Tag Archive | Communication Breakdown

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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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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How to Fight Fair When You Disagree (Part Two)

A New Dance

How to Fight Fair When You Disagree - A New DanceIn my last article I wrote about some ideas I have about fighting fairly. Here are some more ideas for you.

One of my most important rules for fair fighting contains a strong resistance, even though it doesn’t always work, to defend myself, or to shut down completely.

I do this by taking whatever time I need to really, really understand as best I can what the other person is trying to say to me. Sometimes I have to put my own response aside for a moment and question the other person in the disagreement to ensure I really am as clear as I can be about what they are saying.

I also think about what it is I want or need from them and may even put this down on paper to clarify it for myself first in an attempt to prepare myself better for the conversation.

Finally I ask the other person if they are willing to take the time needed to hear me out as well before responding to what they think they are hearing.

I also strive to take full responsibility for my feelings and so try not to blame others for what is happening for me. I always try to keep in mind that it takes ‘two to tango’, so when considering how to communicate to the other what’s going on for me I try to use “I” statements rather than “You” statements”.

To put it simply, the difference between these two kinds of statements is this; “I” statements start with an “I” and “You” statements start with a “You”.

Consequently, if someone is constantly late, the message I want to get across to them is this; “I feel angry and annoyed when you are regularly late and you haven’t called me”. This is much better than saying, “You’re always late. You make me so angry!” One is about accepting my responsibility for my feelings and the other is about blaming another for what I’m feeling. And here’s another ‘NO-NO’- Be careful of using broad generalizations like:  ‘always’ or ‘never’. Be truthful about what is actually happening.

I also make a point when I am in conflict to attempt to be objective in hearing all sides of the argument. If I can hear all sides then I am more likely to be able to work with the other person to a better outcome.

And of course, humor, used appropriately, can be helpful too. Try and take a playful attitude towards developing the skill of emotional self-control in high conflict situations. If you are able to do this then it is more likely that the other person will relax and consequently get both of you to a better ending.

If you use all of these skills, conflict will not be as difficult to manage as it first might appear, and you might get to an even more satisfactory resolution, one that leads you both to a win/win outcome, rather than a win/lose or both lose.

Of course this is not always achievable, but if you both understand the importance of finding a good resolution to your conflicts then you can expect that your partner will help you here by being considerate of your feelings and thoughts and help you to explore them as you speak about what is bothering you.

This then opens up the possibility of finding a whole ‘new dance’, and a better way to resolve conflicts that steers you away from your old ways of doing it, laying the path for a more successful outcome, knowing that you can meet your needs in a more appropriate way.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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10 Secrets to Achieving Marital Harmony

10 Secrets to Achieving Marital Harmony

Marital harmony can be achieved in a variety of ways. Sometimes it is the little things that maintain the peace in a relationship and sometimes it is more monumental decisions that can either harm or help the harmony in the household. While agreement is not always possible, it is important for the couple to realize that even during arguments it’s possible to maintain harmony. As long as you understand that disagreements are only temporary the harmony in your marriage will remain throughout all types of trials and tribulations.

  • Being aware of your partner’s likes and dislikes is one way to achieve marital harmony. This awareness allows you to operate in a way that keeps your partner’s preferences in mind. If you know what your partner likes and doesn’t like you can take precautions to not engage in an activity that will hurt your partner. Additionally, your partner will respect your consideration of their feelings. This consideration is necessary for those who wish to achieve marital harmony.
  • Sharing in the decision-making process is also critical to achieving marital harmony. This is important for a couple of reasons. First it gives the couple the opportunity to work together to make a decision and second it helps to make them both feel involved in the process. Also, if one person takes the responsibility of making decisions without consulting their partner it can lead to resentment especially if the decision turns out to be a bad one.
  • Another secret to achieving marital harmony is to work to balance your career and home life. It is easy to get caught up in your job responsibilities and to begin to allow your job to take precedence in your relationship but working hard to ensure this doesn’t happen will be beneficial to your marriage. It’s important to realize that no job is more important than your relationship. There may be times that you need to work late or on weekends but try to keep these instances to a minimum. Also, strive to not bring home your work, either physically or mentally, and allow it to encroach on your marriage. It’s acceptable to share information about your day and vent about any problems you may have had for a little while but going on and on about your job will cause problems in your marriage.
  • Any marriage is bound to have its problems and disagreements but it’s important to not let that problem linger. When disagreements arise, try working out an amicable agreement but when this is not possible sometimes you just have to agree to disagree and move on with your marriage. Remember that each morning is a new day and strive to wake up having forgotten any arguments you may have had with your spouse on the previous day. If you made your best effort to resolve the problem and were unable to reach a resolution, just let it go and start the new day out harmoniously.
  • Agreeing on financial matters is also key to achieving marital harmony. Money is one of the issues that creates the most arguments in a marriage. If both partners are aware of their current financial situation and are willing to work together to establish a budget and stick to it, you will avoid discontent related to financial matters in the marriage.
  • Perhaps an important secret to achieving marital harmony that is often overlooked is knowing your partner very well and discussing major issues before getting married. For example if you have always wanted children, it’s best to find out your partners view on children before getting married. Differences of opinion in an area such as this can doom a marriage. However, if you make sure you marry someone who agrees with you about these critical issues you will avoid having problems arise later in the marriage as these subjects come up.
  • Keeping politics and other sensitive issues out of your marriage is also important to maintaining harmony. It’s acceptable to have opposing viewpoints on issues and debate your beliefs but allowing these issues to create a major rift it your marriage is not acceptable. Two people can exist harmoniously in a marriage while holding opposing viewpoints as long as they respect each other’s opinions.
  • Allowing each other some time to be alone can also help you achieve marital harmony. It’s important to spend time together and share interests but sometimes too much time together can be stifling. It is important for each partner to have interests or hobbies that they participate in without their spouse. This time away from each other helps to maintain harmony by giving each partner a sense of individuality.
  • Being respectful of your spouse is also very important to achieving marital harmony. Couples that treat themselves and each other with respect are able to maintain a sense of civility and accord even during disagreements. This feeling of respect will help the couple to remain harmonious even in the most trying situations.
  • One last secret to achieving marital harmony is to share household chores. A couple that divides up the responsibilities in the household and strives to help each other out whenever possible will have an easy time maintaining harmony. Failure to do this, however, can be very damaging to a relationship. If you have to go as far as drawing up a list of chores and who is responsible for them, go ahead and do that. A written document illustrating who does what around the house will make it clear if one person is overburdened.

