In The Guardian

I love when an email comes through from the BACP media department offering me a chance to talk about my favourite subject, and the one that came through at the start of July was especially welcome.

Since long before I started training with Relate the first section of the Saturday Guardian I’ve turned to has been the Guardian Family supplement, and my favourite bit of that is always Annalisa Barbieri’s advice in response to letters sent in by readers.

So I was super pleased to be asked if I’d speak with Annalisa about a letter she’d received from a reader.

I really enjoyed looking at Annalisa’s reader’s letter and talking it over with her on the phone. We also had a chance to talk about her time doing the column, and how she manages the push back she sometimes gets from readers online.

Do have a look at the piece, and let me know what you think. Maybe it might stimulate some ideas about how you might approach a similar situation in your life?

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/aug/02/husband-humour-turnoff-annalisa-barbieri

Babyproof your Relationship

Becoming parents is a marvellous time for many couples, and for others it can be rough, even leading to relationship breakdown.

birth and baby basics The lovely Janine Rudin over at Birth and Baby Basics asked me to write a couple of articles on preparing your relationship for the birth, as well as ideas on how to manage things afterwards.

Janine is an inspiring antenatal teacher, doula, baby massage instructor and postnatal educator, who’s been providing a unique combination of professional support and services from pregnancy through to life as a young¬†family on Tyneside since 2008.

I’m lucky enough to be a mother, but when my baby arrived it was by no means plain sailing. At times it felt like my husband, new baby and I were in a tiny boat on very stormy seas. We had very little support close by at that time and I suffered from post-natal depression. Eventually my marriage broke down, which at the time was really tough, but gave me the motivation to heal, as well as learn how to help others who might be in a similar position.

Go and take a look at Janine’s fab Birth and Baby Basics website and see what I wrote here .. and here.

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I would love to hear what you think about becoming a parent? Did you struggle? Any tips? Any hopes or worries you’d like to share?

Do get in touch by Commenting below or using my Contact details to speak direct.

Fighting for your relationship ..

“If peace cannot be maintained with honour, it is no longer peace”

Lord John Russell (1792-1878)

The most common problem that couples report when coming to me for relationship counselling is arguments that they find difficult to successfully resolve. In other words they’re stuck in a pattern and they need some help to¬† find alternative ways to deal with it. This might seem daunting, but is usually straightforward enough, with both partners’ effort, to quickly resolve.

The second most common problem, and one which has usually been going on longer than the ‘conflict style’ above, is when a couple come to me and say “We never fight; I just don’t love him / her any more”.

The second style can often be more damaging because it becomes invisible .. couples pride themselves on keeping the peace when in actual fact levels of resentment are rising and both partners are compromising their personal integrity in the interests of “the relationship”. The partner who has an affair because ‘my husband / wife doesn’t understand me’ is often guilty of not opening up enough to allow their partner to understand them because of a fear of conflict.

Contrary to what people with both these conflict styles believe, conflict is actually necessary and healthy for two people in a relationship (and of course within families) in order that individuals be able to express their true selves and to be understood, to maintain clear personal boundaries and to enable growth.

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Something to keep in mind is that both of these conflict styles have an effect on children living around these patterns of behaviour. Research by the Gottman Institute suggests that

” .. parents whose conflicts are characterized by mutual hostility often produce children who are unable to wait their turn, tend to disobey or break rules, or expect others to conform to their wishes.”

While couples whose conflict style involve withdrawal can produce children who are shy, depressed, or anxious.

And of course your children will learn and repeat your conflict style in their own relationships.

To put this learning into practice in your relationship ask yourself which conflict style tends to dominate between you?

If it’s the first practise spotting when you feel the temperature rising in your exchanges (faster breathing, tension, heightened temperature) and taking time out, at least 20 minutes, to let your breathing slow to normal and resume the conversation using only “I” statements, eg I believe / think / feel that ..

If you tend to withdraw from conflict practise spotting when this happens. Again take at least 20 minutes time out to work out what your position is on the issue at hand and return to your partner. Find a good time for both of you to discuss it, explain your position briefly, and calmly, thank them for listening, tell them you would love to hear their side and give your partner some time to process before they get back to you. This will avoid their tendency to ‘cave in’ to avoid the anxiety of conflict.

Both these strategies will feel unnatural at first, but with time and practise will become second nature as you experience the benefits of being understood.

Sometimes getting your relationships moving forward needs an outside perspective. If that’s what you need get in touch with a well qualified and experienced relationship coach who should be able to work together with you to achieve your relationship goals.