Tag Archives: marriage

How to progress to the next step after your first date?

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How to progress to a healthy relationship after your first date?

Wow, you have finally met “the one” or “soul mate” – you are excited and nervous, what’s next? But as everyone who has ever been in a relationship knows that it takes more than chemistry, GSOH etc… to make a relationship progress to the next stage of commitment.

* First Date
You went out on your first date and had a great time. You felt that you have many shared interests, same sense of humour and definitely some attraction. Good start but remember to slow down!

While it’s good to be open, but to disclose too much about yourself, past relationships and what you are looking for too soon can be overwhelming for your potential partner and can be a major turnoff.

You can’t rush a relationship just because you are ready to commit. Let the relationship develop at its own pace, so that a solid foundation for friendship and trust can be established.

* Being a Couple
Once you have acknowledged mutual interest and ready to progress to the next phase of your relationship – being a couple; you can then self-disclose more; discuss your physical and emotional needs and your dreams and expectations etc…

Here are some tips on how to grow your relationship successfully:
1. Make time for each other – relationship is like a living plant, it requires tender loving care to grow and blossom. Show your partner how important they are to you by making time to connect and spending time together.

2. Establish clear boundaries and expectations – your partner is not a clairvoyant! Be clear about what is and is not acceptable in your relationship. Check out each other’s expectations, how realistic are they? What can each of you compromise on and be happy with the decision?

3. Don’t take your partner for granted – it’s easy to let yourself slip into the complacent zone once you have settled into coupledom and you stop making each other feel special and important. Acknowledge your partner verbally or with eye contact when they are speaking; let your partner know that you appreciate the small things they do each day for you; and be considerate to one another.

4. Inflexible expectations– of course there will be some adjustments in a new relationship, compromises and changes may be required from both parties. However if you are inflexible in your expectations of your partner/relationship and you think that it’s his/her job to make you happy/fulfilled or that you can change him/her, you will create resentment / disappointment in your relationship sooner or later.

5. Giving each other space – everyone needs space to recharge their energy or just some alone time. A healthy relationship is knowing that togetherness does not mean you have to lose your individuality/independence.

6. Don’t stop being you – you don’t have to let go of your friendships, interests and hobbies just because you are in a relationship. It’s important to maintain your sense of self and not become too reliant on your partner.

Codependent Relationship

Couple
What is a Codependent Relationship?

Codependency can occur in any type of relationship, including romantic, peer, family, friendship and work. There is a clear distinction between thoughtful, caring, loving behaviour or feelings that are normal and healthy to those that are excessive to an unhealthy degree by putting other people ahead of yourselves.

A healthy relationship is ‘inter-dependent’ – when partners take care of themselves and each other. A mutually satisfying relationship is where people give,receive and rely on each other equally. Of course, there will be times when one person will carry a bigger load but overall all parties contribute equally to the relationship.

A codependent relationship occurs when personal boundaries between individuals are broken, unhealthy or don’t exist. Codependent people focus on pleasing and accommodating others instead of focusing on themselves. They have a diffuse sense of self, characterised by denial, low self-esteem, excessive compliance or control patterns.

Codependent people are constantly in search of acceptance; they like to feel they are “needed”. They often find themselves in relationships where their primary role is that of a rescuer, supporter and confidante. They often depend on the other person’s poor functioning to satisfy their own emotional needs.

Codependent relationships are fraught with resentment, anger, criticism and pain. Here are some signs of a codependent relationship:

1. You minimise your needs and preferences.

2. You enable the other person’s unhealthy behaviour and they enable yours.

3. You feel guilty when asserting yourself.

4. Your mood and self-respect are dictated by the other person’s mood and behaviour.

5. You feel devalued or disrespected by the other person.

6. You tolerate mistreatment or abuse from the other person because you love them too much. You feel frustrated / angry but you don’t speak up. Instead you rationalise your behaviour between fights or flight; keeping your feelings to yourself.

7. You repeatedly tell yourself that if you hang on long enough, the other person will change, see the light, and finally love you the way you deserve. You tell yourself that it will be worth it at the end but in the meantime you are living in hell.

8. You feel as if you can never stop the other person from hurting you but you put up with this treatment because you think that you might even deserve it. You are in denial of the bad times and hope that the good times will make them go away, which won’t happen

9. You have mixed feelings about the person on a regular basis. You simultaneously love and hate them. Or you feel empowered yet disempowered by the relationship.

10. You’re depressed or sad for no reason. You cry uncontrollably for no reason. You have gotten so out of touch with your emotions that you can’t identify your feelings anymore.

11. You feel ashamed and embarrassed about what’s really going on in your relationship.

12. You start to develop addictions that you did not have before.

A codependent relationship can impact on your identity and well being and have an unhealthy short-term and long term consequences. By giving up your own needs to over cater the needs of the other person can result in you being burned out, exhausted, resentful and neglectful of other important relationships.

