Advice to Those in Troubled Relationships

Is your relationship suffering at the moment? Has it been going on for a while? At times, it can start to feel “normal” for couples to be in crisis mode, and that’s when it becomes a real problem. In the eyes of some, ongoing problems and conflicts are just a sign that the relationship should end, but for those who feel their relationship or marriage is worth fighting for, there are things you might try first.

1. Seek Professional Help

Seeing a marriage or relationship counsellor can be quite daunting at first. For example, if you go to professional relationship counselling in Elsternwick, or wherever you live, you might worry about what people you know will say or think about you. Equally, you might worry about sharing personal information with a stranger.

These worries are natural but unnecessary. If you can just take that first step and start seeking professional help from counsellors, then you will start to see things from a different perspective which is key to finding constructive solutions. Sometimes it’s that third-party, impartial voice that we need to confirm what we have suspected or quietly known in our hearts all along but were too afraid to face.

2. It’s Time for Honesty

So much of what poisons relationships can be traced back to lies and deception. Even small “white lies” are problematic, planting seeds of mistrust and doubt that only serve to toxify a connection between 2 people. Restoring honesty and trust between you is the path back to a healthy and happy relationship, even if that medicine is quite bitter to the taste at first.

If you don’t have trust, then you have nothing at all. According to Shula Melamed, M.A., MPH, “We depend on our partner being our port in the storm, a person who we can trust with our thoughts, feelings, and heart.” If you can no longer have that from your partner, then what can you expect from them in the future? And what can they expect from you?

3. Avoid Superlative Language

The language we choose also has a great bearing on how our relationships develop. One type of language that it’s a good idea to avoid is strong superlative words such as never, always, worst, best, etc. Why do we say this? Well, if you’re using such terms in a positive, loving and supportive sense, they might be alright, but in most other contexts they serve only to divide.

The trouble with superlative adjectives is that they are hard to believe. They’re mostly subjective, and thus prompt natural disagreement from your interlocutor. If that person is also your romantic partner, you risk driving wedges between you until your thinking is on entirely different pages. They can also be used to wound another person deeply when used negatively. Using more tentative language can help avoid one of you digging in your heels and refusing to listen.

4. Work on Listening to Each Other More

As the old saying goes: we have 2 ears but only 1 mouth; therefore we should listen twice as much as we speak. When people in a relationship can learn to listen to each other more and think about and reflect on what the other is saying --- and not how they are saying it --- then communication between those 2 people is immediately improved.

5. Self-Reflect on Your Mistakes

So much of what fuels conflict in couples is where one party is convinced the other is entirely in the wrong. This kind of thinking fosters resentment, which is another truly toxic substance to have muddying the waters of a relationship. The best way out of it is to self-reflect on mistakes that you have made, acknowledge them and understand them. When you do, you can then empathise with your partner more and produce a better outcome.

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