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Relationship Matters

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  • Clinton Power
  • January 29, 2010 08:14:53 AM
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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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STUDY: Firefighters can ease one another’s job stress, but loving spouses may increase it 

Firefighters face very high levels of job stress. This is not surprising, given they interact with people in extreme situations and are exposed to a wide range of dangers, not typical in most other professions. These stresses and difficulties, mental, physical, and emotional, have a significant impact on a firefighter’s well-being. A recent study from […] The post STUDY: Firefighters can ease one another’s job stress, but loving spouses may increase it  appeared first on...

firefighter stress

Firefighters face very high levels of job stress. This is not surprising, given they interact with people in extreme situations and are exposed to a wide range of dangers, not typical in most other professions. These stresses and difficulties, mental, physical, and emotional, have a significant impact on a firefighter’s well-being.

A recent study from Baylor University suggests that while the close friendships and camaraderie at the firehouse can help to ease the stress firefighters face on the job, their spousal relationships may be a source of increased stress.

Firefighters often build close friendships at work, couple that with the unique way firefighters interact with their workplace, and you have the makings for a strong support network.

In contrast, pressures to ‘leave it at the firehouse’ and not display their high-stress emotions at home often create a mental and emotional barrier between firefighters and their spouses, creating additional emotional stress.

Firefighters and mental health

Firefighters tend to share qualities of focusing on others, protectiveness, strength, and not being outwardly expressive. This combination often prevents them from seeking help with how they process their emotions and mental health.

Due to the combination of these personal characteristics and the high-stress nature of their work, firefighters are prone to many mental health disorders, including suicide, PTSD, depression, sleep disorders, alcoholism, anxiety, and tobacco use.

Their reluctance to access mental health support makes finding other ways to deal with their emotions and stress all the more critical.

Work relationships and the work environment for firefighters

In the study, which included male firefighters in the state of Texas, firefighters reported developing close relationships with their colleagues.

Workplace friendships between firefighters have great value in their diminished presence of competition, criticism, and conflict, which are often present and emotionally harmful in high masculinity male relationships.

Instead, researchers found that close friendships between firefighters often have more self-disclosure and conflict management. It’s more comfortable and easier to relate to similar others, for men, and close friendships with their colleagues provide that comfort and familiarity.

Their work environment is also atypical, living at work with their colleagues for days at a time. Living at the firehouse and sharing tasks such as cooking, cleaning, leisure, sleeping, showering, and maintenance builds intimacy and a ’closeness by doing’ that creates a safe space for help, trust, and empathy.

The ‘marriage effect’

While firefighters found some relief from work stress with high-quality work friends, the same was not true with their spouses.

Given the firefighter mandate to ‘leave it at the firehouse’, firefighters may feel the need to hide or fake emotions at home, presenting emotions they think are expected when asked about their work, job, or day instead. This becomes emotionally exhausting while also lessening job satisfaction.

This response to handling their high-stress emotions can create a barrier between spouses that is not present between close colleagues. It also puts the firefighter in a position where they may not feel the same support from their family, relating to their job stress, as they do with their colleagues.

Tips for firefighters in a relationship

There are a few things you can do if you’re a firefighter (or any emergency worker) in a relationship. These include:

  1. Set aside time to talk with your partner. Make time to talk to your partner on a regular basis. You can talk about your job, your relationship, dreams for the future, or whatever else you want. Not all talks have to be heavy, but the act of expressing yourself is very healthy for unburdening yourself from stress and worries. Make a regular ritual of connection through talking with your partner to help sustain your relationship.
  2. Don’t try to protect your spouse. If you’re struggling with a part of your job, or you’ve had a particularly bad day, it’s important to lean on your partner for support and express what you’re thinking and feeling. Remind your partner that all they need to do is listen to what you’re going through and you don’t need solutions. It’s likely your partner will be more than willing to let you download some of your stress.
  3. Focus on self-care. Like any profession that deals with highly stressful events and environments, it’s critical that you have good self-care habits that support your mental and physical health. Avoid common pitfalls such as heavy drinking sessions after work or using prescription medications to sleep. Instead, think exercise, yoga, meditation, sport or anything else that gives you pleasure and reduces stress. It’s these healthy self-care strategies that will support you staying in the job and doing your best under incredibly difficult circumstances.
  4. Don’t try to solve all your problems on your own. If you’ve experienced trauma on the job, such as dealing with deaths of victims, work colleagues, or any other kind of loss, you don’t have to work it all out on your own. Unprocessed trauma can evolve into PTSD, which can have a significant impact on your life. So make sure you seek professional help if you’re struggling to deal with a work situation. Many therapists are trained in working and resolving trauma and there are many therapeutic strategies that are effective in doing this.

