Improve Your Relationship with Your Partner
Helen was just finishing work for the day. She works as a primary school teacher and she loves her job, but the children consume a lot of her energy. At 16.00 she is tired. She is glad the day is over and feels a sense of relief. But, a new anxiety is building within. As Helen drives home, feelings of irritation develop. She starts to imagine the same scene that often accompanies her journey home, repeating; arriving home and her husband there are the door, wanting to give her a hug and kiss and to talk to her about her day. She feels tense. A thought comes to mind; ‘I just want him to leave me alone for 5 minutes!’ Feelings of irritation, anger and being out of control rise. By the time she is at the front door, she is ready to explode with the words; ‘Just leave me alone!!’ She doesn’t. She contains herself. They embrace. He asks if she is okay. She says ‘I’m fine’. ‘What are we having for dinner; he inquires with a big grin’. She replies, ‘I’ve just walked in the door, can’t you ever just give me time! Why don’t you make it? I can’t cope, I just need to stop’. ‘I’ve been working all day too you know’, he says, withdrawing, and negative feelings contaminate the home.
What is happening here? Helen has arrived home ready for a fight. Her husband is there so happy to see her and wanting to be with her. This particular issue is not about him, it is about communication to him, and it is about communication with herself.
Helen lives in this repetitive cycle because she does not ask for her needs and wants, she just erupts when she does not get them. If she did ask, she would feel more in control of herself and her life, regardless of whether or not her husband responded as she wanted, because then she could make another choice based on that response; to accept him, or to leave him, because the relationship does not support her.
Helen is filling her mind with negative expectations based on the past, reliving history. Instead, she could choose to stop communicating with herself in this way, and decide to calm herself, drive to a park, beach or café for a quiet moment to herself, and arrive home later, with thoughts of joy at seeing her husband.
Often, the conflict is not about the other person, it is about how we communicate with ourselves, because how we think determines how we feel. And, it is about what we communicate to others, to give them a chance to respond to our needs and wants.
In this example, Helen’s husband is not behaving in an inappropriate way, if anything he is there full of love. This is not to say this is always the case, but in this example I want to highlight how much communication and conflict is about what is going on within, and that when we can see ourselves, and change our thoughts and behaviours, it can go a long way in transforming relationship dynamics without the other person even being involved. When we chance ourselves for the better, we give others an opportunity to respond in a better way. If they do, wonderful. If they do not, there are other techniques that can be used to help resolve this conflict and that couples can work on together.
If Helen were to say: ‘Darling, I feel tired and frustrated. When I get home, I need 5 minutes to just be alone’, there is a good chance her need would be met. The interesting thing is, sometimes just in making this request the issue with the husband is no longer an issue and she cannot wait to arrive home into his arms. This is because the issue was never about him, it was about empowering herself to take control in simply asking for her needs to be met, and recognising how she can take control to make some changes to her thoughts and behaviours to give herself this.
Private coaching sessions are available at my office for adults and teenagers in Gibraltar on Monday’s and Guadalimina on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s. Tel: +34 620 741 361 www.antoniabehan.com
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