It’s not too difficult to be kind, considerate and affectionate with your partner when things are going well. However, when you’re both working long days, or a major life event such as redundancy occurs, any relationship is going to be put to the test. This is when it’s easy to slip into destructive behaviours – personal criticism, anger, name calling or withdrawing communication and affection.
A good way to start tackling this stalemate is to try to stop pointing the finger at each other - ‘You’re lazy’, ‘I do everything round here’, ‘You just don’t care’, ‘You’re spending too much’….and instead begin to look at the situation as a joint problem. ‘This is a really difficult time for us’, ‘We’re both really tired’, ‘What can we each do to help each other out’?
Think about how you’re communicating, is your anger out of proportion to the situation? Anger and resentment are often a camouflage for other more difficult emotions, such as fear or sadness. Learn to calmly ask each other for help, listen without interrupting, try to understand each other’s point of view, and be forgiving of yourselves.
Life is sometimes truly difficult, some degree of tension is inevitable, but try to work as a team, avoid contempt and blame, and you will find that your relationship starts to feel like the port in a storm rather than just another problem to contend with.
Louise Tyler, a BACP accredited and registered counsellor, runs Personal Resilience based in Cheshire, offers counselling for individuals, couples and also workplace counselling. Her emphasis is on problem management, helping clients to work towards goals that are realistic and in keeping with practical constraints.