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Relationship Success – Do we get a cat or a dog? (On Compromise)

Relationship Success – Working on your relationship one step at a time


Welcome to this week’s Relationship Success post.

If you missed the previous posts, you can catch up here:

Working on your relationship one step at a time,

Whose responsibility is it anyway?.

Acceptance


I decided to write this series because I believe in the importance of raising awareness of the aspects of relationships that might help or hinder our ability to communicate and relate in healthy ways with our partners.

Once we are in a space to think about our behaviours, our partners behaviours, and how they impact on one another, we can then start thinking about how to resolve those miscommunications or missed opportunities to make things right.


If you feel you want to discuss this in a session, feel free to book by emailing me or contacting me via this blog’s contact form.


2In today’s post I want to start with a little joke that you’ve probably heard as many times as I have.

“So, my partner and I were having a conversation. She really loves cats and wants us to get one. I don’t like cats, I told her I’d prefer to get a dog. So, after a few hours of discussing this, we decided to compromise, and we are getting a cat tomorrow.”

Switch “cat” and “dog” with any two other things, and you can pretty much get the idea.


The take-home message here is that, in that scenario, one partner gets their way and the other is left with their needs not being met.


So how can we have actual, real compromise, where both partners get a bit of what they want – or all of what they both want – without either partner suffering or having to pass on what they really want?


I would say two things here:

  1. Pick your battles
  2. Come up with a third solution that works for both of you

3Let’s start with the ‘easier’ one.

Come up with a third solution that works for both of you.

Did you know that your solution or his/her solution are not the only ones out there?

Yes? No? Maybe but it’s hard to accept?

Sometimes it’s hard to accept this and try to find ways to fit in with both your lifestyles and desires.

Once you both get your heads around that, then there is a chance to have an open and honest conversation about how to move forward.

So maybe you end up getting a cat AND a dog (remember this is an analogy, replace cat and dog with your situation, it might be more complex than that though!), or you decide to get a Hamster instead, because you both agree that you both like hamsters. Or you just don’t have any pets or decide to leave it ‘til later.

A third solution might give you both a chance to get all or at least part of what you both want, or find a way to not fight or argue about the situation, and find something else that works for both of you, even if it isn’t 100% what either of you wanted.


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A happy relationship full of communication, respect and compromise is much better than one where “I win” or “why did you get your way, again!”, or “I’ll get them, back next time I’ll get what I want, it’s only fair!”.

 

 

 

 


Pick your battles


Picking your battles simply means, is it worth it to have a big argument about this or that, or can it be resolved by “being the bigger person” or agreeing that it is just not worth it to fight, and let’s find a happy medium or a third solution, or let’s just drop it.

But, how do you know whether to leave it or fight it?

One question you can ask yourself is, will this matter in the long-run?

Is having a cat in the house so bad? is having a dog so bad? Is not having either so bad? Do we really need to have a cat or a dog, or neither?

Do I see myself being upset with him/her because they put their foot down and denied me the chance of having my favourite pet?

If the answer is yes, then this is a battle you need to pick, for the sake of your future self. But be sensible, empathetic, compassionate and understanding of yourself and your partner when you have the conversation!

If the answer is no, then there’s your answer: it is not worth it.

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Now, we’ve been talking about things that are negotiable, like getting a cat or a dog.

It is important to the relationship that there are things that are factored in at the beginning of the relationship, so that everyone is clear on how the couple is going to handle certain things:

  • How to handle money. This is a big topic that can cause heartache or relief.
    • Do you keep separate accounts or is everything put into a joint account?
    • Are you good at saving but your partner isn’t, how will you deal with this?
    • What is acceptable spending during the week and what isn’t?
    • Can I spend my money how I want or do I have to consult my partner?
    • And so on.
  • Love languages. We can’t help what we prefer to get to fill up our love tank. (I will write a full blog post on this soon).
    • Do you or your partner like getting gifts?
    • Do you or your partner enjoy physical touch?
    • Do you or your partner prefer acts of service?
    • Do you or your partner thrive on quality time?
    • Do you or your partner appreciate words of affirmation?
    • Do you match with your partner’s main love language?
    • How can you get what you need and meet your partner’s needs as well, especially if your love languages are completely different and even a bit incompatible?
  • From that last one stems this last one – how to spend your time
    • Do you enjoy time on your own and in fact need it to recharge and be able to relate well with your partner and others again?
    • Do you need lots of people-time to recharge?
    • How do you want to spend your time together?
      • Planned outings
      • Playing games or watching tv at home
      • Other activities

6Think about these and talk to your partner about the things that are important to you. They might be the same things that are important to them! Or you can find a happy middle, or a way to meet both of your needs without much hassle.

To end this post, I want to leave you a bit more “food for thought”: there are some things that shouldn’t be negotiable in a relationship, things that are inherently vital to our mental health and wellbeing as individuals, and for the health of our relationships:

  • Respect for one another
  • Acceptance of one another
  • Supporting each other in your goals and aspirations.

If these aren’t present, then resentment might arise on either partner and things might get tricky and murky.


Good communication skills and practising empathy, understanding, acceptance and listening for the sake of listening, will help you and your partner find the path to happier conversations and solutions to the problems and situations in the relationship as they arise.


