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Relationship Matters provides relationship tips, advice, information and the latest research to help you create a great relationship!
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Desire Discrepancy: The Real Reasons You’re Not Having More Sex in Your Relationship

No two people in a relationship are going to have the exact same sex drive, but when it becomes a chronic problem in how they interact, it might be time to seek help. The most common myths about desire In our culture, sexual education is spotty at best. Many of us get a lot of […] The post Desire Discrepancy: The Real Reasons You’re Not Having More Sex in Your Relationship appeared first on Clinton Power +...

desire discrepancy

No two people in a relationship are going to have the exact same sex drive, but when it becomes a chronic problem in how they interact, it might be time to seek help.

The most common myths about desire

In our culture, sexual education is spotty at best. Many of us get a lot of our ideas about sex from movies and pornography, and those aren’t always the healthiest sources for sexual information.

You, just like everyone, probably suffer from a variety of beliefs about sex that are untrue and unhealthy.

Here are two common myths about sexual desire, and the truths behind them:

  1. Sexual desire is driven by love. Sexual desire and love are related, but not the same. Sex is a great way for people who love each other to connect on an intimate level, but it’s not the most important or most meaningful way for people who love each other to relate. Just because someone doesn’t desire sex with you at this moment, it doesn’t mean that they don’t love you.
  2. Desire happens spontaneously. Sexual desire is not always a sudden, spur-of-the-moment, passionate experience. Believe it or not, it’s okay to schedule sex! While everyone should always be free to withdraw consent, it’s a great idea to make room in your schedule for sexual time with your partner. Sometimes the anticipation makes it even better.

These are two of the most widespread myths that feed into sexual discrepancies, though there are, of course, more.

Let’s explore some of the types of sexual discrepancy and then their causes.

Types of desire discrepancy (also called mismatched libidos)

There are a range of reasons why you might have mismatched libidos in your relationship. Here are the types of differences between the sex drives of two people in a relationship:

  • Both people want sex but one wants it more than the other. This means that one partner has a higher sex drive and one has a lower one. This is very common in many couples I work with.
  • Both people want sex but disagree on what activities they want to engage in. Two people may have different sexual tastes and/or kinks, causing them to have conflicting desires.
  • Both people want sex but they disagree on the effect of conflict on desire. One partner may be unwilling to have sex when they feel angry with their partner, while another may not find that it makes a difference in how much desire they feel.
  • One person doesn’t want sex very much at all. This person may have a very low libido, possibly for medical reasons. While it’s important not to pressure anyone into sex that they don’t want, this can often be treated.

The most common reasons you don’t want sex

Here are some common reasons that you might not want sex:

  • The pressure of performance. No matter your gender, you may worry about your sexual response and/or sexual performance.
  • Anxiety and shame about the “normality” of your sexual tastes or body parts. You may have body shame that leads you to be unwilling to reveal your body to a partner, or you may have tastes that you feel are unusual or unacceptable.
  • Non-sex-related emotions. Sometimes you may be distracted by stress in either your personal or professional life, making it tough for you to focus on sex with your partner.
  • Unmet or conflicting conditions. Everyone has conditions that need to be met before sexual activity can occur. If your conditions aren’t met, it can be very tough for you to get “in the mood.” Two universal conditions for sexual activity are feelings of safety and empowerment.
  • Criticism. While communication is good, it must be respectful or it’s a detriment. If your partner critiques your sexual performance or proclivities in a disrespectful way, you can often become too ashamed, angry, or spiteful to engage in sexual activity.
  • Inadequate initiation or transition. Some people need more foreplay than others. If you’re one of these people and the transition into sexual activity is inadequate, you won’t want to participate because you won’t be in the right head-space.
  • It hurts. Pain is a common problem for the receiving partner and is often a result of stress or anxiety that shows up in your body. The good news is this can often be treated with therapy or medical attention if there is a physiological basis for the pain.
  • It isn’t satisfying. For whatever reason, the sex is not meeting your needs, and therefore you don’t have the drive to repeat the activity.

The takeaway: In general, a lack of desire is seldom about lack of enjoyment. When it is, it’s time to create more enjoyable sex. But technique is typically not the issue—more likely, it’s medical stuff, personal issues, and/or relationship conflict. Those three things always need to be attended to when there are sexual issues in a relationship.

