagined we could be.

On our own we can achieve incredible things but by being part of a loving couple we can create miracles. This is where 1+1 becomes 11, not just 2. It is where the whole becomes really much greater than just the sum of the parts.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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