Tag Archive | communication skills

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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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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How to Fight Fair When You Disagree (Part One)

A Fair Fight

Many books and articles have been written on the topic of how to get through these really difficult times in your relationship and about how to ‘fight’ our way through them in a fair way. This means that the outcome will only be found in consideration of our own contribution to the conflict as well as to the others.

The one thing that’s common to all of the approaches is that when something is not working for you in your relationship, it needs to be brought out into the open, and discussed. In this way, rather than getting caught up in some old ‘out-of-date’ way of attempting to get your needs met you may come up with something more helpful that might result in actually getting your needs met in an appropriate way.

The Rules for Fair Fighting

Hence my rules for fighting fair are firstly; when I feel stressed, I take whatever time I need to compose myself while attempting to find the most effective way to share what I need to say with the person I’m in conflict with. The thing is you can’t fight fair when you are full of emotion whether it is anger, sadness or disappointment.

I use all of the interpersonal skills that I have learned, taking time to listen to the other’s point of view with as open a mind as I can and using phrases, as is fitting, like “I hear you”, and “I get what you are saying”, without negating that with a “but” but rather expanding on it with an “and”.

One word I really try to avoid using, despite Charlie Harper’s partial success in “Two and a Half Men”, is “I understand”. The truth is I can never really understand another’s perspective. In actual fact the best I can do is hear it and acknowledge their experience of whatever is going on as their truth even if it doesn’t fit with mine.

So a typical response then might sound more like this: “I hear what you’re saying about what you think is happening and I think …(put in here your own view)… might be happening too!” This is a much softer way of adding your thoughts on a topic that doesn’t leave the other feeling like they’ve been backed into a corner. They can feel that they’ve been heard so are more likely then to hear clearly what you are trying to say.

Try out these strategies over the next little while and come back to discover some more of the strategies I use in my next article.

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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Relationships – The Five Keys to Making Yours Super Successful

Relationships – The Five Keys to Making Yours Super Successful

Relationships – The Five Keys to Making Yours Super Successful

Once upon a time there was a young girl who, full of dreams and wide-eyed, left her home town by the coast and followed her knight in shining armor to the city. Their wedding was a spectacular affair, befitting a princess and her prince and they came to live in a castle overlooking the sea.

Years passed, and it seemed that they had everything they could want, a lavish lifestyle, with all the trappings of a young family of standing in their community, and four beautiful children to share it with.

But fourteen years later, the young girl, now grown and much wiser, looked for more from her relationship than it seemed her husband was able to give her. So she ended the relationship and created a life as a single mum raising her children on her own until, with a very new understanding of relationships, she did meet her true knight in shining armor, a relationship that has now been enduring for twenty years and from which this woman, now much older, has drawn so much that she passes her learnings on happily to all those who come into her life.

She no longer sees herself as a princess but as a woman, and now a real woman.” And as all good fairy tales should end: She lived happily ever after.

This is actually my story, but it could be anyone’s. And what I have learned, that I now understand to be the keys to a successful relationship, is not so extraordinary that they are unachievable.

In fact, these keys are common to every one of us. If, in your relationships, these keys can be satisfied, then you will be truly able to live the ‘fairytale’, that so many only ever dream of, and get to ‘happily ever after’.

All of these keys refer to a need within us. If the needs are met then the door will be opened to a truly enduring relationship.

So here are the five basic needs:

  • Emotional needs
    Emotional needs include things like the need to feel, and to be told that you are loved and cherished just for whom you are … that you are a priority in someone’s life and that you are accepted flaws and all.
  • Physical needs
    Physical needs comprise the need to be touched and to be able to touch another. It also includes being, hugged, kissed and feeling loved and to have a rewarding sexual connection with another.
  • Spiritual needs
    Spiritual needs consist of the belief that your spiritual journey is supported by your partner, or by someone else significant to you, without judgment as well as a need to know, and feel, that your individual beliefs and differences are respected, if not shared.
  • Social needs
    Social needs have to do with all of the things that bring other people into your lives together with a shared enjoyment of that.
  • Security needs
    Security needs is about knowing that someone and maybe especially your partner will always be there for you, in good times as well as in times of distress, and that person will always be a “soft place” on which to fall when you need someone the most.

If we recognize these needs in ourselves, as well as in others, and accept our right to have these needs fulfilled, then we can all have the opportunity of creating and having a truly magical relationship.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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