I have some interesting conversations with couples from time to time.
More often than not, there is one partner who feels the need to raise an alarm on their relationship. They are not happy. Something is amiss. They feel that their relationship is going through some really tough times.
The other partner on the other hand is quite oblivious to the situation. “Do we really have a problem?” they might ask.
So, how do you deal with a situation like this?
A relationship is between two people. If one of the two thinks their relationship is near the end and the other one does not even see the cracks, you have a big mismatch.
The fact is that the attitude “why fix it, if it is not broken” might work for your plumbing issue, but definitely not for your relationship. If your water main burst, after showing some cracks, you have to call the plumber, get it fixed and deal with the mess.
If your relationship breaks and separation becomes a real option, you are dealing with a way bigger and more serious issue. It goes to the core of each of you and can be quite dramatic.
We are all well informed on the consequences of a divorce – you divide the assets, you divide the friends, you divide the money and you try to divide the kids to your best abilities. You are left with a tonne of broken pieces and a broken heart. Sometimes even with a shattered mind and self-worth.
Letting the cracks in your relationship get bigger and bigger is not a good approach. You want to fix those cracks before it is too late.
Begin to look at your relationship as a system built of two people. Your system currently has certain patterns of behaviour. Some of them are working in your favour. Some of these patterns are obviously not working, otherwise you wouldn’t feel unhappy or uneasy.
Let’s put it in plain English: if you start to act differently in your relationship, your spouse cannot NOT change their behaviour accordingly. Whether you are bringing new communication to the relationsghip, a new vigour for spending quality time together, a heightened sense of what needs to change, your partner needs to adapt. They need to act differently. And your relationship does change too.
What you could do
The first thing I recommend to anyone coming to me with their concerns and worries is to take stock. How do you do this? You simply answer the 25 question of my relationship performance quiz and that will give you a pretty good indication of where you are at right now.
You might be able to entice your partner to do the same. And that might alert them to the fact that their relationship is far from ideal.
By then comparing your score gives you a chance to unemotionally talk about the fact that you are fearing for your relationship and that you want something to change.
Still your partner might react with the same “why fix it…” but at least they know that you are not happy and that might trigger some reaction.
Secondly I recommend to you to read some of my blogs on my website and learn and observe. The more tips, tools and techniques you can use in your relationship, the more you are going to change those patterns I described earlier.
How I could support you
There are a couple of coaching packages or individual sessions I could offer you to support you and your partner in creating a lasting relationship. The best way to evaluate those is through a free 15-minute call. Simply book your preferred time in my calendar following this link.
If you do not consciously take care of the things you cherish, they WILL decline in value.
You maintain your house, your car, your computer, your health, and your teeth because if you don’t, they lose their value.
To wait to fix your relationship only once it’s broken is a flawed approach. If you do not look after your relationship, it declines in value. It is inevitable.
A while ago a friend of mine told me a story – she was dating a nice man and she was rally in love with him. She said everything was going very well. He had planned a trip before they met and so, when the time came, he went away for a three-week holiday. My friend did not consider this a big drama at all, just a new partner following through with previously planned commitments. They had spent a couple of nights together and she considered it to be the beginning of a serious relationship.
On the first day of his trip he sent a long and loving text. Then she didn’t hear from him until the third day she heard from him. Again it was a text – shorter and cooler in tone though. Then she never heard back from him.
He kind of left the face of the earth. Well, he could be in an area with little or no internet she thought. But the longer the silence lasted the more upset she became.
On the day he was to return she even went out of her way to pick him up from the airport – he wasn’t there. So she called him – he was already home – the flight came in early.
The next time they met she obviously asked him “You have been away for three weeks, wasn’t there any Internet, wasn’t there any way to connect with me?” and he replied “I am not interested in a long-term relationship”
My friend was devastated.
She was committed, he obviously was not.
Let’s look therefore at the question – when can you consider your relationship to be a committed one, and at what point can you safely say that you are committed?
Is it the first kiss or the first night together?
Is it after a month of exclusively dating the one person?
