WHAT IS A TRUE SHARING RELATIONSHIP

I know of couples that have been together for many years and still do not have a shared bank account. So how much do you financially share in a relationship? Well you could have a joint bank account for commonly used goods, like food and holidays. There are definite positive emotional outcomes for couples sharing money and paradoxically a sense of separation when not doing so. It also stops unintended financial bullying. What did that cost???

Ah but what about the risk? Well life is full of risk and without it life is pretty safe and dull. I feel it is important to lessen financial imbalances in a relationship and couples need to work at this so they both feel equal. It is not uncommon for one partner to be better off than the other. What seems important is to share common things so if you move into another’s home for instance, pay reasonable rent. Share, and expect others to share common expenses, and emotionally you will feel more equal, more connected.

Sharing the things that need to be done and organized also makes couples feel equal. If you are both working professionally obviously getting a cleaner in prevents many resentment squabbles over those jobs. Who in your relationship pays the bills, buys food, arranges social events, plans holidays, fixes things, cleans the car and rings mutual friends? If it is only you then equality is not happening.

I know these doing things might seem petty but in the long run the more you share the more your will feel connected emotionally. You might have to challenge your control freak bias but it is important to let the other do more. They might never truly know how much you do anyway. So how do you go about sharing more without having a big row over who does what all the time?

I find having a suggestion jar where couples write down things they want to discuss for later is a good way to start. Having regular times to sit down with a cuppa, or a glass of wine, makes light of these sharing ideas. Having a set time to discuss sharing ideas stops having an argument every time resentment builds up about doing more than the other. Once the suggestion is in the jar a sense of relief takes place where the issue will be sorted out at a later set date.

May I also suggest using “I’ statements when discussing ideas. “I find doing the shopping all the time really boring and would like some help with that.” This is better than saying, “You never ever do the shopping.” The way we organise words is powerful.

Sharing in a relationship results in a sense of equality, self-respect and mutual understanding. Inequalities manifest in emotional separation at a deeper level. So be brave and start sharing more. Using a suggestion jar could launch your relationship into greater adventures and new worlds.

 

 

 

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COUPLES AND COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN

COUPLES AND COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN

Communication breakdown is one of the major issues couples say is the problem in their relationship. The love underneath is felt but a distance has been created where there seems little to say to each other and a sense of boredom has crept in. There are many causes of this that can be addressed with curiosity for “what else”.

Being Present

It is impossible to have good communication if either person is not fully present in the relationship. Having secrets is a major barrier to being present.

Mobile Phones & Laptops

We love them. We need them, as they are storage for things that are important in our lives – our second brain. When going out for dinner or just out, especially with him or her, try leaving them at home. At home when they come home close the computer for a while to chat about each other’s days. We know we are addicted to them because without them we feel, well, naked. When you feel that emotion, being without your phone/computer, know that it is your addiction speaking to you. Interesting!

Immersion

There is a lot or research on the negative aspects of immersion in relationships. That is doing everything together all the time. I know it feels safe to be with him or her but in doing so there is deep down compromise going on, with each person not having any new experiences. And without new experiences there is little to talk about. We don’t really have to do everything together. A separate holiday, a night our with separate friends, yoga class, tennis, book club, a movie – are things that can be done separate to your partner and the benefits are many. There is no need to feel threatened if you have trust in your relationship. You will enjoy it after the first felt emotions.

How is Our Relationship Going Chat

Asking and inviting the answer to the question, “How is our relationship going do you think?” is an excellent thing to do regularly. There are many assumptions made by us individually about our partner’s wellbeing. Inviting the answer to this question allows many things assumed to be discussed. We all want to hear, ‘Great’ but maybe there is a time to talk about sex, finance, domestic duty sharing, time spent with each other, etc.

