Five min­utes with Tr­isha Strat­ford

RE­LA­TION­SHIP EX­PERT

Good Health Choices - - Be Informed -

‘IF WE REG­U­LARLY GO TO BED AN­NOYED WITH OUR PART­NER, WE RUN THE RISK OF ALIEN­AT­ING THEM

OVER TIME’

If you have been fol­low­ing the re­al­ity show Mar­ried at First Sight Aus­tralia, you’ll recog­nise Dr Tr­isha Strat­ford, one of the re­la­tion­ship ex­perts de­liv­er­ing straight-talk­ing ad­vice when the new­ly­weds run into strife. As a clin­i­cal neu­ropsy­chother­a­pist, Tr­isha knows a thing or two about the way we tick, why we run into con­flict, and what we all need to be happy and well.

Here, we asked her a few ques­tions of our own.

Is it true cou­ples should ‘never go to bed an­gry’?

Anger is a cor­ro­sive emo­tion and if we reg­u­larly go to bed an­noyed with our part­ner, we run the risk of alien­at­ing them over time and de­stroy­ing our re­la­tion­ship. Anger cre­ates more anger, so it’s prefer­able to sharpen up our com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills and learn to fight fair rather than us­ing it as a de­fence to shut down. We need to re­mem­ber to go hard on the is­sue and easy on the per­son – this way we don’t per­son­alise the anger and we can have a good dis­cus­sion to clear the air. The key com­mu­ni­ca­tion is­sues in con­flict are to own our anger and not blame the other per­son.

Is hon­esty re­ally the best pol­icy?

Hon­esty is the best pol­icy; how­ever some­times it is im­por­tant to be as hon­est as you can as soon as you can. Tim­ing and gra­cious­ness are im­por­tant. The right time and place is crit­i­cal so ad­dress the is­sue when your part­ner will be open to what you are say­ing.

What’s the most com­mon re­la­tion­ship mis­take you see on

Mar­ried At First Sight?

Cou­ples hav­ing ex­traor­di­nar­ily high ex­pec­ta­tions of their part­ners so they don’t see them for who they are, but who they want them to be. Also, a lack of good com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills around telling their part­ner what they want and need.

What do you think pos­sesses some­one to marry a stranger?

The most com­mon theme is lone­li­ness. They want some­one to love and many want to start a fam­ily. We have a so­cial brain and we look for that re­la­tional con­nec­tion to make us feel truly alive. Oth­ers have al­ready had many failed re­la­tion­ships and no longer trust their abil­ity to choose a part­ner who is right for them.

Do you re­ally ask peo­ple to sniff sweat to find their per­fect match for the show?

Yes they re­ally do sniff the other par­tic­i­pants’ T-shirts! This is an im­por­tant part of the ex­per­i­ment be­cause smell is our most evoca­tive sense, and when we are at­tracted to some­one we are al­ways at­tracted to their gen­uine body odour. Smell is in­te­gral in the mat­ing process as a woman is de­tect­ing whether a man’s im­mune sys­tem is com­pat­i­ble but dif­fer­ent enough from theirs, so they can have healthy off­spring.

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