Karen Hirscheimer Counselling

 

 

 

 

"10 Keys" to Creating the Relationship You Want

   
Key
  "You're wrong, I'm right!"
keyKey
  “I’m feeling alone in this relationship”
Key
  “I feel like I am being pushed into things or pressured”
Key
  “I don’t feel accepted or respected for just being me”
Key
  “My partner should be there to deal with my problems and upsets”
Key
  “It’s just one problem after another”
Key
  “I always have to be the strong one in the family and make it right”
Key
  “It’s just easier to sweep it under the carpet and say nothing”
Key
  “I’m feeling taken for granted”
Key
  “We are always fighting or getting the cold shoulder ”

 

THE PROBLEM

"You're wrong, I'm right!"

KEY #1

See that you are on the same team and make room for different perspectives

    How many times does it feel like you are going “round and round” on the same old issue without making any progress towards resolution?  It’s frustrating and tiring, with both partners feeling like they have not been understood or heard. Many relationships eventually turn into more of a power struggle or  competition than a collaborative partnership.

    Learn creative ways to make decisions as a “team.” Keep negotiating until you find a solution that meets both partners’ needs. If one of you is dissatisfied with the outcome, it will affect both of you. Too many discussions end prematurely due to frustration or an unwillingness to go the distance.
    While it may be tempting to just give in (or take control of the decision), the resulting resentment will eventually contaminate your relationship and you’ll be spending more time dealing with the fallout of that (which is usually much more severe) than the extra time and effort it takes to work through to a creative solution to your dilemma. Is your priority to reach that solution or to be “right,” to “win” or “to have it your way?”

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THE PROBLEM

“I’m feeling alone in
this relationship”

KEY #2

Connection is more than just “being with” your partner

   With life being so hectic, it’s easy to get caught up with the demands of work, family responsibilities and personal care. It’s understandable for the love connection with your significant other to sometimes slide or get left behind. It’s no wonder then how many fights get started due to the perception that, “I’m not important to you.”    

    Everyone needs to feel like they matter. Maintaining daily connection doesn’t have to be elaborate or time-consuming. Check in regularly to each others’ experiences of the day and be willing to listen without judging or criticizing.
    Your partner’s daily experience is more than simply a shopping list of what they did. It’s important to get beyond reporting activities and to-do lists. How are they feeling about the day? Listen for emotions, like frustration or disappointment that they may be experiencing. Offer an empathic comment, like “I am sure you’re feeling worried about that,” or a loving hug when your partner is struggling.
  Sharing your partner’s enthusiasm around successes is also important. Show you have listened and taken an interest by checking back with your partner to make sure you’ve understood the intent of what they are trying to say. Active listening skills, like nodding, eye-contact and paraphrasing back what you have heard are greatly under-rated and can enhance all areas of life including relationships with kids, colleagues and friends.
   Most important, do not feel pressure to try to fix or solve every complaint or dilemma. Often, you partner is simply looking for some support and comfort.

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THE PROBLEM

“I feel like I am being pushed into things or pressured”

KEY #3

Listen to your discomfort and discover your limits

    Learning how to negotiate distance and closeness is an important part of any relationship. It is normal for one partner to want or need more connection than the other partner may want at a given time. Sometimes, one partner’s need for connection can even come across in pushy, critical or demanding ways.  You may begin to feel discomfort when that happens.
    Even though you may be feeling uncomfortable with your significant other’s behaviour, you may still feel like you need to be a “patient” or “pleasing” partner.

    The difficulty is that if you ignore your discomfort then your tension can mount and the discussion may end up in unwanted angry outbursts or harsh words, the opposite of what was intended.
     The truth is that everyone has their limits. Rather than ignoring yours, learn to incorporate them into your relationship. You can learn how to teach your partner to be sensitive and respectful of your limits while acknowledging their needs at the same time.
    The key is to understand how to express your discomfort early on and in a way that strengthens rather than diminishes the integrity of the relationship.

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THE PROBLEM

“I don’t feel accepted or respected for just being me”

KEY #4

Feeling safe to be intimate is paramount

    Opinions and guidance intended to help the other partner can often come across as critical, even if you intended it in a constructive, well-meaning manner. If your partner feels criticized or judged, it can have the effect of shutting down intimacy. This will adversely affect the quality of your connection.

    Give your partner some room to make mistakes. Support personal growth by encouraging your partner do it “his or her way.” Despite our many preconceived ideas about how relationships and partners “should be,” it is the differences in your styles, attitudes and beliefs that can make your relationship interesting and multi-faceted. Learn to honour your differences and make some space for each other’s way of seeing and doing things. A flexible attitude goes a long way to building a feeling of emotional safety. 
    The additional payoff is that when your partner feels accepted just the way they are, they may feel safe to consider making adjustments in the direction that you want. When your partner feels under attack, they will more likely become defensive or dig in their heels to protect their position.

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THE PROBLEM

“My partner should be there to deal with my problems and upsets”

KEY #5

Help manage your own emotions and stress

   Getting support from your partner through tough times is a reasonable expectation. However, there is always a danger that a relationship can become a “dumping ground” if it is used primarily for the purpose of venting at the end of the day or if it is expected to absorb prickly bad moods on a regular basis.    
    Your partner may experience trouble supporting you if he or she is overwhelmed with the intensity or duration of your emotions.