Closing thoughts

So in summary, this study found that spousal relationships may be a source of increased stress if firefighters feel compelled to hide their job stress or appear strong and stoic in front of their partners. However, having close relationships at the fire station and at home is beneficial for overall job satisfaction and quality of work-life according to researchers.

Having close relationships at work is a positive step for emotional support. This is especially the case with firefighters. Given their tendency not to pursue mental health support while working a high-stress job, the support networks they build at work can be an important source of stress relief as well as mental and emotional regulation. This network, in turn, has a direct impact on job satisfaction experienced by firefighters.

There is a direct correlation between having strong, high-quality relationships, and positive job satisfaction. Building and maintaining those relationships is an important step not only for mental and emotional health but also for the quality of work life.

Do you need relationship help?

If you need help with your relationship, contact Clinton Power + Associates on (02) 8968 9323 to discuss your situation and find out how we can help.

The post STUDY: Firefighters can ease one another’s job stress, but loving spouses may increase it  appeared first on Clinton Power + Associates.


7 Tips to Revive the Sexual Intimacy in Your Relationship

Sexual intimacy often experiences dips or lulls as a couple goes through life together. You can’t predict the changes life will throw at you, and some are easier to handle than others. However, some challenges will take a more significant toll on your life and relationship. Long-term increased workload, stress, health problems, medication (with side […] The post 7 Tips to Revive the Sexual Intimacy in Your Relationship appeared first on Clinton Power +...

sexual intimacy

Sexual intimacy often experiences dips or lulls as a couple goes through life together. You can’t predict the changes life will throw at you, and some are easier to handle than others. However, some challenges will take a more significant toll on your life and relationship.

Long-term increased workload, stress, health problems, medication (with side effects), trauma, loss of a loved one or pet, and having children can all wreak havoc on your personal life as well as your relationship. These things have a big impact and often change the overall shape of your life.

These changes can cause you to put your relationship on the back burner while you manage this new change in your life. For short periods this is fine, but deprioritizing your relationship for a year while your partner works through a serious illness can leave you both feeling disconnected and aware of a lack of intimacy that has grown into your relationship.

Significant life changes can create a shift in expectations around sex when you and your partner were previously on the same page. This is important because different expectations can cause feelings of confusion, insecurity, and resentment.

Reconnecting with your partner

Fear not, you’re not in a hopeless situation. It’s possible to reconnect and rebuild sexual intimacy back into your relationship. The first step is to acknowledge the change, the change in your life that resulted in a change in focus. You’re juggling multiple claims on your time, and your relationship has taken a back seat.

Make a point to make time for your relationship again. This may sound easy, but it requires you to put time and effort back into your relationship. You’re effectively choosing to take your relationship off that back burner and reprioritize it again.

Here are 7 tips to help bring your sexual intimacy back to life:

  1. Date night

Lay down some ground rules for date nights to keep the focus on you, your partner, and enjoying your time together. Don’t talk about stressful things like work, your kids, health problems – date night is a time for fun, not stress. Do activities you enjoy together but also be creative. Mystery and anticipation can easily spark and rejuvenate the erotic connection you share.

  1. Arrange alone time together

Set up people in your life who are willing to lend a hand, to allow you to have some alone time with your partner and spend that time on each other and your relationship. Maybe your parents take the kids for an evening, and your friend looks after the dog, then you and your partner have no interruptions for a night, and you can focus on each other.

