Five minutes with Trisha Stratford
‘IF WE REGULARLY GO TO BED ANNOYED WITH OUR PARTNER, WE RUN THE RISK OF ALIENATING THEM
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.