Love Language

It is very easy to take each other for granted. They always come home, our domestic life is cozy and life is good, safe and predictable. Over time we tend to stop thanking our partners for that cup of tea, forget to organize a restaurant booking, buy theatre tickets, flowers, a card to say ‘I love you’ (or say it), text during the day, call each other by a loving nickname and generally thank them for being there with you.

Being Grateful

I’m sure you have heard about the benefits of sharing what you are grateful for before going to sleep. There you are in fresh sheets, feeling like giggling because you are so happy and cozy next to them and this is the perfect time to reel off 3 things you are grateful for in your life. Doing this is so bonding and it is so simple.

Having a sense of shared curiosity about doing things differently will open up communication between couples. Starting with, “How is our relationship going do you think?” is a great beginning.

 

SURVING AN AFFAIR

AN AFFAIR TO FORGET

You have met the one you love and the first years have been bliss. You have felt validated by being loved and you have extended your love to your partner. Then one day the world changes and you find out they had sex with someone else. You now feel crushed under the fallen debris of deceit and betrayal. How do your survive this shattering discovery and can you still maintain the relationship?

SURVIVING FIRST THOUGHTS

The first reaction is from your mind and it is telling you to walk away, sell any joint property, be on your own and lick your wounds. If you search deeper however your heart might say you still love them and want to talk more about what happened. There is also the physical side of your relationship that has a voice. Your mutual friends, family ties, the dog, the house and a sense of companionship that is still there. Are you really prepared to throw it all away as an act of revenge?

DISCUSS

Maybe it is time to discuss what happened taking a helicopter view rather than a purely emotional one. Maybe you haven’t been communicating lately, maybe you haven’t had sex for ages and no one has been brave enough to talk about it (the brain gets very lazy and de sexes our partners over time) and maybe there are unshared secrets that stopped honest intimacy.

 

There are many choices when infidelity occurs. It can be seen as unforgiveble or as acceptance this was a wake up call. When was the last time the question of, “How are we going do you think?” is asked of the partner. Such a question allows the other to open up emotionally and really talk. Having an honest and open discussion can re-unite a couple by sharing deeper thoughts and vulnerabilities. In doing so secrets that keep couples apart can be revealed and a greater sense of closeness achieved.

MORE TIME TOGETHER?

Maybe you need to: review the whole structure of your relationship like changing work demands so you can spend more time together, plan dates with each other, have weekends away with just the two of you (and the dog), talk about ways to get back in the boat, or the bath, and have sex together (once you get it started the rest will follow) and make time for dreams to aim for (a vegetable patch, travel, spar bath, a dog, new house, etc).

VALUES

Also over time couples develop a different idea of assumed values and attitudes. It is a good idea to see if you and your partner have similar values and attitudes. Are you on the same page today? False assumptions are easily made in long-term interactions. I have developed a values and attitudes survey for couple and if you email me I will send you it to you for free.

HELP

Discovering an infidelity can be heart breaking but there are things a couple can do to move on in the relationship by honest discussion and taking a helicopter view of why it happened. And then plan a future where greater intimacy and closeness can be worked on. Please do try to repair your relationship, as it is harder than you think to find another. Maybe you will both grow through this affair. Take care.

 

Gerry North is a couple and general counsellor treating depression, anxiety, self-esteem building, and addictions.

Email: gerrynorthcounsellor@gmail.com or www.counsellingworkslondon.uk

SECRETS

KEEPING SECRETS RUINS RELATIONSHIPS

Are you tempted to check his or her phone, email or Facebook account? If you are thinking about doing it, the relationship is already in trouble. You are tempted to do this because you have strong feelings the partner is keeping secrets from you. Is it okay to check your partner’s contact platforms and what will you do with any information you find? Well what do you think, is it okay or not to check up on your partner?

Trust is one of the three most important pillars of a healthy relationship, the other two being sharing life’s personal challenges (our vulnerabilities) and having dreams about the future – for each other and as a couple. If you do look at your partner’s phone it means you have trust issues and looking means you also now have a secret to hold – or not.

