FIX AND BUILD A STRONG HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP
A Definitive Guide for Couples
Expectations within relationships are higher than they’ve ever been. When only a few decades ago your partner was one to have children and manage a household with, each with their own separate chores. He had his responsibilities and she had hers. If you got on with one another, well that was just a bonus and if you were lucky enough to love each other, well you might as well have won the lottery. But these days, we share the responsibilities so much more for managing the family unit. Parties work together to raise the children, to provide for the family financially and most of the big decisions are made together. There is an expectation that your partner is your best friend, your counsellor, your business partner, your lover and responsible for the state of your emotional welfare. Although the benefits from this new relationship template can be potentially more rewarding than ever, the pressures to meet expectations and collaborate effectively can at times be too much to bare.
“Although the benefits from this new relationship template can be potentially more rewarding than ever, the pressures to meet expectations and collaborate effectively can at times be too much to bare.”
Given that success within modern relationships relies so heavily on working as a team with your partner, this Definitive Guide will teach you how to understand where your partner is coming from and how to communicate more effectively with your partner, so that you can fix your broken relationship and build a strong one for the future.
CREATING UNDERSTANDING IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP
HOW CAN I UNDERSTAND MYSELF BETTER IN MY RELATIONSHIP?
From my experience, the most successful people in relationships are those that know themselves well. So, when something goes wrong, they know what’s triggered it, know the outcome they want to achieve from any dispute and can then communicate this to their partner in order to offer greater understanding between the couple. They will also know what to do for themselves to achieve a resolution. This may be changing a belief, managing an emotion, or seeing the situation from a different perspective. Knowing yourself well means you know what your values are, your beliefs and your identity. It’s useful also to know what your needs are. Tony Robbins identified the six core needs of humans to be:
1. Certainty (comfort, safety, stability, security, protection)
2. Uncertainty (variety, adventure, fun, fear, change, entertainment, surprise, crisis, drama)
3. Significance (pride, importance, standards, achievement, performance, perfection, discipline, competition)
4. Love and connection (insignificance, passion, unity, warmth, tenderness, desire, togetherness)
Everyone has all of these needs but one or two are usually more dominant than the others. What do you think your primary needs are? How about your partner’s?
“People who know themselves well tend to be more secure in themselves because there’s less fear around ‘how am I going to deal with this?’.”
People who know themselves well tend to be more secure in themselves because there’s less fear around ‘how am I going to deal with this?’. This is really important when it comes to relationships because they are able to see the real issue and address it, rather than constantly trying to make themselves right or defending their position. They tend to fight for the relationship rather than for themselves.
MY PARTNER DOESN’T UNDERSTAND ME, HOW CAN I BE HEARD BY THEM?
It can be so frustrating when you tell your partner something over and over again and they never seem to get the message. For some of us it’s years and sometimes we find it easier to just give up and resign ourselves to the fact that they’ll never understand us the way we want them to.
Men and women will never truly be able to understand one another because we’re built differently. One of the significant biological differences that hinders us from understanding each other is that women have more neurons connecting the left and right hemispheres of the brain, which leads to women being able to perceive greater connection between the analytical and intuitive. Men are less able to see this.
Despite this significant difference, from my experience, if a couple understands and then acts on the needs of their partner, an understanding at this analytical/intuitive level isn’t needed. Many women will say “Oh, he just doesn’t get me!” For a woman whose needs aren’t met, she will find this completely frustrating, but once her partner meets her needs she’ll still know he doesn’t get her, but it will be cause for humour rather than frustration.
This is why it’s so important to first, understand your needs, and then communicate them to your partner. Remember though, it may take time for your partner to implement the changes, so be patient. And most importantly, you must get to know your partner’s need and satisfy them. Have a conversation, figure out each other’s primary core needs and how you each want them to be satisfied. Include in your chat how you feel when they’re not met and how you will feel once they are.
“Remember though, it may take time for your partner to implement the changes, so be patient.”
HOW CAN I UNDERSTAND MY PARTNER’S NEED BETTER?