  1. Have a communication avenue just for flirting

Set up a private method of communicating with your partner (a text thread or an email address, remember this is private, so don’t use a work handle!) for flirty, lovey-dovey, and erotic messages only. This is supposed to be a place for fun and exciting messages, not the housekeeping of your day-to-day life.

  1. Have a late night out

Step away from your home and all the stresses of your daily life and have fun together. This is not a childish tact for younger people; it’s a dedicated way to focus on enjoyment and each other. Be silly, be spontaneous, have fun. Doing this once every 6-8 weeks is an easy way to put erotic energy back into your life.

  1. Prioritize individual alone time

Alone time together is important for building relationship intimacy, but making sure you have time for yourself is just as important. You can’t put energy into your relationship if you’re burnt out all the time. Set time aside for yourself, your interests, and your needs. Spend an evening reading a book for leisure, connect with friends, or pursue something new you’ve always wanted to do.

  1. Plan couple-time together

Date nights are great opportunities for building intimacy. Work together to plan this time. You can have one person plan the date logistics and one logistics for the household (who will look after the pet or kids etc.) or do both together. The focus should be on arranging and having a good time together.

  1. Schedule sex

This may sound dull and boring, but it can actually build anticipation. Regardless of whether you know you’ll be having sexy time that night when you get up in the morning, the pleasure and intimacy are just as enjoyable as when you don’t know it’s coming ahead of time.

It’s okay if you are struggling to reconnect after a big life change, and sexual intimacy may not be the only disconnect you are feeling now.

Working with a counsellor either individually or as a couple can help you work through this change, building upon the existing strengths in your relationship and giving you the tools to build more resilience as a couple for life’s challenges in the future.

Do you need relationship help?

If you need help with your relationship, contact Clinton Power + Associates on (02) 8968 9323 to discuss your situation and find out how we can help.

The post 7 Tips to Revive the Sexual Intimacy in Your Relationship appeared first on Clinton Power + Associates.


Book Review: We Do: Saying Yes to a Relationship of Depth, True Connection, and Enduring Love

In the book, We Do: Saying Yes to a Relationship of Depth, True Connection, and Enduring Love, psychotherapist Stan Tatkin explains how a secure-functioning relationship creates a blueprint for a successful, healthy, long-lasting love relationship. Tatkin takes a preventative approach to building committed love relationships, focusing on working through the book with your partner rather […] The post Book Review: We Do: Saying Yes to a Relationship of Depth, True Connection, and Enduring...

We Do book by Stan Tatkin

In the book, We Do: Saying Yes to a Relationship of Depth, True Connection, and Enduring Love, psychotherapist Stan Tatkin explains how a secure-functioning relationship creates a blueprint for a successful, healthy, long-lasting love relationship.

Tatkin takes a preventative approach to building committed love relationships, focusing on working through the book with your partner rather than independently.

We Do is a two-person guide to pre-commitment counselling, aimed at preparing you for the significant endeavour of a committed relationship. Tatkin suggests that the road is more successfully travelled after learning about it and showing up at the start equipped with a mutually agreed-upon roadmap.

In ten chapters, Tatkin covers the psychobiology of couple work. Psychologically, he discusses how family history and early experiences of how you bonded with others impact you today. Biologically, Tatkin explains how your brain, arousal system, and physical health influence your approach to relationships.

Based on the science of attachment theory, developmental psychology, and neuroscience, among other areas of study, We Do is a vital read for couples who want to build a successful and long-lasting relationship of love and trust.

The troublesome triad

In We Do, Tatkin speaks about issues that affect most couples, including what he calls the troublesome triad of memory, perception, and communication. These are the three main areas that cause conflict in relationships. Tatkin says a basic knowledge of these areas can go a long way to preventing them from derailing your relationship.

Here’s a summary of each area:

Memory

  • Your memory is flawed and imperfect
  • Your state of being drives your memory, your memory drives your state of being, and your state of being alters your perception of what’s happening
  • Emotions affect your memory by changing it, and your memory affects your emotions by changing them
  • Recalling memories changes them based on how you feel in the moment of recall, creating less perfection the more times something’s recalled
  • Understanding that memory is flawed can create less insistence of being right based on what you remember or whose memory is correct
  • “Our memory isn’t what we think it is, and both partners need to own this truth.”