Is it when you have slept together a couple of times?
Or is it when you move in together?
For some it might be only after they’ve got married.
The answer to these questions are different for everyone and can easily cause a lot of friction and stress between you and your partner if it is not clear.
What you can do
First you need to ask yourself what it is that you want, especially when it is at the start of a new relationship. Do you want a partner for a night, a month or a year? Do you want to settle down and plan a family and have kids? Do you just want to have fun?
Maybe you want to start a serious relationship and at first want to see how it might pan out. This gives you a clear understanding and allows you to focus on your new relationship – without the need to organise your nuptials after your first or second date.
Once you are clear for yourself, it would be a good idea to find out from your partner. Where does she or he stand? What do they want to get out of your encounter?
In most cases, at the start of a relationship, you won’t be able to see or determine whether your relationship has the potential to be a life-long relationship, but you can at least be committed and treat your new relationship as being exclusive – meaning you won’t date others at the same time.
Over the years
You might think this conversation is all well and good for those who are starting a relationship or that discussions of commitment are only relevant for the first few months for a fledgling couple.
But it is not.
You need to constantly ask yourself and your partner “How committed are you?”
I see so many relationships where one partner is looking for ways to improve their relationship because they sense that something is not right, while their partner often times is totally oblivious to their feelings and concerns.
But the feeling of disconnection might turn into a real relationship problem. When one of you is constantly unsure about the relationship; when one of you is feeling misunderstood or not being heard; when one of you is in fear of losing the connection . . . this all can easily lead to a drop in commitment.
What you can do
Now, if you would take a moment during your next active appointment and ask your partner “on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being high) how committed are you right now?” you could get an understanding of where you are at together.
And don’t freak out or call the divorce lawyer if your partner says “seven out of ten”. Rather ask yourself “does this come as a surprise?” And in any case, ask your partner, what would need to happen so that they are back on to a 10/10 commitment.
You know, a 5, 6 or 7 out of 10 does not mean the end of your relationship. But left undetected or unattended, it could drop even further and leave your relationship is in danger.
Maybe you and your partner should (individually) take my Relationship Performance Indicator test and find out for both your RPI-score. It is quick, it is fun and it is remarkably accurate.
As for my friend and her disappointing story – she responded to me when asked, “How do you feel?” with, “Luckily it wasn’t too far into our relationship that it happened, it would have happened anyway, and I am fine now.”
Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves?
The other day a woman contacted me and voiced her concern for her partner. She really felt for him and asked me: “How do I get my partner to not put so much pressure on himself?”
So here we are in the 21st century, where the automated support we have at our disposal is nearly endless and yet we are still putting ourselves under extreme pressure.
The washing is done automatically, we don’t have to memorise phone numbers any more, finding our way is a bliss thanks to the maps on our smartphone. We can have a coffee at literally every corner of the country and if we missed a movie we could download it from the web at a fraction of the cost of the movie tickets.
And still we are not content. We want more in less time.
If this sounds all too familiar and you have identified that you put enormous pressure on yourself, the reason behind it undoubtedly stems from your personality traits.
This self-prescribed pressure might be because you see yourself as the provider for a family and your own money beliefs dictate you to make more money every day.
Or you might be in a job where you are stressed because of the peer-pressure and the expectations of your boss and customers.
When you are in a relationship there is also a great deal of pressure coming from within the relationship. Depending on your personality you might (subconsciously) compete with your partner. Or you may even put pressure on your partner through your own expectations. Maybe you want to start a family or to move into a bigger home and your partner feels your expectations of them as additional pressure.
If you find that your partner is under extreme pressure, maybe you need to stop for a minute and reflect on what you are actually contributing to their stress. Often times it is not a verbal contribution or at least not explicit. We all pick up more or less on the subtleties of communication, meaning you might involuntarily add to the overall mixture of stress for your partner.
The solution? Well, my answer to the lady who contacted me was to look at how she could assist in reducing the stress within the relationship.