Why you’re not initiating sex

For sexual activity to happen, you or your partner has to initiate sex. In some relationships, this is usually the same partner, and in other relationships, the responsibility is shared equally.

Sometimes, when there is sexual dysfunction in a relationship, it is because neither partner is willing to initiate.

Here are some reasons you might not initiate sexual activity:

  • You don’t think you’re going to enjoy it. This is not the same as sexual dysfunction, but it can be chronic—you might not believe that the sex is going to be satisfying or is going to meet your needs.
  • You don’t think your partner is going to consent to sexual activity. If they don’t think their partner is going to agree, they might not feel it’s worth it to even ask.
  • You anticipate criticism. If your partner is harsh about their “no’s” and/or criticises the way that sex goes, you might want to protect your ego by not initiating sex.
  • You’re tired of being the one to initiate sexual activity. If you’re often or always the one to initiate sexual activity, you might feel unwanted or just plain bored.
  • You’re angry, hurt, sad, or lonely. Whether these emotions are directly related to the relationship or not, stressful feelings can prevent you from initiating sex.
  • You’re afraid of their sexual impulses. Many of us experience sexual shame, and therefore don’t initiate sex because they don’t want to experience that shame.
  • You don’t feel attractive. If you don’t feel desirable, whether in general or by your partner, you’re not going to be inclined to expose your body to someone else in a sexual way.
  • The last time you had sex, it was a disappointment. If the last sexual experience you had was not satisfactory, you might hesitate to initiate sex again.

3 tips for reducing a discrepancy in sexual desire

If you and your partner have differing sex drives, there are practical steps you can take to fix the problem.

Here are a few options:

  1. Find out what the low-desire partner wants and doesn’t want, and stop the low-desire partner from having sex they don’t want. Focusing on what the low-desire partner wants is a key aspect of righting discrepancies in desire. If a person is going to feel safe enough to have sex, they need to feel safe enough to say “no” to the things they don’t want. Catering to the low-desire partner’s needs and wants can enhance pleasure for both partners, in addition to making both people feel heard.
  2. Identify any sexual pain. If anyone is having pain connected to sex, it’s important to get this assessed by a medical professional and to immediately stop any painful activity.
  3. Identify what the high-desire partner wants and increase activities that support the high-desire partner. For example, when they desire sex, they may also desire attention. Going on a date and spending some quality time with each other might satisfy the high-desire partner’s need for attention without pressuring the low-desire partner into sex.

If this is a chronic and/or serious problem in your relationship, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with a couples therapist who works with sexual issues. There is plenty that a professional can do to help how you and your partner interact.

Do you need help with your sexual relationship?

If you need help with your sexual relationship, contact Clinton Power + Associates for a FREE 15-minute phone inquiry call to discuss your situation and find out how we can help. Call us now on 0412 241 410 or book your free phone consult online.

Clinton Power is a relationship counsellor and Gestalt therapist with over a decade of experience helping individuals and couples move out of relationship pain and create great relationships. Get Clinton’s FREE report: 10 Tips for Moving Out of Relationship Pain, by clicking the button below.

FREE Instant Download

The post Desire Discrepancy: The Real Reasons You’re Not Having More Sex in Your Relationship appeared first on Clinton Power + Associates.



How to Decide if a Significant Relationship Commitment is Right for You

There comes a time in every relationship when you need to make a significant decision or commitment together. You might be considering increasing your relationship commitment, or making a decision together which requires a big emotional, financial, or psychological commitment. Some significant relationship commitments you might make together include: deciding to move in together getting […] The post How to Decide if a Significant Relationship Commitment is Right for You appeared first on...

big relationship commitment

There comes a time in every relationship when you need to make a significant decision or commitment together.

You might be considering increasing your relationship commitment, or making a decision together which requires a big emotional, financial, or psychological commitment.

Some significant relationship commitments you might make together include:

  • deciding to move in together
  • getting engaged or married
  • buying a pet
  • buying a house or investment property
  • permanently moving interstate or overseas
  • choosing to have a child or additional children

Many couples rush into big decisions

If you’re considering making a big decision or commitment in your relationship, it can be helpful to take your time to make sure it’s the right decision for you.

Don’t fall into the trap of making a premature decision if it doesn’t feel right for you. Your feelings are a valuable indicator that you may need to hold off on making the decision.