We’ve just explored the core human needs and how you can talk to your partner in order to deepen your understanding of one another’s needs, but what if your partner’s not really a talker? How can you learn how to make your partner happy?
I mentioned earlier that everyone has all six needs but two are more important. Think about the really important things in their life. Where do they gain most of their pleasure? For example, if you find your partner doesn’t adapt well to change, loves to just be at home and isn’t especially adventuresome, they may have a high need for certainty. If they love to have fun, travel a lot and switch jobs often, they probably crave high levels of uncertainty. If they love to spend their spare time with friends and family, they value love and connection and if they work really hard they probably crave significance.
UNDERSTANDING EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS IN MEN AND WOMEN
“It’s not what we say in relationships that causes the issues, it’s the emotions that are triggered by what we say.”
It’s not what we say in relationships that causes the issues, it’s the emotions that are triggered by what we say. Generally speaking, men and women have different emotional triggers because they have different needs. Even when we’re not trying to push our partner’s buttons we often do by mistake because we say something that wouldn’t push our own, only to find it has the opposite effect on them. More men than women have a deep need for significance. If his partner says something to threaten that or take it away, she will probably trigger anger or withdrawal in him. Men also have a great need to provide security to their family, so again, if this is challenged, flames may spark. Men also have a great need to be appreciated. So, if you fail to acknowledge him or take him for granted, consider the trigger pulled.
Women, on the other hand, have a great need to be understood. As we’ve already seen this may not always be possible, but if a man doesn’t make a real effort to sit down and listen to his woman often, this will trigger feelings of being unloved. A woman tends to have greater needs for love and connection than men. So, if a man doesn’t make the time for this his woman may have feelings of not being enough which may ripple detrimental effects through their relationship.
IMPROVING COMMUNICATION IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP
HOW CAN WE IMPROVE COMMUNICATION?
If you’re reading this, chances are you and your partner struggle to communicate with one another effectively. This may be because big emotions get in the way. Things could go one of two ways. You could either have a shouting match till you’re both red in the face and exhausted, or you may retreat and withdraw from each other. Shouting is great in that it channels the angry energy and offers it a release, whereas withdrawal often leads to the suppression of emotion. Anger though may be responsible for some words that can never be taken back. In either case though, the presenting issue is not being resolved, providing the opportunity to end up right back where you started.
“The trick is to actually recognise that there are three parties here – you, your partner and the relationship.”
The key to great communication isn’t actually in managing the big emotions in order to get to a place of peace where you can talk it out. The key is to avoid the emotions in the first place. How on earth do you do this? The trick is to actually recognise that there are three parties here – you, your partner and the relationship. While you’re busy protecting your own back, where does that leave your relationship? Once you and your partner acknowledge that if the relationship’s got what it needs, then the pair of you will be ok and communication will completely change – for the better.
So, what on earth are the needs of a relationship?? Well it’s different for everyone. And I strongly encourage you and your partner to sit down and figure it out. When you do this, take some time to reflect on times when your relationship was at its best, and its worst, and try to establish what the underlying cause of this was. I think what you’ll find is that a relationship wants both people involved to feel supportive and supported, to feel understood and to want to understand, to be grateful and to appreciate. A relationship wants to make the parties involved feel capable of so much more than they would if they weren’t in the relationship.
When you come from this place, the ego isn’t given a voice and you’ll find joy in serving and loving your partner. If you feel your partner can’t understand this just yet, demonstrate to them that it’s possible. They may resist for a while, this is to be expected, but eventually they’ll come around if you stick to your guns.
Eventually, and naturally, communication will be easy and effortless.