You know that you can’t make your partner change. To get your partner to put less pressure on himself you can only start by changing your actions. You could make him feel your support no matter what curve balls have been thrown at him. You could show your unconditional love and your unwavering empathy.
Only once he has realised that he is in fact putting too much pressure on himself, will he do something about it. He needs to realise for himself that too much pressure does lead to stress and frustration and health issues. Once he makes those connections he is more likely to put a plan into place to eliminate the pressure – he needs to be the one to do something about it.
What you can do…
Talk to your partner and listen carefully for clues. You’ll notice the difference between a momentary stress or a constant pressure that is pushing him close to breaking point.
Also be open and show empathy. You might also want to ask your partner whether you are adding to his or her pressure. Or you could ask what you might be able to do to help.
Remember you are a team. And as it is with every chain – it breaks at the weakest link.
How I could help you…
Contact me if you think an outside perspective might be helpful. We can always arrange for a 15-minute obligation free call where you can find out how I could offer support and guidance.
Try finding out the status of your relationship first, by completing this short quiz. Answering 25 questions will give you pretty good assessment of your current relationship.
Can you believe it is already that time of the year again? The start of Summer is upon us, Christmas is fast approaching and we are beginning to turn our minds to planning a memorable New Years eve. It is all so exciting.
So here we are. 2018 slowly closing and 2019 lifting its head from the ground. How do you hope the next year will turn out to be? Do you hope to get a promotion? Do you plan on finally falling pregnant? Where would you like to go on holidays? And is it possible to revive your relationship and be happy and satisfied again with your partner?
As you sit here with your thoughts reaching out to the next 12 months, does your mind turn to making a New Year’s Eve resolution?
The problem here is that these somewhat infamous New Years resolutions usually only last a week or two. Why? Because all too often, and we are all guilty of this at some point in our lives, we tend to concentrate on the idea but not on the outcome.
I want to drink less.
I want to do more sport.
I want to fight less with my partner.
I want to stop yelling at the kids.
I want to lose weight.
Those are all well and good intentions but what is the outcome? Where do these resolutions lead you to? Not really far. And the other issue here is that many of our well-intended resolutions are stated as negation. The problem with negation is that that our subconscious cannot understand negations.
“Don’t go when the light is red” is very dangerous because our subconscious registers only “go”, “light” and “red”. The better statement would be “Only go when the light is green.” Now our brain hangs on to “go”, “light” and “green”.
So instead of “I want to drink less” you could say “I’ll only drink 2 standard drinks on 3 nights each week”.
Instead of “I want to fight less with my partner” you could state “I want a harmonious relationship where we solve our differences in peaceful discussions.”
But when you really want to create a New Year’s resolution that works and drives you forward you need to think of the outcome and give your mind a visual representation. My mentor Chris Howard taught us a great way of creating those goals and how to frame them in our mind. His formula follows an acronym which is CREATE.
The C stands for Concise – is your goal worded in a clear and concise manner?
R stands for Realistic – is your goal achievable within the timeframe you give to it?
E stands for Ecologic – is it safe for you, safe for others and safe for the planet? You want a goal that creates something great for you without hurting other people or taking advantage of them. You don’t want to exploit nature either.
A stands for Attractive – is your goal attractive enough for you to drive you towards it? How bad do you want it?
T stands for Timed – do you have a specific date by when you want to have your goal achieved?
The final E stands for End Step – questioning what is the final puzzle piece that needs to fall into place so that you know that you have achieved your goal. This End Step is the most powerful element of Chris’ CREATE formula, because our subconscious is working with images and feelings. This means that if you can get a clear image of what it looks like when you have achieved your goal, then your subconscious will work with you towards that goal.
How does this CREATE formula work in practice?
When you think of the goal to “fight less with your partner” your goal could look like this (write it down on a piece of paper or as a note in your phone).
“It is now 25th December 2019. My partner and I are sitting on our balcony with a glass of champagne toasting to a peaceful and harmonious twelve months we just had.”
This goal ticks all the boxes. It is very clear and concise, it is realistic, it is ecologic (safe to everyone involved), for sure it is attractive, it is clearly timed and it has a very nice end step.
