SHINING A LIGHT ON YOUR UNION TAKES COURAGE – BUT THEN THE RESULTS CAN BE TRULY ILLUMINATING
Kissing is good for your relationship and your immunity.
We all know effective communication is essential to a strong and satisfying relationship, but where to start? With the willingness to question each other, and ourselves, of course.
“Sometimes it may make us uncomfortable, but a lot of good can come out of asking questions of you and your partner,” says life coach
“If you don’t treat it like an interrogation, the right kind of questions can help to highlight any issues. And the sooner differing views and potential conflicts are identified, the happier and more peaceful life at home can be.”
What do I really appreciate about our relationship?
“Often we focus on what the other person isn’t doing. So asking yourself what you like about your partner and relationship is a helpful starting point,” explains relationship counsellor Fiona Bennett.
“If we hit a bumpy patch, we have nothing to fall back on if we don’t have that awareness. It can be appreciating small things they do or how you pull together in tough times. Questions need to be a point of connection.”
Who am I? And who are “we”? This is a question for you and your partner. Do you have an identity in your relationship or perhaps your relationship is your identity? One partner may be more dominant, so the other may feel their needs are the last to be met.
“If you’ve always done what someone else wants, then you can get niggly and angry,” says psychologist Dr Mandy Deeks. “Think about who you are as a couple, your role and what you’d like it to be. Talk to your partner, listen and work out your roles together.”
What aspects of the relationship need to change and what would my partner say about this? Thinking about any changes in your relationship from your partner’s perspective can provide a reality check, Lindsay says. Actually naming exactly what it is you’d like to do differently in your relationship can remove some of the anxiety of making those changes too, she adds.
“People also don’t think about what they could change for the better in their relationship when there isn’t much wrong,” tells Lindsay. “But that’s the time to discuss your ideal vision and what that looks like for you and your partner.”
What do I need to work on? Over time, it becomes easy to take your relationship, and spouse, for granted. “Do you treat your partner with respect?” asks Dr Deeks. “Do you say goodbye when you leave home? Do you spend time with each other?”
Think about what you could do to improve the quality of your relationship. Then try to understand your partner’s perspective on your shared plans and problems, and ask them to tell you more about that because your curiosity shows that you care.
Who has an ideal relationship and what can be learned from them?
This question is for both you and your partner, and it can help with shifting out of any rut. “Think of role models who, in your eyes, are doing things well. Think about what they do in their relationship and how they make it work. What are their strategies?” says Lindsay.
What do you need from me in this relationship?
This is a question to ask your partner, no matter how well you think you understand them.
It helps if you think of your relationship as a third person – as something that together you are looking after and care about, Fiona suggests. “It’s not just about bringing each other a cup of tea in bed, it’s about offering support when one of you is stressed. This question lets your partner know that you care about what you have,” she says.
If I demonstrated I value this relationship, what would
I be doing differently?
It’s easy to drift but if you are serious about keeping a relationship healthy, it helps to show your partner that you really value it. Ask yourself what you could do differently to demonstrate the importance you place on being with your partner. Could you spend more time together, share new interests or fight less?
What will happen if nothing changes?
This is a question for you. Often we need a catalyst or a reason to make changes. This may cause a little pain but without pain, there’s no gain, tells Lindsay. “Think about how you will continue to feel if your relationship doesn’t change. If you don’t want to feel that way, then you have to do something about it. Think about the worst-case scenarios so you have some real motivation to change.”
What can I do to help my partner understand me better?
Often we think people are mind-readers. “If you want a person to respond to you the best way they can, you have to articulate your thoughts, needs and values,”
Lindsay says. “The clearer you are, the more opportunity your partner has to respond considerately. Think about what you want your partner to know about you and how you communicate that. But do it in a calm space – not in the middle of an argument.” How do you communicate? Ask yourself whether you communicate via anger. Do you start every sentence with, “You drive me crazy” or, “You don’t understand me”? Or do you say, “I know you’re stressed, I know you are busy and I know it’s hard to find the time, but I really need you to listen”?
Dr Deeks says, “Finding a way to talk to your partner that’s respectful means you’re likely to have a successful relationship.
“When communicating, treat each other as you would a friend, expect respect and try to use
‘I’ statements, not ‘you’ statements. And always pick your moment!”