HOW TO MANAGE AND RESOLVE CONFLICTS AND DISAGREEMENTS
Almost all conflicts and disagreements within relationships are caused by one or all of the following:
· Not having clear goals or direction for the relationship
· Partners not understanding one another’s personal goals and how the relationship is required to support them
· Partners not understanding one another’s expectations of the relationship or each other
When you find yourself in conflict with your partner, and after you’ve calmed down (resolution is nearly impossible when you’re operating from anger or resentment) you need to talk about it in a constructive way. Avoid pointing fingers or bringing up poor past behaviour. Put your ego aside, commit to working as a team and figure out what’s actually going on. Firstly, define the problem. For example, she asked him to join her at a work function and he pulled out at the last minute. This is really important because if you muddle the issues up, it’s hard to find a clear solution. Next, figure out what went wrong? She had an expectation that if he went to the function that would show his love for her and that some quality time together would be good for them. He knows he loves her and shows her in other ways, so thought that staying back at work and earning a few extra dollars to cover the Christmas period was more important. (If you realise that it was your own selfishness that caused the dispute, I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to admit this. Believe it or not, this will actually engender trust in your partner.) Next, it’s important to acknowledge the misunderstanding and realise that both of you were doing what you thought was best for the relationship. Finally, resolution lies in acknowledgment and the expression of love so that you can move forward together. She might say “I appreciate you working hard so that Christmas is easier for us” and he could say “I’m sorry I wasn’t there, I really do love you, how about we go out for breakfast on the weekend.”
This seems like a pretty simple process, and it can be if you take each issue individually and work through them one at a time so that they don’t build up. Be wary of other issues coming into your discussions, once you identify one, write it down and come back to it later.
For couples with years of issues built up, this may be an arduous process but if you stick with it and commit to a positive outcome for everyone, it will become easier and easier.
5 “GOOD” WAYS TO FIGHT
Sometimes fighting is inevitable, but if you can use the fire in a constructive way, it might actually be possible to create some good from fighting. So, when you’re having a fight, make sure it follows at least one if not all of the following guidelines:
1. Be honest, don’t just say what you think the other person wants to hear, or doesn’t want to hear as the case may be. Remember it’s not about winning the argument, it’s about finding a solution that suits you both, and you can only do this if you’re being honest.
2. Don’t personally attack or blame your partner. Remember that you’re a team. If you need to get angry at something, abuse the situation instead.
3. Don’t make assumptions or try to read your partner’s mind. Instead, listen to them in order to achieve a deeper understanding.
4. Stay focused on the topic at hand, don’t bring up old arguments, otherwise it gets confusing and you’ll be less likely to achieve a clear outcome. Instead, park them and have one fight at a time.
5. Agree that if you can’t find a resolution that you will seek professional help, rather than letting it get in the way of your valuable relationship.
DISCUSSING ISSUES AROUND RAISING OUR KIDS
Many couples come in to conflict with one another over the right way to raise their kids. Given that opposites attract, it’s understandable that two parents see a situation with their child differently to one another.
When you do find yourself disagreeing with your partner in relation to your child it’s important to always put your child’s needs first and be committed to finding a solution that is best for them. Throughout your discussion keep asking “Is this best for this particular child?” Seek to understand where your partner is coming from because you may not have considered their point of view before and it may just be the key to solving the problem. Remain open to having your partner point out why they think your point of view isn’t applicable, after all, you don’t want to hold onto an opinion for the sake of an argument. You actually want the best for your child.
“Given that opposites attract, it’s understandable that two parents see a situation with their child differently to one another.”
It’s very easy to prioritise what we think would have been best for us in the same situation, or what our parents would have done, or even what we might have done previously for the child’s older sibling in the same scenario. Everyone has different personalities, different needs, different past experiences, a different environment, a different support structure and therefore decisions need to be made independently based on these factors.
Once you’ve looked at all these elements, and you still don’t have a resolution, the internet is a great place to find answers. Just type into google what the issue is and read, read, read. It might be “my child had an argument with her best friend and I don’t know what to do” or “my child’s teacher passed away, how do I help my child understand what’s happened?” Other people’s experiences can be a huge support during these challenges.
If the child is old enough, it’s really important to involve them in the resolution process. Hear what their side of the story is and what feelings they are experiencing. While you listen, remain supportive, empathetic and understanding. You never know, this may provide the means by which your child comes to a resolution themselves.
RESOLVING COMMON ISSUES
HOW CAN I FIGHT LESS OR STOP FIGHTING WITH MY PARTNER?