Now your task is to make this picture of you and your partner toasting to each other as vivid as possible in your mind and store this image in your mind. Then you read your description daily to yourself. In time, you will see that once and for all, your New Year’s Resolution is actually working.
If you have any further question on how to CREATE your best NY resolution don’t hesitate to contact me – I am happy to help. welcome@Inspiring-Relationships.com.au
There are few critical moments which have the potential of defining a relationship – and one of those is travelling with your partner.
Why is travelling such a critical endeavour?
First of all, travel always requires a fair amount of organising and depending on the skill within each of you, that organisation in itself is the first point for stress. And then you need a fair bit of flexibility to adapt quickly to the new situation wherever you are going.
I’m not talking about the weekend away in the Blue Mountains or Yarra Valley here. I’m talking about a trip half around the country or even more so travelling abroad.
You could divide the points of stress into three categories.
- The Packing
- The Travelling
- The Destination
And there might be a fourth I’ll be touching on later. 🙂
Shouts can be heard through the apartment or house –
“Honey, where did I put my passport?” or “What’s the temperature there like?” or “Have you seen my blue sweater? I can’t go without it…” and so on.
I once asked a friend of mine before he went overseas which books he was planning on reading while he was away, and his response was something along the lines of “not sure,I guess it depends on which ones my wife packs for me.” Looking at my gaping mouth he added “She’s packing everything for me, from the socks to the books, I don’t have to do anything…”
This indeed could be a solution to the problem of packing. Not sure that I would subscribe to it though!
How long in advance do you want to arrive at the airport? How much time do you give yourself from leaving the house till the plane’s departure? And how stressed are you by a large number of people in confined spaces?
You see the answer to these three questions gives you an idea of how stressful the check-in and boarding at the airport might be.
Some want to be the first on the plane to get used to the space, make themselves comfortable and set up the entertainment system and the pillow. Others (like myself) like to be the last on the plane. The seats are allocated, so there is no need to rush.
Now put these two different persona together and you have the perfect breeding ground for the first argument already.
When travelling by car within Australia the scenario is a bit different and the main questions to discuss here are: How comfortable are you with long stretches of driving yourself? How comfortable are you with long stretches of being driven by someone else? And how stressed are you be large number of other cars on the road and possible congestions?
Some people suffer from motion sickness from travelling in a car too long, especially when they try to read at the same time. Some people are very bad in trusting another person at the wheel and get stressed by just sitting on the passenger seat. And some of us are easily stressed when there is a slight delay due to heavy traffic.
Because you are confined to the small space of a car, this stress can result in heavy arguments between the two of you and you could potentially end up tainting the whole trip.
For all sorts of travel you need to be aware of sudden changes in plans. You might miss a flight, you miss the connection flight, you have a flat tire, one of you got sea-sick, or the plane couldn’t take-off or land due to bad weather, the luggage got misdirected and will arrive late…
In short: if your travel plans got sabotaged by outside forces, how would you react?
If you are travelling by yourself that might be an easy complication for you and be easily handled. But when you are travelling with your partner, you need to factor in how they may cope with each potential change of scenario. So whilst you are (or pretend to be) relaxed, your partner might throw a tantrum and you are now their target of anger and frustration.
Let’s say you arrived without complications. The packing went well, the trip was smooth and everything was a breezel. Now you arrive at your destination and the big question now is:
How flexible are you?
You know the gap between expectation and reality has the potential to cause stress. The wider the gap the more stress it produces inside of us.
We all have certain expectations of how the holidays or our travels should turn out. We have high expectations and anticipate the hotel, the weather, the people, and the local opportunities.
So now you arrive and the hotel is not as nice as it looked on the internet. The distance to the beach is longer than anticipated. It’s raining and the people next door are having a marvellous time without turning the volume down.
What are you saying to yourself? And how is your partner reacting?
You see, we all plan our holidays with great expectations. Finally we get away from all the worries, the job, the internet, the family and we can spend quality time with our partner. Or so we hope. We wish this to be a time where we can re-connect with our partner. We want to have quality time, to engage in deep conversations, to create some magic moments and to have relaxed, good sex.