Perception

  • Your state of being drives your memory, your memory drives your state of being, and your state of being alters your perception of what’s happening
  • Perception is what you think is happening, not what’s actually happening
  • The words “There’s a lot of blood” heard from around the corner, may cause the perception that you’re about to walk in on the gore and result of some violent act when in reality, two workers for the blood bank are taking inventory on what they collected that day

Communication

  • Words mean different things to different people
  • Misinterpreting language is a universal problem
  • Assimilation is when we understand something new within the context we already know (easier)
  • Accommodation is when we change our way of thinking about new information, to understand it (harder)
  • “We naturally attempt to understand what others mean through our own lens.”
  • Communication is an approximation of following someone else’s mind

These three areas all work together to guide your interactions with and interpretation of cues from your partner. You make errors in these areas constantly, and that’s okay, but understanding how these areas work and affect your experience can help you improve your interactions in these three areas, and with your partner.

Styles of relating

Styles of relating are a different name for our attachment styles. These were talked about at length in Tatkin’s book, Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build a Secure Relationship, which I previously reviewed here.

In We Do, Tatkin explains how the quality of attachment, either secure or insecure, affects your relationship with your partner. Your attachment style develops from your childhood experiences (between your primary caregiver and you) and carries into adulthood, impacting your loving relationships. “Attachment has to do with safety and security in our most primary relationships,” Tatkin says.

The negative brain

The brain has a negative bias: “in the absence of positive interaction with others, it will always go negative.” The brain is a very complex organ and has many systems that contribute to this bias.

In We Do, Tatkin discusses the strengths and flaws of how your brain regulates itself using primitives and ambassadors, nervous system regulation strategies, the sympathetic nervous system, and the parasympathetic nervous system.

Furthermore, Tatkin’s book also covers how you and your partner depend on each other for nervous system regulation, helping each other to balance energy and emotion, including co-managing distress as well as interpersonal stress.

The wrap-up and the book

Love relationships are complicated and challenging, as managing a two-person system is much more intricate than one person. We Do: Saying Yes to a Relationship of Depth, True Connection, and Enduring Love can give you and your partner the tools and skills to build a lasting relationship now and for all life’s challenges in the future together.

If you’re interested in finding out more, you can buy Stan Tatkin’s book We Do: Saying Yes to a Relationship of Depth, True Connection, and Enduring Love on Amazon.

We do by Stan Tatkin

Do you need relationship help?

If you need help with your relationship, contact Clinton Power + Associates on (02) 8968 9323 to discuss your situation and find out how we can help.

The post Book Review: We Do: Saying Yes to a Relationship of Depth, True Connection, and Enduring Love appeared first on Clinton Power + Associates.


How Cyber-Cheating Can Threaten Your Relationship

There’s never been a time in history where you can lay in bed next to your partner and cheat. The use of smartphones and social media has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for cheating. It used to be that cheating was when you were having sex with someone who isn’t your partner. […] The post How Cyber-Cheating Can Threaten Your Relationship appeared first on Clinton Power +...

cyber cheating

There’s never been a time in history where you can lay in bed next to your partner and cheat. The use of smartphones and social media has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for cheating. It used to be that cheating was when you were having sex with someone who isn’t your partner. Now the lines of what is and isn’t cheating are more blurred.

What is and isn’t cheating in a relationship needs to be defined by the people in that relationship. For example, some partners may not consider sexting with someone else to be cheating. Some couples have a look but don’t touch rule or allow flirting with others but no suggestive or sexual touching. And cheating can occur in an open relationship if one partner breaks the relationship agreement. Can you see how complex this is?

The rules or freedoms in your relationship can be whatever you and your partner are both comfortable with. Cheating becomes a problem if someone breaks those rules without consulting their partner or agreeing that the new or extra actions are okay first.

How do you define cheating?

Cheating is when one person has violated the agreed-upon boundaries of how both partners will and won’t interact with someone who is not their partner. This is not limited to sexual interactions. Although most people connect cheating to sex, cheating can also be emotional.