For any successful relationship, there needs to be a strong sense of safety and security that you create together. If your relationship is entirely new, this does take time and constant work on the relationship. It doesn’t happen in a few months.

If you rush into a decision before allowing enough time to understand your partner and how they operate in the world, the consequences can be disastrous.

Watch out for these red flags in the decision-making process

Some warning signs indicate you’re not ready to make a big decision or commitment in your relationship.

The most common red flags include:

  • your partner is pressuring you to make a significant decision before you’re ready
  • your partner is not listening to your reservations or concerns about a significant commitment
  • you and your partner are continually arguing or fighting about the possible decision without any resolution
  • you’re feeling stressed, worried, or highly anxious about the potential commitment
  • your partner is not interested in exploring all the possible problems or issues that might arise from making a significant commitment to each other

If you’re noticing any of these issues, it could be a sign you need to put the brakes on and slow down the decision-making process.

Tips for making a successful relationship commitment

1. Get to know each other.

One of the most common mistakes I see in my relationship counselling practice is couples that rush to make major life decisions before they have had time to get to know one another. 

No matter how strongly you feel about somebody, the fact is it takes time to get to know your partner honestly .

When you first meet someone and fall in love, you’re seeing your new partner through rose-tinted glasses. Love and the rush of hormones temporarily blind your brain, so you’re unable to see your partner’s quirks, annoying habits, and personal limitations.

First of all, make sure you take the time to get to know your partner. Nothing can replace the value of slowly getting to know someone and not rushing into a relationship or big decisions.

2. Vet your new partner with friends and family.

If you’re in the early stages of dating (within the first six months), one of the things I often recommend to my clients is that you vet your partner with close friends and family. Close friends and family are not in love with your partner and have more objectivity than you do. They can see possible problems on the horizon that you may not be able to see in your beloved.

When you’re ready to introduce your partner to close friends and family, let them know you’ll be asking them some questions afterwards. Ask your friends to answer these questions as honestly as possible to help you form an accurate opinion about your partner.

I recommend the vetting questions from the book Wired for Dating: How Understanding Neurobiology and Attachment Style Can Help You Find Your Ideal Mate, by Stan Tatkin.

Here are Stan’s vetting questions you can ask your family or friends after meeting your new partner:

  1. What did you like about my date?
  2. What did you like about me when I was with my date? Was I myself? Was I different? (If so, how?)
  3. How did you think my date treated me? (Please give specific examples)
  4. Did we look comfortable and relaxed with each other? (Please give specific examples.)
  5. Can you picture me with this person long term? (If so, why? If not, why?)
  6. Did you notice any red flags? (Please be specific.)
  7. If you had to vote now, would it be thumbs up or thumbs down?

3. Explore the pros and cons.

Like anything important in life, it’s essential that you evaluate all the pros and cons of any big decision. Take time to have an honest discussion about all the possible issues that could arise in advance. Discussing potential problems is not a ‘doom and gloom’ approach, but rather a practical and sensible acknowledgement that problems and issues do come up. When you flag possible issues in advance, you’re more able to deal with them if and when they come up.

4. Take your time.

If you have any doubts, take time to sit with the decision and continue to explore and discuss the issues with your partner. It’s hard to do this in our instant gratification culture, but a lot of good things can come waiting. Situations can change, new ideas can emerge, and your feelings can also change with the passage of time.

Conclusion:

Ultimately, when it comes to making a significant commitment in your relationship, you both have to feel that the decision is in the best interests of both of you. If you make unilateral decisions in your relationship, it will often end in disaster, so make sure the outcome works for both of you. It will get your commitment off to the best possible start.

Are you engaged or about to get married?

If you’re about to make the most significant commitment of your life, make sure you book in for our pre-marriage education program before your big day. Prepare-Enrich is the world’s #1 pre-marriage program that has been taken by over 3 million couples. Visit our pre-marriage counselling page to read more and to book your online assessment and feedback sessions.

 

The post How to Decide if a Significant Relationship Commitment is Right for You appeared first on Clinton Power + Associates.



How to Stay Connected as a Happy and Healthy Couple

Couples are stressed out more than ever It’s not easy being in a relationship these days. With so many competing stresses including managing your work, personal life, family, and relationship, it’s no wonder so many couples are stressed out. And when you’re stressed out, it can negatively impact the connection between you and your partner […] The post How to Stay Connected as a Happy and Healthy Couple appeared first on Clinton Power +...

maintain couple connection

Couples are stressed out more than ever

It’s not easy being in a relationship these days. With so many competing stresses including managing your work, personal life, family, and relationship, it’s no wonder so many couples are stressed out.

