What to do when your partner is going through a very strong and intense experience? Maybe the intensity comes out in big, strong ways as they are not able to self-regulate in that moment. Maybe they are paralysed by the situation and it is clearly there and it is obvious they are not letting it out.
I'm a huge advocate for high quality listening. Most of our family and couple challenges can be solved when we choose to really listen to each other and discover what is going at a deeper level. Empathy, though, should never be an enabler of abuse from anyone. We also need to speak up to set limits.
Often I make it hard for others to hear me. 40 words or less is a reminder to keep to the essential points and, where I have a lot to say, to chunk it into easily digestible pieces. It is my responsibility to make it as easy as possible to hear me. After all, if I express myself I want to be heard.
Each relationship has to face some tough conversations from time to time. These could be big decisions where you don’t see eye to eye with each other. They could be some unhealthy dynamics in the relationship that needs to be sorted out. Or a bad choice that one of you has made that has to be faced.
When I tell my partner ‘I love you,’ it might mean ‘I feel some sensations or emotions right now that I’m labelling as love’. It's such a broad label used to convey a vast range of different feelings that it communicates nothing. 'I love you', could mean ‘I like you’ or ‘I am consumed with passion'?
There are things I react to more strongly than others – my ‘hot buttons’. Don’t laugh, but examples that trigger my irritation are Mona putting the mugs in the wrong place in the cupboard or telling me where to park the car. Looking at these with distance, I admit they are possibly an over-reaction.
There is a common belief that successful relationships require compromise which means both parties gain something and give up something. It's an exchange of individual gain and cost so that the outcome is fair and balanced. We don’t need to try too hard to solve the problem. I know we can do better.
Conflict represents a chance to learn more about each other and to combine two different perspectives to build a better answer. There is an IF though and it is big one. The advantages of conflict can only be experienced IF you have some skill to handle the conflict in a productive and connected way.
In terms of communication in relationships and helping my children learn emotional health, I consider it important for me to understand my emotions and learn how to express them in a way that builds connection and trust. I want to state them clearly without supressing or acting out from my emotions.
All relationships need positive energy to thrive. This energy can come from a variety of places and one that is always available is that provided by gratitude and appreciation. In our couple relationship we focused on this for the last couple of years and it has made a huge difference on many levels.