Have you got any ways in which you’ve achieved good levels of compromise, where both of you win? Leave a comment below!


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Relationship Success – Whose responsibility is it anyway?

Relationship Success – Working on your relationship one step at a time


Welcome to this week’s Relationship Success post.

If you missed last week’s post you can read it here.

This series is aimed at romantic relationships, but as I’ve seen in the therapy room, the materials and topics I talk about with my couples apply as well to clients who come to see me individually.

We are, after all, relational beings, and many issues that come up in any relationship will be similar to those in a romantic relationship, in one way or another…

…or the issues might just relate to the fact that there are two different people, with different backgrounds and ideas about many things, that are living or in close proximity to each other.

It’s normal. It happens. It means we are human! 


If you feel you want to discuss this in a session, feel free to book by emailing me or contacting me via this blog’s contact form.


1In this post I’d like to talk about communication, and one of its most important pillars, in my opinion – taking responsibility.

It might seem straight forward, but as the title implies, we are sometimes quick to blame someone else, or quick to take the blame for someone else.

Both are detrimental to our selves and our relationships.

 


I see many relationships suffer due to a breakdown in communication.

I’ve seen it in some of my own relationships, which is why I strive to ask questions and clarify what I meant as much as possible.

Doing this, allows me to connect with the person and to gain a better understanding of them and in turn they gain a better understanding of myself, and any confusion, misunderstanding or animosity can be cleared and life can continue.

Easier said than done, and sometimes the relationship needs to end for one reason or another.

Before it gets to that point, there are things we can all do in our relationships to bridge the communication gap and regain that lovely relationship we started out with.


2One thing that I believe is true, and is important to take note of is that we usually end up hurting those that are closest to us. Especially those we live with.

Being aware of the fact that we are prone to snapping or blaming our romantic partners is important, as it might help us stop and take a breath instead of short-circuiting into snap-or-blame games.

Taking time to stop and think is the best thing you can do for yourself and your relationship.


In two words: Take Responsibility.


Stress, anger and other strong emotions need to be processed, but if we can help it, we can work through them without letting them grow into overwhelming monsters that will only hurt us and our partner.

The physical effects of these strong emotions are not good for our physical health, and over-thinking something that could be resolved by asking a question like “wait, what did you actually mean by that?” is detrimental to our mental health.

Asking awkward and uncomfortable questions might be difficult for us – pride or the need to be right and not lose face might prevent us from asking them – but it might be the best thing we can do for the benefit of our relationship. 


Book CoverFor support with your other relationships (non-romantic ones) do have a look at my new book, where I give you tips and advice on how to improve your life and relationships by following 20 self-care habits, with an underlying theme of setting clear and healthy boundaries and learning to meet your own needs. Of course, there’s more to it than that, so pick up the book and find out how your life and relationships can improve!

 


3Increased communication and self-awareness – asking those awkward questions or saying those things that put us in a vulnerable position – might be key to growing and improving our relationships.

Getting our feelings “out” rather than keeping them “in” are only going to be beneficial, even if it’s not obvious right now.

The better we feel in our relationship and how we work through arising issues and situations, the better we will feel about ourselves.


It is all about balance. 


The better we feel about ourselves, in turn, will also allow us to voice our feelings and needs more clearly. We will respect ourselves, we will honour ourselves and our feelings.

This is “catchy” and when people see how we respect and honour ourselves, they will fall in line and act accordingly.

I call it that “vibe” we sent out.

I see it all the time – someone comes to therapy, realises an aspect of themselves they’ve been neglecting; they start thinking differently about themselves, and things start to change in their environment and relationships.

The vibe has changed.


4Earlier in this post I mentioned asking awkward questions and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable in order to deepen communication and understand each other better.

I also mentioned taking responsibility as a means to improve communication and our relationship.

Here are some ways in which we can take responsibility and help our partner do the same:


  • I am responsible for my own happiness, not my partner.
  • My partner is responsible for his/her own happiness, not me.

In a given situation,

  • What part have I played?
  • What part has my partner played?
  • What was my reaction to it and how can I take back responsibility for my reaction rather than placing it on my partner?
  • What was my partner’s reaction to it and how can I disengage from taking responsibility for his/her reaction?

In an aim to resolve this situation,

  • I need to be assertive and say how a comment or behaviour made me feel – using “I felt” statements rather than “you made me feel”.  – Ask the awkward questions, allow vulnerability.
  • I need to hear an explanation, an apology, or just feel understood by my partner.
  • I need to own what I said or how I behaved and explain or apologise accordingly.
  • Do we both need a time-out before carrying on with the conversation? – 20 minutes is how long the body takes to regroup.

Links to the past:

  • In an attempt to understand myself and my partner better, it’s important to know whether there’s a link to a situation from their/my upbringing that leads me/them to react so strongly to particular comments or behaviours.

As you can see, it’s all about give then take, and take then give, or both happening simultaneously!

Remember: Both parties have responsibility in keeping the relationship healthy and making it grow.


I hope you have enjoyed reading this first post in the Relationship Success series.

I welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions.

In the next blog post I’ll talk a bit more about communication, compromise and acceptance.


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