Today, 6 January 2020 is also known as Divorce Monday. This is due to the surge in numbers of couples contacting solicitors to begin divorce proceedings after the Christmas holidays. Sometimes the stress of trying to create the ‘perfect’ Christmas and spending all that time together can bring relationships which were already struggling to crisis point. Also, the approach of a new year can get couples thinking about making a new start rather than trying to work on the relationship they have.
So, is a breakup the only option or is it possible to get your relationship back on track?
If you’re in this position, then ask yourself these questions.
Do I still love my partner?
Do I want this relationship to work?
Does my partner feel the same?
If the answer is yes and your partner is of the same mind, then maybe you can consider committing to do some serious work on your relationship. And if your partner doesn’t want to commit to the work? Although not ideal, it is still possible to work on yourself. Any changes you make to yourself can potentially influence your partner’s behaviour and your shared relationship.
Recognising the problem, understanding what is going wrong and why are the first steps to finding positive solutions.
One of my clients came to me because she felt her relationship wasn’t really working for her, but her partner felt things were ok. When she tried to talk to him about how she was feeling the conversation generally escalated into an argument. She felt misunderstood and that it was almost impossible to communicate in a constructive way so that they could find a resolution to their problems. During their arguments they tended to try to dominate or blame each other. She walked away feeling inadequate and then became cold and withdrawn with her partner. She had recognised that there was a problem and came to me for coaching.
Through our work together my client discovered that she had a fixed idea in her head of what the relationship ‘should’ look like. Painfully, she came to realise that it wasn’t a realistic picture but a fantasy that she had built up based on her emotional needs. It was an idealised image and she had set herself up for disappointment. Not only that but as she strove to change her partner into her idealised image he felt as though he could never live up to her expectations. Their relationship had become imbalanced, they weren’t communicating effectively, and they had stopped working as a team.
During our coaching sessions we explored what emotional needs she might have that weren’t being met within the relationship. Once she started to understand her relationship style and what her needs were, we worked on how and where she could get these met. We also looked at how to communicate with her partner in a non-confrontational way. In addition, she spent time to understand his needs. By working as a team, understanding and being willing to work on meeting each other’s needs the relationship began to flourish again.
If you’re struggling in your relationship, what can you do to help yourself?
Commit to a certain amount of time that you are both willing to work on the relationship and stick to it.
Take some time to get to know yourself and what you need out of the relationship, for example conversation, intimate connection, reassurance, understanding. Try not to judge yourself but do some honest soul searching. If you’re trying to change your partner to fit in with your idea of the perfect relationship, this will give you a clue as to what your needs are. What would that relationship be giving you?
Pick a time when you’re both feeling relaxed and try sharing your discoveries with your partner and encourage your partner to do the same. Is your partner willing and able to meet your needs? Are you willing to meet his? Actively listen to what your partner has to say without criticism or judgement if you can.
Express the positive things about your relationship, try not to concentrate only on what is going wrong.
If you’re still struggling or if you just want to delve deeper contact me to find out about my new introductory programme – Relationship Reboot.