Recovering from codependency requires you to examine the way you see yourself, how you value yourself and how you respond when others treat you with disrespect. You can start your codependency recovery by setting clear boundaries about what is acceptable to you; communicating respectfully and effectively about your feelings and expectations of your relationship to the other person. Find happiness as an individual.

Healthy relationships involve speaking your truth, being vulnerable, asking for help and receiving support.

For further reading: Codependent No More by Melody Beattie and Facing Codependence by Pia Melody.

How Do You Know Your Relationship Is In Trouble?

How Do You Know Your Relationship is in Trouble?

While no relationship is perfect and couples can expect to have their fair share of conflicts, however it’s how you resolve conflicts that matters. If issues are not resolved properly, they become insurmountable and resentment can build up over time. Here are some warning signs signalling your relationship is in trouble:

Arguments do not get resolved. Most couples have issues that can be resolved over time as their relationship develops, but when key issues are not resolved and they keep re-surfacing – then your relationship will struggle.

Feeling like you are “walking on eggshells” around sensitive issues. When you feel the need to avoid conflicts and protect yourself from further conflict, this signals a lack of safety in your relationship.

You are unable to reach out to your partner for emotional support. A romantic relationship without emotional engagement will be drained of any vitality. If you are unable to show your emotional vulnerability to your partner then it is a clear sign your relationship is at risk.

You find you are spending less ‘couple time’ with your partner for no particular reason. When for no good reason you both choose to spend less time together and this pattern continues over a long period, you will drift apart. Couple time is a crucial resource for sustaining intimacy and connection in a relationship.

Arguments include criticism, defensiveness, and contempt. If one or both of you engage in character attacks, mindreading, insults, name-calling, or counter-complaining, the emotional security of your relationship will be injured.

When you or your partners no longer depend on one another. By no longer sharing vulnerabilty and leaning on one another for support, your closeness and the importance of your relationship will be lost.

There may have been anger and frustration in the past, but now there is just apathy. When you become detached from your relationship, you will tell yourself… “it’s too hard, I don’t care anymore… I give up!”

Trusting your partner is too hard, so you try to control circumstances instead. Controlling actions is a common way for partners to respond when trust is lost or they are fearful, but it undermines efforts to rebuild trust.

Fear of criticism prevents you from sharing personal thoughts and feelings. When you withdraw from your partner because you feel insecure and/or fear a lack of care or concern on the part of your partner. The impact of your withdrawal can seriously threaten a relationship by depriving it of life energy in the long term.

If you recognise two or three of these symptoms present in your relationship, then it is time to seek couple counselling.

A Loving Relationship Requires Work

How to Build a Loving Relationship?

It’s easy to fall in love but to keep your love alive and enduring requires work. According to John Gottman, the guru of healthy and happy relationships, we need to be aware of our negative behaviour patterns, which Dr. Gottman called the “Four Horsemen of Apocalypse”:

Criticism:
Attacking your partner’s personality or character, usually with the intent of making someone right and someone wrong i.e. “you always…” “you never….” “you’re the type of person who…” “why are you so…”!

Contempt:
Attacking your partner’s sense of self with the intention to insult or psychologically abuse him/her. Insults and name calling: “bitch, bastard, wimp, fat, stupid, ugly, slob, lazy…”. Hostile humour, sarcasm or mockery. Body language & tone of voice: sneering, rolling your eyes, curling your upper lip.

Defensiveness:
Seeing self as the victim, warding off a perceived attack.

Making excuses (external circumstances beyond your control forced you to act in a certain way) – ” It’s not my fault….”; “He/she made me do it…”

Cross-complaining: meeting your partner’s complaint, or criticism with a complaint of your own; ignoring what your partner said.

Disagreeing and then cross-complaining – “that’s not true, you’re the one who…” “I did this because you did that…”

“Yes…. but” – start off agreeing but end up disagreeing.  Repeating yourself without paying attention to what the other person is saying. Whining “it’s not fair.”

Stonewalling:
Withdrawing from the relationship as a way to avoid conflict.  Partners may think that they are trying to be “neutral” but stonewalling conveys disapproval, icy distance, separation, disconnection, and/or smugness: – Stony silence; monosyllabic mutterings; changing the subject; removing yourself physically; silence treatment.

Healthy solutions:
Make specific complaints & requests. When you said/ did this, I felt….; I want….

Conscious communications: speaking the unarguable truth and listening well

Validate your partner (let your partner know what makes sense to you about what they are saying; let them know you understand what they are feeling, see through their eyes.

Shift to appreciation (5 times as much positive feeling & interaction as negative. Take responsibility: “what can I learn from this?” and “what can I do about it?”.

Re-write your inner script (replace thoughts of righteous indignation or innocent victimisation with thoughts of appreciation, responsibility that are soothing & validating).

Practice not to be on the defensive (allowing your partner’s comments to be what they really are – just thoughts and puffs of air) and let go of your own perception / stories that you are making up.