And when you’re stressed out, it can negatively impact the connection between you and your partner over time.

How stress erodes your connection

One of the most common challenges in maintaining your couple connection is stress. Stress can show up in a range of different ways including, work stress, financial stress, difficulties dealing with family and in-laws, and raising children.

When you don’t adequately manage your stress, it can affect the mental, physical, and spiritual health of both you and your partners.

When you’re under stress, you have less resilience – your ability to respond well to life’s day-to-day challenges is compromised. This can also affect your communication and the ability to manage conflict in your relationship.

And you probably know that if you’ve been arguing or fighting in your relationship, this has a detrimental effect on your connection.

All couples fight at one time or another, but if you don’t have the skills to resolve your disagreements quickly and effectively, it can create a big rift between you and your partner.

Plus, arguing and fighting reduces the intimacy in your relationship. Not only do you not feel like having sex with your partner because of unresolved resentments, bitterness, or anger, but also you probably don’t have much inclination to be affectionate either.

Avoiding conflict leads to a distant relationship

Resolving conflict quickly and effectively is one of the hallmarks of effective couples. However, some couples think that by avoiding conflict they are going to improve their connection. This is a relationship myth because what often ends up happening is you end up in more conflict than you were originally trying to avoid.

If you’re a conflict-avoidant couple, it can be tempting to sometimes talk to other people – friends, family members, work colleagues – about your relationship problems.

You mistakenly believe that by offloading to people other than your partner it will help with your difficulties and you won’t have to address them head-on with your partner.

Of course, this doesn’t work because it doesn’t help you develop the skills you need to address issues directly and assertively with your partner. Raising and resolving issues with your primary partner will always be the best way to improve your connection and strengthen your relationship.

If you’re a conflict-avoidant couple, it can be challenging to start discussing issues. If you’ve been avoiding difficult conversations, it’s only natural that you will feel some apprehension or anxiety as you step out of your comfort zone.

However, there’s no way to get around this. You’ll feel tension and unease when you first start dealing with issues head-on. But the good news is over time it will get easier and, you will build tolerance for holding and managing the tension between you and your partner.

Here are my tips for improving your connection with your partner:

  1. Deal with conflict quickly

When it comes to dealing with conflict in a relationship, the strongest couples can resolve conflict swiftly by soothing each other and discussing the issue without blame or criticism.

When you’re able to quickly repair any ruptures between you and your partner you can let go of the issue and focus on restoring your connection with your partner.

So it’s helpful to have a policy to never leave unresolved conflict for too long – it’s like cancer that eats away at your relationship.

  1. Make a date for problem-free time

Set aside time at least once a week to connect with your partner and have ‘problem-free time’ where you can enjoy each other’s company.

Problem-free time can be as short as a 30-minute walk in the park together. However, during this time you don’t talk about problems, issues, or anything negative. Use this time to remember why you’re a couple. You can always discuss problems and housekeeping issues at another appropriate time.

  1. Schedule time for sex

If you’re a busy couple that has been together for a while, it’s also essential that you set aside time for sexual contact.

Once the honeymoon stage of your relationship is over (which generally lasts about 6 to 18 months) spontaneous desire for each other often reduces. This is a normal stage of couple development where spontaneous desire drops off as your relationship develops.

As a result, you need to make time to connect sexually so that you can maintain your physical intimacy and connection.

When you think about the top 10 things that you need to prioritise in your week, make sure that having sex is somewhere in that list. If it’s not in the list of your top 10 things to do, talk about what you could remove from your list of priorities to replace with sex. Attending to your physical connection is a vital part of any long-term relationship.

  1. Soothe your nervous systems

Reducing your stress can improve your overall connection with your partner.

Some of the ways you can cope with stress as an individual include anything that has a soothing effect on your nervous system. Stress-reducing activities might consist of going for a walk in the park, meditating quietly for 10 minutes, doing gentle exercise, attending a yoga class, focusing on diaphragmatic breathing, or listening to soothing and relaxing music.