No one really likes to fight in a relationship. It can lead to anxiety, tension, doubt in your relationship, the inability to achieve common goals and feelings of lost love for your partner. Fighting can be caused by poor communication, busy stressful lives and the failure to address issues within your relationship as a team.
“Fighting can be caused by poor communication, busy stressful lives and the failure to address issues within your relationship as a team.”
How do you move from being a couple that fights regularly to on that uses more effective means of resolution, or even removing the need for resolution in the first place? Firstly, it’s important to make a commitment to change. If you make a promise to find a new way you’re more likely to persist even if it doesn’t come easily. In the short term, prior to being able to implement the long-term changes, remember how to put out the fires. Before fighting, stop. Talk it through only once you’ve both calmed down and if things heat up again, stop again. Remember to listen and see things from your partner’s perspective.
In order to reduce the fighting or eliminate it altogether will require a commitment to understanding one another. You must talk through problems as they arise, before they build to an explosion. If you come to these discussions with an open mind, it’s a great opportunity to learn more about your partner. It’s really important also to write long-term goals for yourselves as a couple and begin to work towards them. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and the team effort will prove to you that you can resolve problems together.
If your partner isn’t on board with the changes, that’s ok. So long as you persist and keep trying new ways, your partner will eventually come onboard.
MY WORKLOAD IN OUR RELATIONSHIP IS UNFAIR
It’s not uncommon for one partner to feel as though they do more within the relationship than their partner. This may be in relation to the household duties, income earned, perhaps its regarding the parenting or it could even be the effort put into maintaining and deepening the relationship. In order to address this concern, many people tend to keep score – “I did this, this and this and you only did that!” If you want your relationship to be fairer, you have to stop keeping score. Relationships, after all, are about giving. What if you saw things differently? What if you saw them in relation to what you’re able to give to the relationship? Perhaps you’d like to write down what you feel you bring to the relationship, and the things your partner brings. You may find that although you’re doing a greater number of things, their things are invaluable to the relationship. And what if your partner were to take on some of your tasks? Would they do them as well as you?
If you find that you’re still overwhelmed by what you perceive you have to do, tell them! But don’t blame them. After all, you’ve been doing it up to this point, they probably assume you’re okay with it.
“You may find that although you’re doing a greater number of things, their things are invaluable to the relationship.”
So, say something like this “I know I’ve been doing (insert task) for a while now, and it’s really important that it keeps getting done, but I’m really struggling with the load at the moment and was wondering if there was a way you might be able to help me with it?” If you make it about you, and not about them, they’re much more likely to be understanding and happy to help.
MY PARTNER IS LAZY
There are a few reasons why you might find your partner lazy, and it depends on what the reason is as to what you’re going to do about it. Have they always been lazy or is this a new thing? Is this perhaps a trait you used to see as ‘chilled out’ or ‘relaxed’ and now just find it frustrating? If that’s the case it may be time to decide whether you can find a way to accept it or move on. Maybe they’re feeling directionless and need a change to re-inspire them. If this is the case, find a way to encourage them to pursue their dreams, even if this means you have to make some sacrifices. Are they unwell? Get them to see a doctor. Perhaps their feeling depressed, unloved or unsupported. If so, take some action to make them feel as though they’re your number one and you couldn’t live without them.
Of course, another option that always open to you is to talk to them about it. Express how you feel about their habits, how it affects your day to day life and what you can do to help them overcome their laziness – if they want to of course.
I’M FEELING VULNERABLE IN MY RELATIONSHIP
Before deciding what you’re going to do if you feel vulnerable in your relationship, you need to establish where the vulnerability is coming from. Is it your own inner vulnerability or are you actually in danger from your partner?
If it’s your own inner vulnerability this may point to a need for some self-esteem work or perhaps it’s due to a bad experience in the past that you’ve brought into this relationship. If either of these issues are the case, it might be best to seek professional assistance to overcome these barriers to a fulfilling relationship.
If you feel that the vulnerability is coming from an external force, (from your partner), you will need to establish whether they’re doing it absent-mindedly perhaps based on negative experiences of their own, or whether they have power issues and do actually seek to make you feel weak in order to build themselves up and have control over the situation. If they’re not doing it intentionally and you feel as though they really are committed to the relationship and have similar values to you, you should discuss it with them. They may be grateful for the heads up and seek to change their behaviour. If they seem to be malicious you may want to re-consider whether this relationship is right for you.