    Take responsibility for learning tools to manage your emotions and stress from the day so that it doesn’t leak into the relationship.  This will help to minimize the toxic effects of negativity on your relationship. Your partner may eventually give up being supportive if he or she is always left feeling like it’s never enough or can’t seem to soothe or relieve your difficult mood.
    Learn how to do some of the calming yourself. This will take pressure off of your partner and make it easier for your partner to provide you with loving support.

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THE PROBLEM

“It’s just one problem after another”

KEY #6

Knowing how to recover matters

    Every couple goes through ups and downs of life but sometimes a big wave can unexpectedly throw a relationship into turmoil and even off track.
    The quality of a relationship is determined by how well a couple recovers from the stressors life will naturally impose on the relationship.

    Expect to be thrown off course every now and then. Rough waters can be opportunities to grow closer. Seeing that you can weather storms together, as opposed to blaming one another for contributing to the problem, can make a significant difference.
    Seeking support during these times can also help when partners are feeling overwhelmed. Couples can learn how to lower tension and deflate an overcharged situation. For example, humour and lightness during stressful times can provide much-needed relief. Your “goofs” as a couple can even provide great stories and entertainment. See your development as a couple as a life-long process and enjoy the ride.

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THE PROBLEM

“I always have to be the strong one in the family and make it right”

KEY #7

Embrace your
vulnerable side

     Although we may have been conditioned to believe that we should always be strong, successful and perfect, we really only get to feel that way half the time. The rest of the time, we face bad hair days, self-doubt and those “wish I hadn’t said that” moments.

    Learning to be OK with all our “parts,” even the ones that make us cringe a bit—can pave the way for a more authentic and rewarding relationship. By learning to be accepting of this yourself, you can extend this important gift to your partner as well. Too many relationships suffocate from ultra-rigid roles and expectations. 
    When you let your guard down and admit to not necessarily being able to always do it right, your partner will be more likely to reach out to you and provide you with comfort and support.

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THE PROBLEM

“It’s just easier to sweep it under the carpet and say nothing”

KEY #8

Be  honest and set healthy boundaries

    You may be feeling hurt, angry or afraid as a result of your partner’s behaviour or lack of consideration for your feelings or welfare. If you are uncomfortable with risking the potential for conflict, you may decide to “grin and bear it” even though you feel differently.  This can be especially true if your partner tends to become very angry when touchy issues are raised. While it may be tempting at the moment to avoid the unpleasantness of conflict, it doesn’t have to be unpleasant if you can learn how to deal with conflict effectively.

Understand that “avoiding conflict” can be interpreted by your partner to mean that you are “OK” going along with the situation or your partner’s behaviour. He or she may then get blind-sided when you eventually get fed up and angry. By not speaking up early on, you may deprive your partner of the opportunity to adjust his or her behaviour. It’s really up to you to speak up if you’re not happy. The earlier the better. Don’t let issues build up. The accumulated resentment makes thorny issues harder to deal with rationally. If you bottle things up or “sweep it under the rug,” it may come out, sooner or later, in more unpleasant and extreme ways.

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THE PROBLEM

“I’m feeling taken for granted”

KEY #9

Express appreciation every day

    When one partner constantly does for the other partner and receives little encouragement or appreciation, resentment may set in.
   What you ignore eventually disappears. Relationships can also wither if partners do not consciously nurture and tend to one another. Your real investment just begins after the ceremony or when you live together. If the investment ends, it is difficult to sustain growth and happiness.

    What you appreciate grows. Let your partner know how much you notice their efforts. Even if things aren’t perfect, you can go a long way toward restoring good faith in the relationship by finding things about your partner to praise, enjoy and appreciate. Use every exchange to let your partner know how special they are to you. With the divorce rate skyrocketing, it is clear that marriage doesn’t guarantee lifelong bliss. The reality is that partners each have a choice to stay in a relationships or not. Let your partner know how much the relationship means to you.

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THE PROBLEM

“We are always fighting or getting the cold shoulder ”

KEY #10

Break out of destructive relationship patterns

    The long-term damaging effects of  fighting, whether it involves heated words or giving the “cold shoulder,” are cumulative and  progressive. Over time, in the same way that skin accrues sun damage and loses elasticity, your relationship loses its resiliency and ability to bounce back too.

    Many marriages end in divorce because help was not sought until it was too late and one or both parties had already given up or “moved on.” The sooner you address things the more likely destructive patterns can be corrected without extensive intervention. If patterns become engrained, it’s still possible  to restore the life of the marriage, but it may take more time and energy to do so.
    In addition to being a threat to the survival of your marriage,  constant fighting or tension also has a deleterious effect on your children’s welfare, your health, your energy levels, and other parts of life such as work productivity.

© 2008 Karen Hirscheimer Counselling

Learning how to improve the quality of your relationship is a process, that takes a deeper understanding of why conflicts erupt and what to do about them.  Our counselling offers couples an opportunity not only to effectively deal with  troublesome issues, but also provides a new framework  that allows partners to transform their relationship into one where they feel connected, respected and loved.

Call 416.487.4411 today. We offer a free initial consultation.

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