  1. Share pleasurable experiences

As a couple, you can improve your connection by creating shared pleasurable experiences. For example, you could go for a walk in the park together, listen to your favourite music together, go to your favourite cafe to have a chat over coffee, or attend a new exhibition at an art gallery together.

  1. Be affectionate frequently

Display frequent physical affection with your partner such as gazing into each other’s eyes, touching your partner’s arm or shoulder, using a sweet and soothing voice when talking to your partner, hugging your partner when you come home at the end of the day, or holding hands when you walk down the street. All these physical gestures have a soothing effect on your nervous system, will calm your stress response, and help you feel more connected to each other.

Case study: Sally and Jake overcome their fear of conflict

Sally and Jake are a couple that have avoided conflict much of their relationship. They are both very positive people who love life and are very active in their community and with friends and family.

But Sally and Jake had a big problem. When it came to talking about difficult issues in their relationship, they both ran for the hills. They couldn’t tolerate any tension between them. They often changed the subject or brushed matters under the carpet. They didn’t make important decisions, and they were both feeling more and more miserable as time went on.

Sally and Jake needed to build internal resilience so they could tolerate tension in their relationship. I had them schedule a regular “state of the union meeting” where they would both sit down in a quiet space where they wouldn’t be interrupted and take turns in raising issues with each other.

Each of them would bring an agenda of at least one or two complaints or issues they had in the relationship since their last meeting.

Sally would raise her first issue and share her thoughts and feelings with Jake in an assertive way. While Jake was listening, he wasn’t to respond. Jake focused on reflecting, summarising, and understanding what Sally was saying. Jake’s active listening helped Sally feel understood and less threatened by the process of sharing complaints and issues with Jake. To end the process, Jake would focus on empathizing with Sally’s feelings.

The important thing here is Jake wouldn’t respond until he had fully understood, validated, and empathized with Sally’s concerns. It was only at this point that Jake would share his perspective on the issue Sally had raised.

The great thing about this strategy for Jake and Sally is it slowed down the process of communication and made them both feel very safe while having difficult discussions. They then started to build their confidence and tolerance for raising issues and working through them as a couple. Building their capacity to communicate assertively helped them feel closer and more connected.

Conclusion

For the modern day couple, there are many challenges to navigate. But to maintain your health and happiness as a couple, attend to your connection by dealing with stress, spending quality time together, resolving conflict quickly, and displaying frequent affection to one another. These are some of the most important things that will make your relationship a source of joy for years to come.

Read my original comments on this topic in the PsychCentral article: 3 Challenges That Chip Away at a Couple’s Connection—And What You Can Do

Do you need help with your relationship connection?

If you need help with  your relationship, contact Clinton Power + Associates for a FREE 15-minute phone inquiry call to discuss your situation and find out how we can help. Call us now on 0412 241 410 or book your free phone consult online.

Clinton Power is a relationship counsellor and Gestalt therapist with over a decade of experience helping individuals and couples move out of relationship pain and create great relationships. Get Clinton’s FREE report: 10 Tips for Moving Out of Relationship Pain, by clicking the button below.

FREE Instant Download

The post How to Stay Connected as a Happy and Healthy Couple appeared first on Clinton Power + Associates.



Kicking Your Sex Life into High Gear: The Dual Control Model and What It Means for Your Relationships

The surprising science that will transform your sex life. We all know that we have sexual turn-ons and turn-offs. We might sometimes have trouble identifying what exactly they are in ourselves and others, but we know they’re there. With inspiration from sex educator and TEDx speaker Emily Nagoski, I’m inviting you to apply that turn-on/turn-off […] The post Kicking Your Sex Life into High Gear: The Dual Control Model and What It Means for Your Relationships appeared first on Clinton...

dual control model sexuality

The surprising science that will transform your sex life.

We all know that we have sexual turn-ons and turn-offs. We might sometimes have trouble identifying what exactly they are in ourselves and others, but we know they’re there. With inspiration from sex educator and TEDx speaker Emily Nagoski, I’m inviting you to apply that turn-on/turn-off concept in a wider and more intentional way in your own relationships. Let’s explore how.

According to Nagoski, there are two brain components that relate to the initiation and conclusion of a satisfying sexual experience: an “accelerator” and a “brake.” This is called the “dual control model” because there are two things in the brain (a “go” and a “stop”) that control our level of sexual desire and arousal.