HOW CAN I IMPROVE OUR SEX LIFE AND INTIMACY?
It’s been said that for a woman to have sex she needs a reason, but a man just needs a place! This is because it’s the man’s job to just spread his seed and she’s supposed to be the picky one to make sure it’s only the quality seed that grown. A woman is also at a higher risk of feeling vulnerable because she’s generally less strong than a man, so she must feel safe and protected before being intimate.
Re-vitalising your intimacy and sex life isn’t something that can happen overnight. It’s something that once changes are implemented and maintained, will naturally grow over time.
“It’s been said that for a woman to have sex she needs a reason, but a man just needs a place!”
In order to nurture the intimacy in your relationship, consider implementing some of the following changes into your relationship:
· Start with self, reduce your stress and work on your confidence
· Improve communication between you and your partner, talk more frequently, more honestly and about more relevant things that affect your relationship
· Get physical by touching and hugging more, holding hands and kissing more
· Send random “I’m thinking of you” texts regularly or write love notes
· Bring little “I’m thinking of you” gifts home (you don’t have to spend heaps of money)
· Surprise your partner by doing things for them that they usually do (like emptying the dishwasher, washing the car, making their coffee, taking the rubbish out if that’s not usually your job)
· Compliment your partner more, preferably not on physical elements but on their personality
· Prioritise spending more time together, doing different things if possible
HOW CAN I WIN BACK MY PARTNER’S LOVE?
If you’ve done something to lose your partner’s love, whether you cheated on them or simply failed to give them the attention and love they needed, it’s not too late to win back their love. But before we explore how, I want you to really think about whether you want their love back. Chances are they’re hurting in one way or another, and if you get them back on board, only to change your mind again, well that’s just cruel. So, make sure you’re 100% committed to a long-term relationship with this person. On the other hand, if you feel you did everything right and they’re the one that lost interest and walked away, make sure they’re really worth the effort before putting your time and energy into pursuing something that probably wasn’t going to work in the first place.
The steps you need to take to win back your partner are much like those that you need to increase intimacy as explored above, with a few extra things thrown in. In addition to the above list you will need to:
· Ask your partner for forgiveness, even if you didn’t intend to do anything wrong, you managed to let their love slip away by neglecting their needs
· Ask your partner what they need from you in order to strengthen things between you
· Do as much as you possibly can to show your love to your partner and to ensure they get the message that you’re serious, following the love languages, below
· Be honest about how you feel and why you let things go the way they did
“Once we can understand and communicate in the other person’s language this enables the people in the relationship to get the most out of it.”
People both express and understand love in different ways. In many circumstances people in relationships aren’t using the same language to express their love for one another. This can lead to doubt about the relationship, misunderstandings and a lack of trust, where there really is no need for it. Once we can understand and communicate in the other person’s language this enables the people in the relationship to get the most out of it. The 5 Love Languages are:
· physical touch – including hugging, kissing, tickling, tackling
· words of affirmation – not just ‘I love you’ but also compliments
· gifts – doesn’t have to be expensive, just something to signify that you’re thinking of them
· acts of service – doing them favours that they didn’t ask you to do
· quality time – uninterrupted time together that is focused purely on them
HOW CAN I LOVE MY PARTNER AGAIN?
If you find yourself asking this question, there’s obviously love still there, you’re just having trouble expressing it for one reason or another.
It may be that you don’t trust them anymore. If they have done something to betray you and you have decided to forgive them and move on, this will require a lot of open communication between you. There will be moments where you feel the doubt and anger creeping back but if you can be honest with your partner about these moments and work through them together you’re bound to find the love again.
Perhaps you’re scared to keep loving them due to a past relationship experience. If this is the case, you will need to decide whether you’re going to let your past experiences affect your happiness. If you’re having trouble getting past the fear, you may choose to engage professional help.
