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The relationship makeover

While some politicians are busy trying to find the best ways to measure how happy everybody is, it’s worth taking a little time to assess individual and collective levels of contentment for its own sake; how good is the quality of relationships in people’s lives, for example? Being in a relationship is all about ‘relating’ to other people, so communication is an important factor. This means not just what is being communicated but how it is being done.

People who discover a relationship is ailing need to ask themselves some important questions and maybe face up to some hard facts. If a relationship is unhappy, are they taking responsibility for their half of the problem or blaming a partner one hundred per cent? Are they also trying to find at least one half of the solution, or have they decided that’s someone else’s problem?

In a truly adult relationship both parties will share responsibility, acknowledging that, as individuals, they have had different family and life experiences, and that they may have jealousies or insecurities as a result of this. Adults should also aim to seek solutions to relationship problems together. This might mean taking the trouble to really listen to, and try to understand, what a partner is saying rather than having an aggressive or defensive kneejerk reaction.

Some relationships get into trouble when children arrive, and seventy per cent of those that do happen when the children are less than five years of age. Parenting is a challenge and couples should acknowledge that parenting roles are not set in stone, but ought to be agreed between them.

Finally, stress caused by long hours at work or financial difficulties can sow the seeds of discontent in a relationship. Again, tackling these issues together is a better way to deal with these areas than blaming one partner for not earning enough or never being home. Above all, keep talking and keep listening.

 

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Michele McCulley is an accredited member of the BACP

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