The accelerator and the brake

The accelerator, as I’ll continue to call this concept, is the part of your brain that actively notices sexually relevant information and moves toward pleasurable stimuli. It functions at a low level all the time, and it’s what inspires you to do a double-take at someone cute in the grocery store or respond positively to a playful spank from your partner. For the accelerator to kick into high gear, you must be in the right context—the environment has to be pleasurable and safe, low stress, and with a partner with whom you feel affection and trust.

The brake is the part of your brain that notices reasons to not be sexually aroused and avoids those more unpleasant things and sensations. It responds to stress, inhibitions, and threats. The brake in your mind is the reason you don’t “get busy” with a partner in public or when your in-laws are asleep in the next room. An environment not conducive to pleasure, safety, affection, and trust will cause us to back away from even the most tempting sexual stimulus. Often, this brake is more active than we would like it to be due to cultural ideas about sex as wrong or dirty, causing shyness, reticence, and “stage fright.”

Phil and Becca: A case study

Phil and Becca, married for seven years with one five year old daughter, don’t seem to be able to line up their libidos anymore. When Phil is in the mood, Becca isn’t, and vice versa.

Right now, Phil often tries to initiate sex after they’ve had long, hard days together as a family and he wants to reconnect with his partner and have some playful “us” time. When Becca is tired and her back hurts, the last thing she wants to do is be physically intimate. Now that she’s in bed, she’d rather just get some rest.

Becca, on the other hand, feels much friskier on Fridays when the kids are having their weekly visit at their grandparents’ house. Phil doesn’t reciprocate because he knows his buddies will be over soon for Poker night.

To have an enjoyable sexual experience, Becca needs a quiet and kid-free environment – these are the conditions in which she can let go and have some fun. Phil’s accelerators include their daily successes as a couple, and his brakes include feeling rushed.

By learning and discussing their sexual desire accelerating and braking factors, Phil and Becca could arrange some mutually beneficial sexual experiences that won’t leave them feeling disconnected and at odds.

The Dual Control Model in your relationships

You can apply this model to your own sexual experiences for more fulfilling and fun encounters, especially if you’re experiencing sexual problems within your relationships.

Here are some evidence-based guidelines we can extrapolate from Nagoski’s lecture:

  • Create a space for desire: When you are in the mood to establish an environment ripe for sexuality, you need to make it as suitable as possible for feelings of trust, affection, relaxation, and peace. If you and your partner haven’t been intimate in a while, don’t try to initiate something sexual on the living room couch when your roommates are due home any minute. Set up a scene with intention.
  • Communicate your turn-ons and turn-offs: Learn your own accelerating and braking factors and relay them clearly to your partner. This may take some purposeful experimentation, so keep the conversations flowing!
  • Be open to learning about your partner’s sexual desire: Learn what pushes your partner’s sexual buttons, both positively and negatively. This can be achieved at least in part through observation, but you’re definitely going to need to discuss the matter as well. Check in regularly with your partner, even if you’ve been partners for years.

Nagoski has plenty of other great insight, which she delivers with a great sense of humour, so I highly recommend you watch the entire video below for some more thoughts on developing healthy sexuality—both independently and within relationships!

Emily Nagoski - Come As You Are

 

Also check out Emily’s excellent book called, Come as You Are: The Surprising Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life.

Do you need help with your sexual relationship?

If you need help with  your sexual relationships, or any other relationship issue, contact Clinton Power + Associates for a FREE 15-minute phone inquiry call to discuss your situation and find out how we can help. Call us now on 0412 241 410 or book your free phone consult online.

Clinton Power is a relationship counsellor and Gestalt therapist with over a decade of experience helping individuals and couples move out of relationship pain and create great relationships. Get Clinton’s FREE report: 10 Tips for Moving Out of Relationship Pain, by clicking the button below.

FREE Instant Download

The post Kicking Your Sex Life into High Gear: The Dual Control Model and What It Means for Your Relationships appeared first on Clinton Power + Associates.



The #1 Communication Mistake All Couples Make

Do you keep making the same communication mistakes over and over in your relationship? Perhaps you’ve noticed some patterns where every time you try to talk to each other you end up in an argument or disagreement. The fascinating thing about working with couples for the last 15 years is I’ve noticed many couples make […] The post The #1 Communication Mistake All Couples Make appeared first on Clinton Power +...

couple communication error

Do you keep making the same communication mistakes over and over in your relationship? Perhaps you’ve noticed some patterns where every time you try to talk to each other you end up in an argument or disagreement.

