Have you recently wanted to tell your partner something but decided not to because you were too afraid that it would hurt your partner’s feelings?
Often times, couples are afraid to open up to their partners and say what they really need because they are worried about hurting their partner’s feelings and rocking the boat while simultaneously suppressing their own voice and their true inner needs. This leads to a disconnection in knowing more about each other’s inner worlds and a missed opportunity for the other partner to listen and be supportive. When this occurs consistently overtime, one partner’s will feel that his/her needs are not met ending up in arguments and conflicts.
Try this activity next time you want to express your needs:
First, set some ground rules before you start. This is extremely crucial to having a conversation about what you want to discuss so that your partner understands that he/she needs to become an active listener. Make sure you and your partner refrain from any judgment, blame, contempt or criticisms and to just become all ears for you while you express your needs.
By using “I-statements”, your partner will feel less confronted/attacked. The finger-pointing behavior is taken away and your partner will be more willing to listen.
Identify what it is that you feel and what it is that you need. For example,
“I feel _______.” (angry, upset, lost, overwhelmed, insecure, etc.)
“I need _________.” (to be alone, someone to listen to me rant, your guidance a hug, space.)
Here is an example of what that conversation might look like:
“Honey, lately I’ve been feeling really overwhelmed and worried about family, work and life balance. I appreciate your support and time given to me but I also need some space and time alone to re-balance myself.”
What are your needs? What do you need from your partner today?
A healthy relationship starts by being able to express yourself to your partner without feeling criticized, blamed or judged. Learning the skills in communicating effectively with your partner is essential and crucial to building a strong relationship foundation. A counsellor can help couples learn how to become active listeners and effective communicators.
Sometimes, despite our own /our partner’s best efforts and intentions, we find ourselves hurting or being hurt by our partners.
We may find that even though the content of the argument changes, the feelings we come away with are the same ones of pain, confusion, and disappointment.
This is because over time, couples develop a particular cycle or pattern of interaction. When these cycles of interaction are going well, we can feel exhilarated, as if we’re on top of the world, able to face anyone and achieve anything. However, when they’re not going well, we can feel completely debilitated.
Without consciously stopping to notice and attend to our relationships, we can get stuck in a pattern of interaction that leads to conflict, unhappiness, and relationship doubt.
Couples therapy can be one of the most rewarding experiences. It can help you understand and change your relational patterns and promote the strengths of your relationship. It’s also a place where you can connect deeply with your partner, improve emotional and physical intimacy, learn about your desires, needs, and how to communicate them.
Couples counseling can teach you to:
- Create positive relational patterns
- Communicate more effectively and express your needs and desires
- Work through differences and disagreements
- Create safety to be authentic and honest
- Relate in healthier, more loving ways
- Forgive, let go of the past and make space for something new
Hong Kong is an amazing city, filled with talented people and fantastic opportunities. High pressure jobs require high pressure performance. In the beginning this is invigorating; however, over time the endless demands become wearing. Whether you are the trailing spouse or the traveling spouse, marriages can become stretched and strained.
Dr. John Gottman in his years of research reported that the average couple waits six years before getting help for their marriage. This is a long time to limp along. If it were a physical limp you would take action and get help as needed. So why not get help with your marriage? Marriage counseling can be the best thing you could do for yourself, your relationship, your family, your health and your career.
In marriage counseling you can learn:
- to fight fair
- to communicate
- to listen
- to address the strains of parenthood
- new skills and models
- how to be assertive
- the value of the ‘we’ and the ‘I’
- how to apologize
- how to love
- how to resolve conflict
- how to affair proof your relationship
- more about yourself
Marriage counseling provides both time and space to work through some issues in a safe environment.
Everything worth having costs something. So whether you are newly married or have been married for years, consider giving your marriage a ‘tune up.’ For some, marriage counseling can be the start of a ‘second marriage.’ It can provide new ways of relating that will enable you to go the distance, maybe even with a skip in your step.