There’s also a chance that you’re having trouble loving yourself, and therefore it’s a challenge to love another. If this is true for you then you will need to work on your own self-esteem before finding ways to love another. If your partner loves you too, they will support you through this process.
Maybe your lives have just become so busy that you haven’t worked on your relationship enough and the love has just faded. It’s time you prioritised time together, getting to know and understand and appreciate each other once again. You may start by re-creating some of the dates you had together when you first met. This will stimulate anchored feelings of romance and excitement.
HOW CAN I PREVENT SEPARATION OR DIVORCE?
If you’re in a relationship that seems to be falling apart around you and you’re the only one who seems to want to prevent its ultimate destruction, don’t worry, it’s never too late to save it and yes, you can do it alone!
The main reasons why relationships fail is because the needs of either one or both people aren’t satisfied. Let’s take a moment to remember the 6 Core needs – certainty, variety, significance, love and connection, contribution and growth. Within a relationship, when you satisfy two of the needs of the other person you have a connection, if you satisfy 4 you have a strong attachment and if you satisfy all six you are permanently bonded.
“Within a relationship, when you satisfy two of the needs of the other person you have a connection, if you satisfy 4 you have a strong attachment and if you satisfy all six you are permanently bonded.”
So, if you want to save your marriage or relationship, set about satisfying all six needs for your partner and they’ll have no more need to go anywhere else. Remember, everyone has two needs that are greater than the others, so focus on these the most. If you’re not sure what they are, you can test them by only satisfying one need for a few days and see the response, then satisfy another for a few days until they’re all done. The need or needs that get the most gratitude will be their main ones.
Also, remember, when you’re satisfying their need for love and connection, that people can have one of 5 different love languages – physical touch, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service and quality time.
HOW TO DECIDE WHETHER WE SHOULD SEPARATE
The truth is that if one person in the relationship want to end it, it’s done. But if there’s a part of both of you that doesn’t want to let go, even if there’s a whole lot of you that does, it’s worth exploring both sides. Before you decide whether to give it up altogether, there’s certain things you need to talk about. Try to come from the part of you that’s been a team in the past. Consider it two doctors coming together to see if the patient (the relationship) is going to make it. Before you do this, you must make a commitment to trying your very best and this may mean putting other areas of your life on hold while you work through this. Here’s some things to consider:
· Do your individual life long goals enable your partner to fulfill theirs?
· Do you have shared values?
· Have you understood your partner’s love language and used it to communicate with them?
· Have you understood your partner’s core needs and satisfied them?
· Do you have things in common?
· Do you want to be together? Can you imagine the rest of your life with this person?
· Are you only staying in the relationship because you fear what might await you outside of the relationship?
· What would life look like if you did separate?
· What would life look like if you didn’t separate?
· What wouldn’t life look like if you did separate?
· What wouldn’t life look like if you didn’t separate?
· If you decided to stay together, what changes are you committed to implementing?
If you’ve been through this process and things still aren’t working, it might be time to bite the bullet.
RELATIONSHIP COACHING FOR COUPLES
Relationship coaching is great for couples who either:
· Have a great relationship but have a few niggling issues to iron out or just want to take it to the next level
· Have huge issues and are committed to learning about how to overcome them in order to create a great relationship
· Are considering separation or divorce and just want to give it one last chance
· Have decided to separate or divorce and want to find a way to get on in the future for the kids or anyone else involved
Relationship coaching help to discover:
· The biggest issues that are preventing you from having an extraordinary relationship
· How to find your common values
· How to create goals together
· Your partner’s and your love language
· Your partner’s and your core needs
· Your partner’s and your behavioural orientation
· How to improve communication within your relationship
· How to bring back the spark and the fun together
I really hope that this book has given you a starting point to understand your partner better, get a clearer picture of what you want your relationship to be like and find within yourself the tools to set you in the right direction. If you want to take the next step, simply book a FREE one-hour consultation with me where we can discuss how I can assist you personally in Fixing and Building a Strong Healthy Relationship. And remember, if your partner isn’t on board yet, that’s ok, in the consult I’ll teach you how you can make positive changes on your own for you both.