The fascinating thing about working with couples for the last 15 years is I’ve noticed many couples make the same communication errors all the time.

You’re not listening

Yep, you guessed it. The #1 communication mistake all couples make is they don’t listen.

I have an essential question for you to ask yourself the next time you’re listening to your partner:

“Are you truly listening, or are you just waiting to talk?”

When you’re listening to your partner, there’s probably a good chance a lot of the time you’re just formulating what to say next.

When you’re thinking about what to say instead of listening, it’s a big problem because you’re not present to what the speaker is saying. This means you’re not hearing the message being delivered – you’re part of a monologue instead of a dialogue.

Here are my 3 tips for how to improve your communication in your relationship:

1. Set the scene for listening

It’s essential that you create an environment for effective listening. I recommend you sit directly in front of your partner, look her in the eyes, and turn off any distractions so that you can focus completely on one another.

As you’re listening to your partner, you don’t need to respond. Just listen and focus on being completely present and engaged with her.

2. Validate, acknowledge, and empathise

Now you need to do something that’s more important than sharing your own view.

Begin to respond by validating, acknowledging and empathising.

  • Validate: let your partner know what you are hearing. Affirm that you understand this is the way he see things.
  • Acknowledge: Reflect what you’re hearing as a way of letting your partner feel acknowledged.
  • Empathise: Use your skills of empathy to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and imagine what it feels like for her. You could simply say, “Oh, that sounds really awful. I’m so sorry to hear this.”

Focusing on validating and empathising will help your partner feel heard and understood.

3. Don’t solve problems or offer advice

If your partner comes to you to discuss an issue or is in distress, it can be very tempting to immediately provide solutions and give advice. It’s a natural human response to want to rescue someone who is in pain, especially someone you love.

Don’t do this. If you feel compelled to offer advice or solutions, then give your partner the option to say yes or no. You can say, “As I’m listening to you, I have some ideas and possible solutions that might be helpful for you. Would you like to hear them?”

This invitation gives your partner the opportunity to accept or decline so he can decide what would be most helpful in that moment.

If you focus on these three simple tips when you’re next communicating with your partner, your partner is more likely to feel heard, understood, and supported. And why wouldn’t you want that in any relationship?

Watch the video below of sex therapist Esther Perel speaking about which communication style intensifies conflict:

Transcript:

[00:00:05] Our conversations that will intensify conflict or the potential there of and there are conversations who will intensify understanding potentially even resolution.

[00:00:20] Conversations that are sure to polarize in which for everything you say, I come back with what I have to say without ever taking into account what you just said. You know what happens when people disagree, they literally have the capacity to listen to 10 seconds of what the other side has to say. Ten seconds that’s three sentences. And by then they’re already are busy creating their rebuttal. They are no longer listening. They are just preparing their return, their retort.

[00:00:55] When you have that kind of conversation here is what happens. One is I am constantly just going to come back at you. I am not integrating what I heard from you. And it doesn’t influence anything of what I’m saying. So basically you’re saying the same thing over and over again and I’m saying the same thing over and over again. And those two never meet. And the more I say “Eeks” the more I make you say “why?” It’s me who is reinforcing you saying the fundamental thing with which you disagree with.

[00:01:30] I come with expectations of what I think you think or may say or may want. All relationships are colored with expectations about myself and about the other. My expectations influence that which I didn’t see or hear. It is a filter as well as my mood is a filter.

[00:01:54] We in communication have the ability to set the other people up because we will draw from them the very things, which we expect from them even when it’s the opposite of what we really want. We create the others in relationships and in communication. It isn’t just that who they are and that’s who we are. That is one of the most important things to understand about relationships and communication is how people actually co-create each other in the context of a relationship and why we are not the same person with different people because those people make part of who we are.

[00:02:35] When we are in conflictual relationships, we will often be prone to negative attributions which is that when you speak to me a certain way it’s because you have a bad temper or you have a nasty personality. When I speak to you in a certain way it’s because I had a lot of traffic getting here this morning and because I’m having a bad day. You are a bad person. I have just bad circumstances. I essentialise as you and I contextualise me. All of these things will intensify conflict. It’s the opposite that will create the potential for understanding; is my ability to take in what you say; to mull it over, to include it in my response so that I make you feel that you matter. That’s what you say makes a difference. That it enters me that you’re not just talking to the wind. What is lacking is the ability to see that speaking is entirely dictated by the quality of the listening that is reflected back on us.