Cheating is when you go outside of your relationship to fill a need that is expected by both partners to be filled inside your relationship. If you are putting more energy into a relationship activity that is outside of your relationship than you are that same activity inside your relationship, this will cause distance and discord in your relationship and can hurt your partner.

Some examples of physical cheating may (or may not) include:

  • Sex
  • Explicit sexual touching
  • Implicit sexual touching
  • Flirting
  • Sexually suggestive acts or acts designed to cause sexual arousal

Some examples of emotional cheating may (or may not) include:

  • Talking about emotional problems you would usually discuss with your partner
  • Building high-level emotional intimacy, that takes away from the intimacy in your relationship
  • Talking about intimate details of your marriage or spouse
  • Hiding a new relationship, or aspects of the new relationship, from your partner

If you’re asking yourself “is this cheating?”, be honest with yourself about why you are engaging in that activity and what you expect to get out of it. If the answer is a violation of your current agreed-upon relationship boundaries, that action is cheating.

If you don’t know if the answer is a violation of your relationship boundaries, talk to your partner. It may be that you haven’t talked about certain boundaries before. Be open and clarify boundaries before things get out of hand and someone gets hurt.

Cheating on social media

With the invention of social media, there’s a whole new group of behaviours that can now facilitate cheating. This can include everything from sexting and private messages to sexual pictures and using dating sites while in a relationship.

The key factor of cheating that social media facilitates is secrecy. When people start flirty, romantic, or sexual relationships through Facebook or Instagram, this is called online infidelity. Sending private messages on these platforms allows people to keep conversations hidden. Friending friends of friends allows people to initiate flirtatious conversations with strangers without arousing suspicion.

There are also many apps and websites available that are dedicated to dating or hookups. These are great for connecting singles, but they can also be used by a partner who is already in a relationship. Maybe your flirting is harmless, maybe you don’t mean anything by viewing your Tindr matches every now and again, but if these actions are outside of the agreed-upon boundaries of your relationship then it is cheating.

Technology and social media aid more sexually explicit forms of cheating as well. Phone sex, video sex, sending sexual pictures, and sexting can all be done with nothing more than a handheld device. This allows for more discretion and a certain level of anonymity, that makes sexual rendezvous and encounters more easily accessible.

Deciding what is okay

It’s important that you and your partner talk about what is and isn’t okay in your relationship. Setting your boundaries on what you do and don’t consider infidelity is the first step to preventing it in your relationship. These lines need to be agreed on by both of you and mutually respected.

For example, is it okay to flirt with other people? If not, when does that become a rule in the relationship? Do you delete your dating account or app when you start dating? If not, what point in the relationship does that become an expectation?

Forcing your boundaries on someone else who doesn’t share the same values won’t work. But understanding what their actions mean – and don’t mean – to them can help you both feel more secure in your relationship.

It’s essential that the rules you both agree on are followed and maintained by both partners. This is a key step to building trust in your relationship. Cheating is a violation of trust, so building this strong foundation will help both partners to feel more safe and secure in the relationship.

The take-away

Cheating doesn’t mean the same things for everyone; how it is defined will vary from couple to couple. It’s important that you and your partner set out your boundaries and define what cheating is to you as a couple. Cheating can be sexual, emotional, or both and happens when one person has violated the agreed-upon boundaries of how both partners agree not to interact with someone who is not their partner. Cheating is a violation of trust, so having a strong foundation of trust in your relationship will allow both you and your partner to feel safe and secure in the relationship.

Do you need relationship help?

If you need help with your relationship, contact Clinton Power + Associates on (02) 8968 9323 to discuss your situation and find out how we can help.

The post How Cyber-Cheating Can Threaten Your Relationship appeared first on Clinton Power + Associates.