Now after the stress and arguments whilst packing, the stressful trip to arrive here and to top it all the hotel is loud and lacking maintenance, we may feel deflated. The high hopes for a wonderful time can turn sour in the first 24 hours of our holidays together.
And here comes the fourth critical factor into play. The lack of distance.
Being too close:
In your day to day life you spend most of the time apart working. On the weekends you both have different agendas with sport, shopping, friends and family activities. So now in your holidays you see each other 24/7. You are with each other 24/7. And for some this might be too much.
Seeing the other person, sensing the other person and feeling the other person very close for days can be challenging. There is nothing wrong with it. But it could lead to less intimacy and less sex.
Your expectations (again) were to have more sex, but the reality is, that you have less sex – because one of you (or both) need some breathing space and rather withdraw instead of getting even closer during sex.
What you can do?
First of all it is good to be aware of these different dynamics that can play out during travelling together.
And this is even more important for couples where the relationship is maybe hitting a rough patch. Those couples often times hope to solve all their differences by going away together. But in fact a trip can easily amplify the problems which are already there.
Therefore I encourage you to reduce your high hopes and maybe even go with an open mind. Take it as an adventure and be (mentally) prepared that your flexibility is demanded.
Please talk to your partner beforehand, speak about these four stress-points and look at your strengths in handling those.
Take it as a team and ensure you both concentrate on seeing the positive side of this adventure. Then you will have an awesome time and can create memories for a lifetime.
And if you want to check the health of your relationship, check out my quiz for your personal score.
Today I met a young woman at a networking event and we started to chat.
Eventually she asked me what business I was in and I responded that I’m a relationship expert helping couples who hit a rough patch to get back on track without needing to air dirty laundry.
She said “oh, I needed that kind of service a couple of months back” and her face flushed with bad memories. Picking it up I asked “so when did you separate” and she said “in January – after 5 years being together”.
And she added, that she’d be now talking to the lawyers as it was a de-facto relationship.
Of course my professional interest wanted to know more.
“What happened? What was the reason?” I asked.
“We didn’t know how to communicate” was her dry response.
She then said something that really got me thinking. She said ”Even in the end, he did not see it coming. I spent the last couple of days at a friend’s place. And when I came home to tell him that is over, he only asked when I was coming home”.
Did you know that over 70% of divorces are filed by the women?
Men often don’t see it coming. They don’t know how bad their relationship is. They live in the delusion that everything will sort itself out. They hold on to the ideology that if it’s not broken, why bother fixing it?
Guys, let me tell you that if it is broken, it is too late to fix it.
You need to be proactive and make sure your partner is happy in your relationship.
How is this relevant for you?
Each year thousands of men around the world come home to a vacant house. All traces from their former partner have been removed. Empty cupboards, empty beds and no laughter from the kids’ room.
Men come home totally unaware of what must have been going on for months before their wives would take such a dramatic step and leave.
I feel out of place when my wife of more than 25 years is away for a business trip to Melbourne. I come home to an empty house knowing that the next few nights will be lonesome and cold. But at least all her things are still there and I know that day and time she’s coming back.
How it must feel to open the door and all you hear are the echoes of your footsteps is totally beyond me. And my assumption here is, that you never want to experience this yourself.
What you could do?
It is all about communication and ensuring there is an environment for that to happen.
You should take your wife out for an active appointment and really listen and understand how she is feeling. Maybe you could even ask her, “How happy are you in our relationship right now?”
And then hold your breath and really listen with empathy and compassion to what she has to say.
Hopefully your relationship is not broken, but in any case, there is benefit in finding out whether there are any cracks that need your attention.
Remember once it is broken, it is too late to fix it.
If you want to find out what an active appointment is, please check out my website and download the short guide to your active appointments.
And as for the young woman I met…She said “it didn’t work out and I’m much happier now. Better to find out now and to break up now than in four years’ time.” And she looked very happy saying it.