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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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HOW HEALTHY IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP?

HOW HEALTHY IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP?

You have been in a relationship for a while however the way you are communicating with each other is not healthy or positive and you know it. And the reason is more than likely the relationship dynamic that has developed. Let me explain.

The dynamic is the mental attitude and behaviour you exhibit towards your partner. Take for example you have developed a mental idea that your partner is basically lazy, never gets around to organizing important matters and if it was not for you the whole financial and social world you live in would collapse.

This now is your established way of thinking about your partner and you organize everything to the point of becoming a control freak. Meanwhile your partner has become so used to you organizing everything they are oblivious to how things get done. This oblivious behaviour now confirms the view that the partner is lazy and hopeless at organizing anything.

Bingo we now have a relationship dynamic that is not healthy or positive for growth. So what can you do to change a non-healthy dynamic? Well first it requires self-reflection and a good honest chat on why the dynamic is not working. The problem is the problem and neither of you is the problem, is a good place to start.

Knowing you are a control freak is one thing you will know about yourself. Getting upset and anxious when things do not work out as you scheduled is a strong sign. This feeling can be exhausting and cause depression or anxiety. What about stepping back and seeing what happens when you don’t over plan things? Spontaneity is a wonderful thing and events happen that are never imagined.

To change the dynamic each partner is going to have to be conscious of changing the mental dynamic and response behaviour daily. That means the control freak does not jump in and find the solution immediately to fix an issue and the other partner takes a more pro-active role in getting things done.

If you both can do this mental change in the relationship dynamic you will witness a reduction of tension, the removal of anxiety, a closeness (lost over time) and a spurt of curiosity for new ways of doing things.

It is always interesting to me to hear the perception of a person who is a control freak, seeing themselves as caring and looking after people rather than controlling. And the person being controlled perceives himself or herself as useless but wanting a bigger voice on what happens in the relationship world.

There are many different types of unhealthy relationship dynamics that develop such as non listening, being defensive, laptop and mobile phone addiction, excessive criticism, etc.

However with understanding and a good tune up, relationships can become healthier and more joyful with a change in the fundamental dynamic. How exciting!

Gerry North is a couple counsellor and also treats anxiety, depression, sexual matters and addictions. Email; gerrynorthcounsellor@gmail.com M 0411 368 142

 

 

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.

 

5 Tips For Building a Loving Relationship

How many of us have learned how to build loving relationships? Here are 5 tips for building a loving relationship, especially handy when the love bubble bursts after the first 12 months or so.

 

1. Create a safe environment where you can trust and share openly without being afraid.

Don’t interrupt, even if you need to put your hand over your mouth to stop yourself. Learn to fight fairly. No name calling. Don’t make threats. Apologize when you know you should. If you’re too angry to really listen, stop! Go into another room, take space for yourself, breathe and “calm down.”

Remember: your partner is not the enemy.

 

2. Separate the facts from the feelings.

What beliefs and feelings get triggered in you during conflicts? Ask yourself: Is there something from my past that is influencing how I’m seeing the situation now? The critical question you want to ask: Is this about him or her, or is it really about me? What’s the real truth? Once you’re able to differentiate facts from feelings, you’ll see your partner more clearly and be able to resolve conflicts from clarity.

 

3. Ask questions when you’re unsure or are making assumptions.

All too often, we make up our own stories or interpretations about what our partners’ behavior means. For example: “He doesn’t want to cuddle; he must not really love me anymore.” We can never err on the side of asking too many questions, and then listen to the answers from your whole self — heart, gut, mind and body. Equally important is to hear what’s not being said — the facts and feeling that you sense might be unspoken.

 

4. Make time for your relationship.

No matter who you are or what your work is, you need to nurture your relationship. Make sure you schedule time for the well-being of your relationship. That includes making “playdates” and also taking downtime together. Frequently create a sacred space together by shutting off all things technological and digital. Like a garden, the more you tend to your relationship, the more it will grow.

 

5. Say the “hard things” from love.

Become aware of the hard things that you’re not talking about. Do you need to discuss your sex life? Have a jar that you put in important things to be discussed. How does that feel? No matter what you’re feeling in a situation, channel the energy of your emotions so that you say what you need to say in a constructive manner.

Try one of these every day and before you know it you will develop the skills of building a loving relationship.

Gerry North is a couples and general counsellor. Email: gerrynorthcounsellor@gmail.com

Attachment styles from childhood

Despite what some self-help or dating advice would lead you to believe, developing healthy emotional attachments with other people leads to greater happiness, productivity, and stability in one’s life. If your childhood was happy and supportive emotionally with parents you will develop a secure attachment style. If parents were critical you are likely to develop an anxious attachment style. If you parents were neglectful or abusive you are likely to develop an avoidant attachment style. Read on.

Attachment theory isn’t new, and its research is robust. It was developed in the 1950′s by psychologists John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth and has evolved and developed up until present day, encompassing the nature of relationships between family members, romantic interests and even friendships.

Your attachment strategy can probably explain a great deal of why your relationships have succeeded/failed in the manner they did, and perhaps why you’re here reading this right now.

Attachment Types

According to psychologists, there is FOUR attachment strategies people adopt: secure, anxious, avoidant, and anxious-avoidant.