It is important to not confuse harmony with agreement. Couples do not have to agree on every issue in order to have a sense of marital harmony. There are many factors that contribute to whether or not a marriage is harmonious. Some factors may be bigger than others, but they are all equally important in achieving marital harmony.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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When Partners Are Constantly Yelling At Each Other

When Partners Are Constantly Yelling At Each Other

So often I hear from couples that they get to a place in their relationship where they are just constantly yelling at each other. And not only do they complain of having constant yelling matches but also that the arguments are as often as not about nothing so that afterwards they are left wondering what was the point of it all anyway.

It may surprise you to know that there is actually a point and if you think that that is actually nothing to do with the topic of the argument you would be right.

The point is this. As you come through the honeymoon phase of your relationship there is a need to re-establish your own identity separate from each other. All this time you have been entangled with each other in a dance only for two. You now need to pull away from each other again in order to get on with your own lives.

This is totally normal and as it should be. You need to re-immerse yourself in your work, in your friendships and in your own interests to ensure that you continue your personal journey as you carry on with your couple’s journey.

To allow this you subconsciously start to find the flaws in each other. This includes the discovery that each of you are human after all with all of the faults and failings that comes with being human.

For so long you have simply only seen each other through rose-coloured glasses. This is now the time to take off the glasses and notice that your partner is not all you’ve attempted to convince yourself they are.

You struggle with this idea. Your prince or princess is really human after all just like you.

The only way you can humanly separate from another person is to create conflict. Just like an adolescent separating from his or her parents has to create conflict so too you do. Otherwise why would you move away from each other at all?

The tricky bit in all of this is firstly to recognise that the fights are for a good reason even if there seems to be no reason at all. Then, and maybe even more importantly, it is going to be critical for each of you to embrace the opportunity that you are providing each other here for growth ensuring in the meanwhile you don’t lose sight of your relationship in the process,

Something to note here is that there are people who are addicted to love. These people are likely to use these fights as a way of leaving the relationship and to seek another to replace it. Some people go their whole lives flitting from one relationship to another. They may even believe that the relationship is over so can’t even contemplate that maybe it’s just a phase.

Then there are others who just believe that they will never actually find love at all and give up even trying to find the way out of the current dilemma.

So if you find yourself yelling and arguing with your partner, pause a moment before making a decision about whether to quit or not. If the arguments really don’t have much substance, other than it being a tug of war to prove that you are right, maybe there is something else going on here.

If this happens take the time to really look deeply within yourself to check whether this is really just a phase and it’s worth the effort to work through or is this truly a sign that you are simply not compatible and maybe should separate from each other before too much damage is done.

If you can’t see the difference clearly seek some professional help before making a decision you may come to regret.

One strategy to really test this out is to commit to going all out for at least thirty days giving 100% of your effort to this relationship without question or regret. Love your partner unreservedly with all the love you have. This might even mean stepping back to allow that person some space to grow in as you take space for your own growth.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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Seven Rules for Effective Problem Solving

Seven Rules for Effective Problem Solving

 

I’m often asked why when a couple starts a conversation about something that is really important to them it often just ends in another fight.

Improving your skills in this area will help your relationship mature in a healthy way keeping it strong and happy.

