Just because you have had a baby, doesn’t mean that the universe will give you a break and put a hold on all of the external stresses that happen as a part of everyday life! In fact, all of the same challenges are still there once you become parents, but once you have a baby, your conversations with one another can tend to become 100% baby focused – and all other issues take a back seat.
So, when stressful situations that happen outside the home are continually not acknowledged or discussed, they can cause a build-up of anxiety, anger and withdrawal amongst couples – even though the situations did not originally involve them AS a couple, the fallout of not talking about them certainly can BECOME a relationship issue!
Most people would agree that heartbreak is the worst kind pain to experience. There is no easy medical intervention that will help. That dull, chronic pain feels like it is with you everywhere you go, and it can hit you like a kick in the guts at seemingly random moments when you are least expecting it. It is often at the core of your thoughts, and typically haunts you right before you go to sleep and the moment you wake up.
The problem is that most people don’t process their emotional pain.
I can’t tell you how many times we get asked for advice about how to make your relationship a success. Questions like: “If you could only identify one thing that makes relationships work, what would that be?” Of course, this is a trap, as there is simply not one strategy alone to make a relationship successful. Relationships need to work on multiple levels simultaneously. Couples need to continuously work on their friendship system building a strong sense of really being known by each other, being there for each other in small and significant times. Couples need to manage conflict with a sense of curiosity, that conflict is an opportunity to learn about each other. Conflict that is done with gentleness and respect is critical to a successful relationship. Relationships need to have meaningful rituals of connection and a mission for the future where dreams and goals are understood, shared and supported. However, if I was pushed to answer the question above, I would probably say that a critical aspect of relationship success is to know, understand and honour your partners dreams. To be in sync with your partners life long journey and to support their dreams and aspirations, journeying through life, sharing and supporting each other’s dreams is a wonderful gift.
Conflict, from mild disagreements to awful battles, from conversations about different perspectives to vilifying one other, from stony silence to screaming matches. The term conflict can mean many different things; from a pathway to understanding and accepting one another more to a way to build negative affect and sentiment. Your perspective on conflict is just so important in shaping the future of your relationship. Do you view conflict and the expression of negative emotions such as hurt and frustration as a sign of an ailing relationship, as something that should be avoided, retreated from or indeed rallied against or do you view relationship conflicts as inevitable and simply part of the couple’s landscape that needs to be understood and worked with? It is the latter view that John Gottman found in his many years of research that promotes relationship satisfaction and stability.
A harsh startup is when one partner brings up an issue and uses criticism and contempt to get their point across. Using Harsh Startups are one of the indicators of a failing relationship, the more often you use them the more damaging they are and the higher your probability of relationship demise.
Many studies have shown that whilst having a baby is often viewed as one to the most joyful events in a couple’s lifetime, the very act of becoming a family can also be the beginning of their relationship unhappiness.
According to Gottman research, a staggering 67% of couples become discontent with each other during the first 3 years of baby’s life, leaving only 33% that remain satisfied during the transition to parenthood and beyond. Exhaustion, hormonal changes, anxiety about baby, a loss of libido and added family pressures are all challenges that can confuse and overwhelm even the strongest of relationships. So here are 5 simple tips to help every new parent stay connected as a couple, instead of just becoming a ‘couple of parents’
Do you feel like your arguments come out of nowhere?
And sometimes you can’t remember what you were fighting about - but it gets nasty and hurtful!
Communication break-down happens when you allow the four horsemen - criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling to enter your relationship.
DR John Gottman found through his research - these four things were the most reliable predictors a divorce was inevitable.
Gottman’s research indicated strong predictors of divorce included high levels of contempt, criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling, all contributing to the development of negative sentiment override and resentment. Does this mean a relationship has absolutely no hope if these things are present?
The answer is categorically NO! Gottman’s research relates to couples who did not enter therapy, did not get any help and who just continued to dig deeper and deeper holes for themselves.
One of the most common complaints I hear from couples is that one or both of the partners feels that they are not important, or that the relationship itself is not important – it’s pushed aside by work or childcare or housework or FaceBook or family or friends or…..
Active listening in couples therapy has generally been proposed as a formulaic approach to having couples talk about issues. It generally takes the form of the speaker saying an I statement that includes a description of a behavior or situation, a feeling they have about the behavior or situation and a request. For example it might be “When you don’t clean up the kitchen after you have eaten I feel angry, I want you to clean up the mess you make.”
The listener is then encouraged to repeat this back so it sounds something like “I hear you saying when I leave mess in the kitchen after I have eaten you feel angry and you want me to clean the kitchen up.”
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