How to Set Healthy Boundaries to Improve Your Intimate Relationship

Boundaries are necessary for all relationships, including your intimate relationships. There’s a common misconception that boundaries prevent intimacy in relationships, but in fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Many people think that boundaries are like fences, preventing people from coming into your space and therefore stopping intimate bonds from forming. Instead, boundaries are […] The post How to Set Healthy Boundaries to Improve Your Intimate Relationship appeared...

healthy boundaries

Boundaries are necessary for all relationships, including your intimate relationships. There’s a common misconception that boundaries prevent intimacy in relationships, but in fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Many people think that boundaries are like fences, preventing people from coming into your space and therefore stopping intimate bonds from forming. Instead, boundaries are more like state lines. It’s the distinction between one place and another, or one person and another.

You have to be aware of them because rules and laws change from state to state, so crossing from one state to another will change the expectations for how you behave. It’s the same with people, knowing someone’s boundaries means you’re aware of how they need you to behave around them, in order for them to feel comfortable and open up to you.

When you treat someone in a way that allows them to comfortably open up around you, you can then build intimacy together. Therefore, setting and maintaining healthy boundaries actually facilitates intimacy.

What are boundaries?

Boundaries are healthy and respectful guidelines that define your needs, separate from your partner’s needs. A boundary is generally defined as a limit or line that separates you and another person. We don’t all have the same likes or dislikes, vulnerabilities, or insecurities. Therefore, we all need different things – different boundaries – in our relationships.

For example, maybe when you come home from work you like to immediately talk about your day with your partner. However, your partner needs to have some quiet time to unwind from the workday before they are ready to talk and engage with you.

Both needs are healthy, but if your partner doesn’t tell you they need down time to transition from work to home before they are ready to engage with you, you might not realise they have a need that is different from yours. You might accidentally violate their boundaries without meaning to.

Boundaries are a simple and clear way to define how we are different from the other people in our lives. When defined, established, and maintained in a healthy manner, boundaries enable us to create relationships built on mutual trust and respect. They are a first step to managing conflict, understanding one another, and building intimacy in relationships.

What are healthy boundaries?

Healthy boundaries are boundaries that build intimacy. They eliminate distance and barriers between partners, while allowing both people to feel emotionally comfortable and safe with the other person. They also allow each person to maintain a sense of self, separate from their partner.

Healthy boundaries have many benefits, such as improved self-esteem and self-respect. They allow you to have a balanced partnership, where both partners are heard and respected, and both partners share equal power in the relationship.

Empowerment and a sense of safety are other important advantages to healthy boundaries. Maintaining healthy boundaries ensures your physical, mental, and emotional needs and limits are not violated. They also gain you the freedom to be assertive. You can truthfully say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ without suffering any feelings of fear or guilt for expressing what you need.

Some examples of healthy boundaries include:

  • Clearly expressing what you are and are not comfortable with
  • Telling someone ‘no’ when they do, say, or ask for something outside of your limits
  • Recognising and feeling that your needs and wants are valid and deserving respect
  • Feeling mentally, physically, and emotionally safe around another person

What are unhealthy boundaries?

There are constructive boundaries that help you define your needs and differences separate from your partner’s, and there are boundaries that build up walls and create distance between you and your partner. Unhealthy boundaries are boundaries that make you feel like there is an emotional barrier or chasm between you and your partner.

These boundaries are often derived from feelings of fear, guilt, or an undefined sense of self. Unhealthy boundaries will make you feel powerless and unable to say ‘no’ when you feel uncomfortable or when someone has violated your limits. You may take on responsibility for your partner’s happiness, and feel that if they’re unhappy, it’s your fault.

Not sharing your needs and wants is another signal that you have set unhealthy boundaries. If you don’t share and assert your needs with your partner, you’re not opening up. This removes the opportunity to build intimacy with your partner, and for them to build intimacy with you.

Some examples of unhealthy boundaries include:

  • Stonewalling or refusing to respond or answer questions in order to control conversations
  • A lack of concern or respect for your needs and feelings
  • Putting someone else’s needs and happiness before your own
  • Allowing people to treat you in a way that makes you feel badly about yourself
  • Constantly smothering your partner and not allowing them to be autonomous

How boundaries improve your intimate relationship

Setting boundaries can be hard as it is something many of us are not taught to do. Healthy boundaries can improve your sense of self and the level of comfort you feel in your relationship. Boundaries help to build trust and respect in relationships.

