By Sophia Fromell
Deal with strained moments in relationships swiftly & effectively. Often the original issue is quite minor – the real problem is in how it was handled, and that is what creates a great deal of negative emotion. – Bob Proctor
Being a relationship coach in Dubai for some time now I have found, to be related to someone is a human need.
According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, once our basic physiological needs are met (the need for shelter, water and food) we focus on achieving our psychological needs; the need of belongingness, love, relationships and our esteem needs that provide us with the feeling of self accomplishment. Relationships, when successful, bring happiness and meaningfulness to our lives. When we are in a relationship we are looking to have a number of needs met:
- the need for commitment;
- the need for safety not only physically but also financially and emotionally. This includes mutual trust and honesty between the partners.
- the need for mutual love
- esteem needs which include self respect but also the respect between the partners
- actualisation needs, this includes achieving one’s full potential and sense of fulfillment and in doing so the support of the other partner is important.
When these needs are not met, relationships can carry the strain thereof, and result in arguments or even end up in their doom. However, often there are smaller every day problems that might make a relationship suffer. Daily stresses, different or unrealistic of expectations, breach of trust can often make partners feel frustrated, unheard, or unappreciated. If you are feeling stuck or dissatisfied in your relationship, don’t lose faith.
The following tips can help you redefine the problematic areas and guide you to build a stronger or more solid relationship.
Recognize and accept
When you are trying to address any challenge in any area of your life, it is important to get some quiet time alone and try to understand the whole situation. Use this time to rationally reflect on what’s going wrong. To avoid considering yourself being right, try the following exercise: make a list of all the things that you like of your partner. Then make an additional list on why this relationship is important to you. This exercise will help you start your thinking on a positive note. If you are in a negative state of mind when you reflect on a situation, you are more likely to focus on the problems other than the solutions.
One of the biggest mistakes we make in relationships is that we try so hard to get our point across and be understood by our partner, but how can we be understood when we fail to understand the other person? How can we pass our point across efficiently when we do not fully understand how our partner feels, acts and communicates?
Listen to your partner carefully and resist the temptation to judge or criticize in-between. It is however important to listen for more than words. Pay attention to the body language too. A study at UCLA found that body language is responsible for about 93% of a person’s effectiveness in communication.
Allow your partner to conclude his/her point before you start talking. Summarise and repeat what you heard to ensure you both understand what has been communicated. Express your concerns in a constructive way. Remember that is this relationship is important for you, you both should be looking for solutions, not problems.
Avoid using ‘you’ and ‘why’ statements as they tend to sound accusatory. For example: ‘you never understand how I feel’ or ‘why would you say that?’, can automatically make the other person feel defensive. Instead, use ‘I feel’ statements to make your point clear, for example: ‘I feel overwhelmed by (explain the situation), so I need you to do (ask for what you need) to help me’.
Redefine and Renegotiate
The most important part in dealing with any challenge is finding the way forward. Problems always persist in relationships because we spend so much time discussing what the problem is and how it was created, that we completely forget to discuss what we plan to do to fix it. Remember that your goal is to find a solution not a scapegoat. Discuss and agree with your partner what actions each one of you will take to move the relationship forward. Ensure that your expectations are realistic. Do not get influenced by what other people say or do. Nobody knows your relationship as good as you do, and what works for others might not work for you. Keep communication open following your discussion.