Secure: People with secure attachment strategies are comfortable displaying interest and affection. They are also comfortable being alone and independent. Secure attachment types obviously make the best romantic partners, family members and even friends. They’re capable of accepting rejection and moving on despite the pain, but are also capable of being loyal and sacrificing when necessary. Secure attachment is developed in childhood by infants who regularly get their needs met, as well as receive ample quantities of love and affection.

Anxious: Anxious attachment types are often nervous and stressed about their relationships. They need reassurance and affection from their partner. They have trouble being alone or single. They’ll often succumb to unhealthy or abusive relationships. Women are more likely to be anxious types than men. Anxious attachment strategies are developed in childhood by infants who receive love and care with unpredictable sufficiency.

Avoidant: Avoidant attachment types are extremely independent, self-directed, and often uncomfortable with intimacy. They’re commitment-phobes and experts at rationalizing their way out of any intimate situation. They regularly complain about feeling “crowded” or “suffocated” when people try to get close to them. In every relationship, they always have an exit strategy. Always. And they often construct their lifestyle in such a way to avoid commitment or too much intimate contact. This is the guy who works 80 hours a week and gets annoyed when women he dates want to see him more than once on the weekend. Avoidant attachment strategy is developed in childhood by infants who only get some of their needs met while the rest are neglected (for instance, he/she gets fed regularly, but is not held enough).

Anxious-Avoidant: Anxious-avoidant attachment types (also known as the “fearful type”) bring together the worst of both worlds. Anxious-avoidants are not only afraid of intimacy and commitment, but they distrust and lash out emotionally at anyone who tries to get close to them. Anxious-avoidants often spend much of their time alone and miserable, or in abusive or dysfunctional relationships. According to studies, only a small percentage of the population qualifies as anxious-avoidant types, and they typically have a multitude of other emotional problems in other areas of their life (i.e., substance abuse, depression, etc.). Anxious-avoidant types develop from abusive or terribly negligent childhoods.

Relationship Configurations

Different attachment types tend to configure themselves into relationships in predictable ways. Secure types are capable of dating (or handling, depending on your perspective) both anxious and avoidant types. They’re comfortable enough with themselves to give anxious types all of the reassurance they need and to give avoidant types the space they need without feeling threatened themselves.

Anxious and avoidants frequently end up in relationships with one another, far more often than they end up in relationships with their own types. Avoidant types are so good at putting others off that often it’s only the anxious types who are willing to stick around and put in the extra effort to get them to open up. For instance, a man who is avoidant may be able to successfully shirk a secure woman’s pushes for increased intimacy. After which, the secure woman will accept the rejection and move on. But an anxious woman will only become more determined by a man who pushes her away. She’ll resort to calling him for weeks or months on end until he finally caves and commits to her. This gives the avoidant man the reassurance he needs that he can behave independently and the anxious woman will wait around for him. Often these relationships produce some magnitude of dysfunction as they fall into a pattern of chaser-chasee, which are both roles the anxious and avoidant types need in order to feel comfortable with intimacy.

Anxious-avoidants only date each other or the least secure of the anxious types or avoidant types. These relationships are very messy, if not downright abuse or negligent.

Knowing and Changing Your Attachment Type

If you don’t have an idea what your attachment style is yet and want to take a test, you can take this one.

If you’re constantly worrying about your partners, feel like they don’t like you as much as you like them, want to see them 24/7, need constant reassurance from them, then you’re probably anxious. If you’re comfortable dating people, being intimate with them and are able to draw clear boundaries in your relationships, but also don’t mind being alone, then you’re probably secure.

The good news is that your attachment style can change over time — although it’s slow and difficult.
Research shows that an anxious or avoidant who enters a long-term relationship with a secure, can be “raised up” to the level of the secure over an extended period of time. Unfortunately, an anxious or avoidant is also capable of “bringing down” a secure to their level of insecurity if they’re not careful.

Also, extreme negative life events, such a divorce, death of child, serious accident, etc., can cause a secure attachment type to fall into a more insecure attachment type.

For instance, a man may be more or less secure, get married to an anxious type, bring her up to a more secure level, but when they run into money trouble she falls back to her anxious level, cheats on him and then divorces him for all of his money, sending him into a tailspin of avoidance. He goes on to ignore intimacy and pump-and-dump women for the next 10 years, afraid to become intimate with any of them.

Secures exhibit both positive self-images and positive perceptions of others. Anxious types exhibit negative self-images, but positive perceptions of others (hence their needy behavior). Avoidants exhibit positive self-images and negative perceptions of others (hence their arrogance and fear of commitment), and anxious-avoidants exhibit negative perceptions of just about everything and everyone (hence their inability to function in relationships).

Using this model as a roadmap, one can begin to navigate oneself to a more secure attachment type.

Anxious types can work on developing themselves, creating healthy boundaries and fostering a healthy self-image. One of my most common pieces of dating advice is for men to find something they’re passionate about and good at and make that a focal point of their life rather than women.

Avoidant types can work on opening themselves up to others, and enrich their relationships through sharing themselves more. Another one of my most common pieces of advice to men is that it’s your responsibility to find something great in everyone you meet; it’s not their responsibility to show you. Become curious. Try not to be judgmental.