For a couple to reach decisions without unnecessary battles needs skill.

Here are 7 rules for couple problem solving that may be helpful for you to keep in mind for when you are trying to solve a problem that has come up between you and your partner:

 

  • 1
    Remind yourselves about why you are there. Take breaks as needed throughout the conversation as needed to keep your energy positive.
  • 2
    Focus on only one issue at a time. Agree on what the problem or issue is, so you are not trying to solve multiple problems at once or work at cross-purposes by trying to address different issues.
  • 3
    Avoid being attached to a particular outcome. Avoid stating something as absolute fact. There is really only a perspective: yours and the others.
  • 4
    Encourage and freely share thoughts, feelings, and opinions with love, respect, and kindness. Avoid criticism or domination of each other. Strive to be open to all expressions without taking offense.
  • 5
    Carefully monitor and modify your attitude and tone of voice. If underneath your words is criticism, disrespect, or sarcasm, your spouse will hear them, even when your words are positive.
  • 6
    Listen to each other carefully and without interruption and request clarification as needed.
  • 7
    Strive for shared agreement, even when it takes longer. At times you might need to agree to disagree or even to deferring to the other’s solution. Regardless still look at and carry out the decision as a jointly agreed. But do not defer just for the sake of getting consensus. It may be better to take a break and come back to it again.

 

And just as importantly review significant decisions after some time trying them out to assess whether they are working or whether you need to start the process over again. Stay aware for when you need to involve someone else, like a counsellor or mediator, in a discussion or decision to ensure the greatest success.

Decisions work best when you have equal voices in couple discussions. It is important for you both to express what is on your minds and in your hearts freely. Either withholding your opinion or dominating the other in the conversation may negatively affect the outcome.

If one of you tends to be more dominant in speaking, you will need to be even more attentive to give the other an opportunity to have their say. The quieter of you may also need to practice assertiveness. Free expression happens when you are both willing to listen to each other without interruption giving whatever time is necessary to ensure that both of you fully understand what the other is saying before saying what you want to say.

It is important to ensure the genuineness of your motives and intentions in any discussion. If either of you has a hidden agenda—an unspoken intention or goal, or you just want to manipulate the other, any decision you come up with will most likely not work.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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True Love, Lies and Deceit

True Love Lies and Deceit

Is it possible for someone to truly love you and hurt you over and over with lies and deceit?

What a great question this is to get me going for the week

The short answer is this:  NO! Someone cannot truly love you and hurt you over and over with lies and deceit. But it may be a little more complicated than that.

Lying and deceitfulness can be a natural response to being constantly tormented, fear of being found out, or from the modelling we get from the most important people around us, generally our parents.

There are also gradients of lies. There are the lies of omission when we don’t tell someone that what they are wearing doesn’t go with whatever, their body shape, the occasion etc.

On the other end of the continuum are the really big lies that have a huge impact on people’s lives, individuals or whole countries, which can and do change the course of history.

My curiosity is pricked when I hear that someone is being deceitful in their relationship. Is this a cold-hearted act of cruelty with no regard for the impact the lie has on another or is it something much more than that?

My belief is that lying is a complex issue that really needs to be viewed not just in the context of the current event but in the context of a whole lifetime of experience.

When we are very young we learn to tell lies as part of socialising us to the norms of society. So we are taught to hold our tongues when we get crushed under the hug of our big, fat aunties and respectfully say ‘thank you’ for the gift that we really didn’t want. We also learn in the process that lying can protect us from being punished, sometimes in very, even too harsh ways. Lying can even become habitual as a way of avoiding the anger of someone in a position of authority over us as well as a means of avoiding the feelings of fear that can go with that.

As an adult we normally grow out of this behaviour as we meet with other adults face to face, in truth and in good will, to manage our conflicts in an adult way no longer needing to resort to old patterns of behaviour. Sometimes however old behaviours are so entrenched that the habit has become hard to shift. Alternatively the person is triggered to feel the same sort of fear they experienced as a child and respond from an internal child part of themselves rather than an external adult part.

In these situations the lies and deceit are not intended to hurt but become the habitual response of someone who doesn’t yet have the skills to manage themselves in a more mature way.

So to come back to the question at the beginning of this article

Love is a mature adult feeling that is pure and clean with no unresolved issues attached to it. So to truly love another implies that you are fully there with this person in the most vulnerable way possible. This means that your heart, soul and body are open and exposed without any defences. So to put it more simply, love and lying simply cannot be present in the same moment.

While we are humans, and we will slip up, for us to be truly in love with another requires us also to be truly honest. If we cannot be truly honest then we can’t possibly truly love because instead of being there fully in the present we are being held back by something from our past that will need resolution.

So if you are being lied to and hurt constantly by your partner and they are unable, or unwilling, to do what it takes to change then you really do need to think about the long-term viability of your relationship.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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