Updated: Jun 15
The coronavirus outbreak is leading to big changes in the way we live our everyday lives.
Our relationships are hugely important to us just at a time when they are being placed under the most intense pressure.
Relationships are not built on the expectation that you'll be spending all day, every day with that person.
If you’re both working from home, with nowhere to go in the evenings, there’s a chance you may experience some friction.
Perhaps it’s happening already? This is perfectly normal, particularly given the increased stress we’re all under right now.
But, as we could be in this predicament for a while yet, it’s worth taking some steps to ensure we get through this period with our relationships intact.
We may even come out the other side stronger!
Why relationships breakdown
American psychology researcher John Gottman proposed certain behaviours, or the "Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse", lead to dissolution in romantic relationships.
1. Criticism:- the first horseman is criticism
The behaviour is defined as an attack on your partner's character, as distinct from offering a critique or voicing a specific complaint. Criticism tends to include inflexible "always" and "never" statements such as you "always have to have the last word" or "you never listen".
2. Contempt:- The second horseman is contempt
This behaviour is defined as an insult to your partner. People might do this verbally using sarcasm, or simply by rolling their eyes. An example is when your partner is talking to you and you say " here we go again" without mindfully listening to what they are trying to say.
3. Defensiveness:- The third horseman is defensiveness
This behaviour is defined as a counter attack, most often in response to perceived criticism. People use this as a strategy to protect themselves when they are feeling victimised. They assign their partner responsibility for causing them pain.
4. Stonewalling:- The fourth horseman is stonewalling
This is defined as elaborate manoeuvres to avoid interacting with a partner. People who stonewall will often stop communicating with their partner, with the exception of negative non-verbal gestures.
People deal with stressful situations by rationalising the best way to protect themselves. This might mean pushing their partner away using one or all of the "four horsemen" behaviours.
Gottman estimated these behaviours are 90% accurate in predicting relationship dissolution if not addressed. In his research, couples exhibiting all four horsemen who divorced, did so after 5.6 years of marriage.
Most relationships undergo pressure at some point, whether through general stress, money concerns, lack of communication, children, infidelity, jealousy, tiredness, or through the many other insecurities we are inevitably prone to. In our day and age, the pressures of daily living are formidable and balancing a healthy private and work based life can lead to all kinds of tensions which damage relationships.
We fell in love
Remind yourself what it is about your partner that you fell in love with?
and what is it you love about them now?
We all have differences, what are the positive differences between you and your partner? maybe you have been too busy in your everyday lives to nurture these.
and now he/she annoys me
If you are constantly wanting to change aspects of your partner, you are in resistance to who they are at some level. They are triggering something inside you, a quality that you don't want to embrace, love or want to be. You try to push it away and not be that quality because you judge it as 'not good' or 'not appropriate'. Don't focus on trying to change them. What can you change in yourself that would make a difference?
Now more than ever we need to be consciously aware of what we are doing, how we respond and behaviours we may have to get what we want.
The number one agreement you need to make with yourself if you are to have a happy, healthy relationship over the long run is: I am fully responsible for the way I feel.
The more you fall in love and have no resistance with this part inside yourself, the less they will trigger you, or even show this part of themselves to you.
Who is responsible for what?
Being clear on who is responsible for what i.e. agreeing who is the leader on certain aspects of the household, takes responsibility for this and the timeframe that tasks are done and completed. Nagging often occurs when there is no agreement and clear areas of responsibility. Pose requests rather than demands; a request has no expectation of the outcome, you may pose it as a problem for your partner to solve and ask " How does that sound?" once completed you can show gratitude for the completion of the request, this shows support and nurtures the relationship. Instead of giving complements, give specific details of what you have appreciation for.
Clearly communicate what you want
Imagine when we are no longer socially isolating and restricting our distance travel. We finally can go and visit let's say parents or someone close to you who has know you all your life. You have been keeping in touch regularly with them whilst isolating.
You make the journey to visit them and are welcomed with open arms, Mum/Dad asks you if you want a cup of tea "Oh yes please" you reply. You go and sit on the balcony or another room. They don't want any help and you respect this as they're getting on, a bit frail and defiantly keeping their independence.
Out comes the tea. You are faced with a cup of tea with milk and sugar just as you have been drinking it all your life, until the last few months where you have discovered how nice tea is without milk and sugar. Just one of the many changes you've made during this period of lockdown. For those of you, like me, who have made this transition you are already feeling the sensations in your throat and stomach of having to drink a milky sugary tea.
So what do you do?
Do you force it down and feel disgusting or do you risk hurting your parents feelings, knowing that it took quite alot of effort to make that tea, they'll feel obliged to make another, or feel upset. Perhaps they start to worry that they made a mistake, had they forgotten, what else have they got not done? They feel bad, you feel bad.
After all you did get what you asked for, when you could easily have said "Oh yes please but I don't take milk and sugar any more." How simple would that have been?
If you don't clearly communicate what you want you'll get what you asked for!
Strategies to improve your relationship during isolation at home
Give these strategies a go: 1. Create the love with your differences
Be interested in your partner and the people around you and appreciate their special qualities. Write a list of the positive differences between you, what each of you are good at and what you like doing. It will help you to understand each other better. This can help you begin to appreciate each other again.
Remember two people with different strengths make a better team! 2. No criticisms/No put downs Lots of relationships are spoiled by repetitive negative behaviour such as nagging or criticism. A pattern begins to form so that as soon as one person does something or says something, the other responds negatively.
When niggles arise between you, one is criticising the other, or one is trying to control the other say something silly or funny. Your partner will be so taken aback, it will throw them, and may even make them laugh. But, most importantly, it will break any tension and lead to changing the habits of communication between you. Remember request not demand.
3. Cuddle time Make time for just having a cuddle with no expectation of anything further and enjoy the closeness. Partners are often distracted by what's going on around them - work, technology, sport, friends and family. Take the time.
4. Allow yours and others dreams Encourage your partner to fulfil their dreams and ask them to allow you to achieve yours, too. When you both feel free, you will both be happy!
5. Enjoy discussions rather than argue Many irritations in relationships are when one person thinks the other should be doing or seeing things their way. You can easily stand up for yourself by working on the way you approach conversations. For example say " We are both right and we are both wrong; we see things differently because we are people."
Turn irritating comments into humour – see the situation as a cartoon so that you can laugh at it.
6. Learn To Listen Love focussing on your partners strengths. Make a conscious effort to really listen to what your partner has to say.
7. Love What Is Actually Real Take control of your own happiness. Don’t set up your partner or others to fail by having expectations of them which are too high or how they should behave towards you. If there is something you want or need do/get it yourself instead of expecting others to read your mind or do it for you. How Hypnotherapy for Relationships Works Hypnosis can be used to change thinking patterns, behaviours and outcomes. Relationship hypnosis deals with the relationship you have with your partner.
Relationship hypnosis can help you: - Deal with negative emotions - Have much improved communications with the people around you - Recapture those feelings of love and romance - Build strong relationships towards a brighter future
You too can shift the dynamics of your relationship.
To help you further download this complimentary hypnosis recording Discover Happiness
Be free to enjoy a better relationship! Need a little more help, book a free discovery phone or video consultation with me at www.apthypnotherapy.com