Holding secrets is as damaging to the person doing it as it is to the person cheated of the truth. John and Carol have been together for 8 years and their sex life has collapsed. John spends 2 hours and the gym and Carol is suspicious about that. John has been texting people on Tinder but has not met anyone and enjoys the pure fantasy of flirting. John has coffee after the gym with a girl he trains with but doesn’t want to tell Carol, as he knows she will get jealous. He has decided to keep this a secret and feels he is entitled to a private life of some sort. Carol agonizes over whether to go through John’s phone and finally does so, finding a text about meeting someone for coffee after gym. She confronts John who denies anything is going on but Carol is ready to leave the relationship.

So is John entitled to hold some secrets from Carol and is it okay for Carol to go through his phone? We all hold some secrets from the world. We don’t express our personal fears to everyone we meet but on the other hand keeping secrets keeps us apart from the ones we love. You have to be brave to be honest but in doing so respect is shown for the relationship and each other.

What if John had firstly discussed their failing sex life and how it impacts their relationship? What if John had discussed his feelings for wanting some sort of sex fantasy and the need to have different relationships with new people? What if Carol had spoken to John about her feelings of wanting to go through his phone and his suspicions about the 2 hours at the gym?

Getting it all out in the open at the beginning would not have lead to what now is a major threat to their on-going relationship – the keeping of secrets. I ask many couples to check in with each other often with a sit down and asking the question, “How is our relationship going do you think?”

So what do you think, should partners check each other phone or other contact platforms? Do they have a right to?

 

Why do some stay in an abusive relationship?

Counsellors seeing clients for couple counselling attempt to maintain hope in the room for the relationship to get back on track. But sometimes we are baffled as to what keeps an individual in a relationship that is clearly an abusive.

Abuse comes in many forms physical and emotional. Physical abuse should never be tolerated and anyone suffering such has to leave the relationship. Emotional abuse however sneaks up on partners, where confusion and disassociation takes place.

Confusion happens because the abused partner still finds positive things in the relationship. There is physical sex, a domestic home life and sometimes the expression of kind words but there is also overt abuse present. This emotional abuse is very evident when the abusive partner does not get his/her way or they have been found out about a deceit and defend it with a verbal tirade of abuse.

After the floodgates have opened the abused partner often begins to believe it is their fault for upsetting their partner. Eventually the abused partner has no self-esteem and little defense for reason or equality.

Disassociation, or not having any emotional understanding of reality, is primarily due to a childhood where abuse was common in the household. To survive avoidance of what is witnessed occurs. When abuse is replicated in adult relationships, this same coping strategy is used – disassociation of reality.

Abused partners can also stay in abused relationship because they fear being alone, they have a rescue complex where they believe they can heal the partner, the abusive partner insists they will be hurt if they leave them and finally the abused partner often starts to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol to cope.

If you are in a relationship you will know deep down if there is abuse going on. You will know. Those that are not abused do not consider it as an issue. Finding a power balance and a sense of equality in a relationship is healthy thing to work on.

If you think you are in an abusive relationship it is worth exploring how serious it is and to what degree any change could occur. Physical abuse is just not on and I am sure you will agree. Lifeline is 13 11 14 and their counsellors are very well trained.

With emotional abuse exploring your childhood, or previous relationships, might provide awareness that disassociation is occurring where you are numb and confused about what is real and what is not.

There is also the possibility that a destructive dynamic has slowly developed in a long term relationships, where one person now accepts continual criticisms as normal and the other thinks they are entitled to speak this way.

If it hurts too much you will know where trying to work it out is pointless. Building up self-esteem with an abused partner is very important and can be done. To do this it is time to begin having a positive relationship with them self. Sometimes this means leaving the present relationship. There are wonderful supportive gay relationships out there where emotional abuse is not at all present.

Gerry North is a gay couple counsellor and also treats depression, anxiety, panic attacks, sexual matters and addictions.