Tag Archive | Conversation

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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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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It’s a Hormone Thing

It's a Hormone Thing

Generally men are turned on sexually more easily than women. Men are also turned on more easily by sexual stimuli, including fantasy. And in addition nature also causes a build-up of sexual tension in a healthy male which will seek any means of release. This build-up of sexual tension actually begins again immediately after ejaculation. In the younger man this sexual tension can return quickly but with age it usually takes longer for this to happen.

Men not only turn on faster they can also complete the full sexual response sooner. Ejaculation can occur on penetration or even before. Male orgasm, however, is another matter – that takes longer and requires a man to learn to control ejaculation and to want to explore a fuller involvement of his total self.

Women are turned on more by appropriate conversation and touching within a relationship filled with emotional warmth and love. But, just as for a man, this response, and the accompanying sex drive levels, can vary from woman to woman and from time to time.

These different means of building sexual desire can be one reason why, particularly, a woman’s desire might be blocked if she feels distrust of her partner or anger towards him. This however is not isolated to women, men can also be put off if the conditions aren’t right but generally less so than for women.

While on average the male orgasm is not as strong as in the female, it is none-the-less a part of the experience for some men – those who are willing to take the time to allow the sexual tension to build up, and who love being with their partners, will also love the experience of surrendering to those strong sensations of ecstasy. For these men, the driver is their love for their partner and for the quality of their sex rather than the frequency.

Also men are generally not multi-orgasmic as are many women. Women take longer to reach the peak of excitation where for many, orgasm occurs. After orgasm, many women who remain high on the plateau stage can have second or even more orgasmic experiences if they wish.

There are also many women who have great difficulty achieving orgasm and some who never do, and perhaps never will.

For many women orgasm, however, is not what having sex is about. Rather it is about being emotionally and physically connected to another human being in as close a way as possible.

Some of the things that will influence how responsive a woman is to a man’s sexual approach are the physical environment the couple find themselves in. The environment must be conducive to love-making and all of her senses are employed in deciding this – color, temperature, sounds, aromas and the degree of privacy afforded them so she can feel safe in a place without interruption. The tone of the male voice and how he communicates with her and touches her, as already discussed, will also be a mood maker or breaker.

The lesson here is to ensure that you keep talking to each other about what you like and don’t like during sex and not just during the act but in all aspects of your relationship. For all you men reading this, your lesson is this: don’t be in a hurry to have sex. Give your woman time to feel like sex. When I’m working with a couple I generally suggest to the men that they should allow about twelve hours for a woman to work up to sex, so be super nice to her and she’ll reward you generously.

The lesson for you women reading this is: help your man out. Don’t make it a guessing competition about what you need – let him know exactly what you need to ensure that you will “feel like it” when the time is right.

Most of all for both of you: make it fun. Sex is a form of play – you can’t play when you’re upset or stressed. Get rid of all that and enjoy being together in this very special way with your whole heart, body and mind.

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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