You are a different person from your partner, and therefore you have different needs. Healthy boundaries allow both of you to express and take responsibility for your individual needs. The process of establishing boundaries allows you to learn more about and build intimacy with each other.

How to have good boundaries in your relationship

These guidelines will help you define, express, and maintain healthy personal boundaries with your partner.

  1. Know yourself and your limits

Identify what you can tolerate mentally, emotionally, and physically. It’s important to know what you are comfortable with and where the line is that changes that comfort into discomfort or distress.

  1. Be aware of your feelings

Take the time to listen to your body and your emotions. If you feel uncomfortable about something, this is a sign you have exceeded your limits. Everyone’s limits are different, this is something you must feel for yourself, not something someone else can tell you.

  1. Be clear about your needs

You’ve identified your needs, own them. Clearly express what you need to, from, and with your partner. You’re showing them how to make you feel comfortable mentally, physically, and emotionally. More boundaries for you doesn’t mean less boundaries for them, so don’t be apologetic. You deserve happiness and comfort, too.

  1. Boundaries and love coexist

Express your love while maintaining your boundaries. Saying when you are uncomfortable or that your boundaries have been violated does not mean you do not love your partner. An easy way to ensure your partner still feels loved when you’re expressing your discomfort is to tell them.

For example, “I love going for walks with you in the evening. I like to relax and have a cup of tea right after dinner, though. Let’s take the dogs for a walk instead of letting them out in the yard before locking up for the night and we can all walk together then”.

Avoid saying “I love you, but…”. Tell them what part of the interaction you love, say what you need, and offer an alternative way to do things that meets your needs.

  1. Be calm, firm, and concise

Setting boundaries is something that should happen when you’re calm. Don’t set boundaries when you’re emotional. This allows you to stay your course. You’re expressing your needs, which is an important thing to do, so don’t apologise or backpedal.

Get right to the point. If you need alone time, say you need alone time. Unclear communication will only confuse your partner.

  1. Listen and keep communication open

Your partner has boundaries too and they need to feel their limits are being respected as well. Maintaining boundaries requires you both to be able to talk about and listen to each other’s needs.

The take-away

Boundaries can be difficult to establish but they’re an important step in allowing you to feel good about yourself and feel good in the relationships in your life. Building healthy boundaries with your partner will help improve respect, trust, and intimacy in your relationship.

Do you need relationship help?

If you need help with your relationship, contact Clinton Power + Associates on (02) 8968 9323 to discuss your situation and find out how we can help.

 

The post How to Set Healthy Boundaries to Improve Your Intimate Relationship appeared first on Clinton Power + Associates.


How to Use a Time-out to De-escalate Conflict in Your Relationship

All couples have disagreements and fights at one time or another. Conflicts happen in all relationships and that’s okay. It’s important to express your thoughts, feelings, and needs even if you’re unhappy. So, having conflict in your relationship is never the issue. What’s more important is how you manage the conflict and whether you repair […] The post How to Use a Time-out to De-escalate Conflict in Your Relationship appeared first on Clinton Power +...

relationship time-out

All couples have disagreements and fights at one time or another. Conflicts happen in all relationships and that’s okay.

It’s important to express your thoughts, feelings, and needs even if you’re unhappy. So, having conflict in your relationship is never the issue. What’s more important is how you manage the conflict and whether you repair quickly.

But sometimes in a disagreement you may find yourself so frustrated, overwhelmed, or angry that you feel like you’re going to explode. If you feel like demons are about to come out of your mouth, you’re going to say something hurtful to your partner, or you’re feeling so many emotions that you can’t think straight, this is the point when you need to step back and call a time-out.

What is a time-out?

A time-out isn’t just a cool down period for an angry five-year-old, it’s a constructive technique for conflict resolution.

A time-out is a simple and effective way to pause an emotional conversation before someone has an uncontrolled outburst. This is important because these outbursts can be hurtful and are not conducive to resolving the conflict. A time-out is a break in the conversation so that the partner who is losing control of their emotions can step away and calm down.

What happens when you fight?