[00:03:42] If I am talking to someone who is on their phone I will be expressing myself and experiencing the communication completely different than if I am speaking to someone who is looking at me in the eyes, who is shaking their head, who says to me, “I get it. I understand.” Not necessarily I agree.

[00:04:03] So when you listen to me the first thing I need to know is that I have your attention. The second thing I need to know is that maybe you can acknowledge the validity of my point of view. That doesn’t mean you agree with my point of view but my point of view makes sense and potentially you may even empathise with my point of view. You can understand why I would think or feel or experience things the way I do. That reflecting back, acknowledging, validating, empathizing, that sequence is where the depth of communication takes place. Because ultimately, if I speak to you and in the end I leave feeling even more alone. I am literally in an existential crisis. There is nothing worse than to be alone in the presence of another.

Do you need relationship help?

If you need help with starting or maintaining a relationship, contact Clinton Power + Associates for a FREE 15-minute phone inquiry call to discuss your situation and find out how we can help. Call us now on 0412 241 410 or book your free phone consult online.

Clinton Power is a relationship counsellor and Gestalt therapist with over a decade of experience helping individuals and couples move out of relationship pain and create great relationships. Get Clinton’s FREE report: 10 Tips for Moving Out of Relationship Pain, by clicking the button below.

FREE Instant Download

The post The #1 Communication Mistake All Couples Make appeared first on Clinton Power + Associates.



Clinton Power + Associates Has Moved: Relationship Counselling Services in the Sydney CBD

I’m pleased to announce that Clinton Power + Associates’ Sydney office has moved to the Sydney CBD. Our office is now located in: The William Bland Centre 805/229 Macquarie St Sydney NSW 2000 While we’ve enjoyed working from our Woolloomooloo office over the last 2 years, I decided to move our office back to Macquarie […] The post Clinton Power + Associates Has Moved: Relationship Counselling Services in the Sydney CBD appeared first on Clinton Power +...

Clinton Power + Associates
805/229 Macquarie St
Sydney NSW 2000

I’m pleased to announce that Clinton Power + Associates’ Sydney office has moved to the Sydney CBD. Our office is now located in:

The William Bland Centre
805/229 Macquarie St
Sydney NSW 2000

While we’ve enjoyed working from our Woolloomooloo office over the last 2 years, I decided to move our office back to Macquarie St to increase the convenience for our Sydney CBD business and corporate clients who come for daytime appointments throughout the work day.

How to find our new Sydney CBD office

Our Sydney CBD office is in The William Bland Centre, Suite 805, Level 8, 229 Macquarie St, Sydney, NSW 2000.

Our office is a 5-minute walk from St James station or Martin Place station. If you’re walking from Wynyard or Town Hall station, allow 12-15 minutes.

The most cost-effective parking available is in the Domain Car Park, which is less than a 10-minute walk away.

When you arrive for your session, please come up to our waiting room on level 8, look for suite 805 and enter the glass door that says “Dr Rob King & Associates.” We share a waiting rooms with Dr. King, who is a mens’ health physician.

If you’re early, you may wish to have a coffee in the cafe downstairs called Legal Grounds, which serves good coffee, salads, and sandwiches through the day.

After hours appointments

The foyer to our building is locked at 6pm each night and on weekends. If your appointment is after 6pm or on a Saturday morning, please text your therapist directly when you are downstairs so he can come down and bring you up to level 8.

Do you need relationship help?

If you need help with starting or maintaining a relationship, contact Clinton Power + Associates for a FREE 15-minute phone inquiry call to discuss your situation and find out how we can help. Call us now on 0412 241 410 or book your free phone consult online.

Clinton Power is a relationship counsellor and Gestalt therapist with over a decade of experience helping individuals and couples move out of relationship pain and create great relationships. Get Clinton’s FREE report: 10 Tips for Moving Out of Relationship Pain, by clicking the button below.

FREE Instant Download

 

The post Clinton Power + Associates Has Moved: Relationship Counselling Services in the Sydney CBD appeared first on Clinton Power + Associates.



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