Let’s talk about what happens in the brain that causes you to ‘flip our lid’ or lose control of your emotions.

In an emotionally charged situation, such as a disagreement or argument, you can experience a phenomenon called Diffuse Physiological Arousal (DPA).

DPA, also commonly known as ‘flooding’  exhibits all the same symptoms as a fight, flight, or freeze response.

One of the first signs that you’re becoming flooded is your heart-rate rises above 95 beats per minute (85 if you’re athletic). So, arguing with someone can trigger your “emotional brain” to hijack a situation from your “thinking brain” and react to the disagreement with a fight or flight response.

This feels overwhelming. You stop thinking, you are flooded with too much information, and you act without conscious decision. Physically, your heart rate will pick up, your breathing will become fast and shallow, and your palms may become sweaty. You will also feel like you are losing control.

Dr. Daniel Siegel has a great explanation for the process of what happens to the brain when you ‘flip your lid’. Watch his explanation in the video below.

When you start experiencing the physical symptoms of flooding or notice that you are having a hard time thinking clearly, that’s your body’s alarm system letting you know that you need to step back and take a time-out.

It’s important to not continue a disagreement if you are flooded with emotions because you lose the ability to think rationally. You become more prone to outbursts based on irrational emotions and your contribution to the disagreement will no longer be conducive to resolving the problem or constructively expressing your point of view. It’s best to take a time-out so you can calm down and then revisit the disagreement when you can once again be rational and focus on resolving the conflict.

How to take a time-out

Therapist Terry Real outlines a set of rules to help you execute a time-out in a way that will give you or your partner the space you need to calm down, while ensuring the conflict is still resolved in a way that addresses everyone’s needs.

  1. Initiate the time-out

 A time-out is initiated with a combination of verbal cues and gestures:

Verbal cues

  • “I need to take a break from this conversation.”
  • “Time-out.”

Non-verbal gestures

  • Making a T sign with your hands
  • Putting your hand(s) up, palm out, in front of your chest in a non-threatening manner

It’s important that once the time-out is initiated, it’s acted upon and respected by both people immediately. This means you both stop the discussion immediately. No last words, no more comments – the fight has stopped for now.

  1. Establishing a timeline for checking in

Agree on a time limit when both people agree to check back in with each other. A time-out should be no less than 20 minutes and no more than 24 hours. A best practice is to start small, and then if you need more time, communicate that at the end of the agreed upon time limit. Gradual increases for a time-out interval include:

  • 20-30 minutes
  • 1-2 hours
  • Half a day
  • A whole day
  • Overnight

If no time is discussed, have a mutual understanding that the default time apart is 20 minutes.

  1. Separate and focus on self-soothing

Once the time-out has been called, you then spend time away from each other.

Pick an activity that you find soothing and do that for the duration of the time-out in a space where you cannot see or hear the other person. It’s critical that you both focus on self-soothing during this time. Don’t go over the fight in your mind or rehearse what you want to say or wish you had said. Now is the time for calming yourself.

Some examples of self-soothing activities include:

  • listening to soothing music
  • walking the dog
  • reading a book
  • going for a run/bicycle ride or any exercise
  • watching a favourite show
  • meditating or breathing exercises
  • doing chores
  • stretching or yoga

It’s helpful to have a list of self-soothing activities that work for you handy, such as creating a list on your smartphone. Start with 10 activities that you can pick from whenever you feel flooded but feel free to keep adding to your list.

  1. Check-in

When the agreed upon time for the time-out is up, check-in with each other. This does not need to be face-to-face, it could be on the phone.

The check in does not mean the time-out is over – it means it’s time to check with each other and see if everyone is calm and collected, or if more time is needed to cool off. If you’re still flooded with emotions and feel out of control, extend the time-out. If you started with 20 minutes, move up to the next time interval and have another check-in in an hour.

  1. Resolve the conflict

A time-out is not the conclusion of an argument. Once you have calmed down, you do need to revisit the disagreement and resolve the conflict in an effective manner.

However, the subject that triggered the initial argument should not be discussed for at least 24 hours after reconnecting. Give yourselves some time to focus on your relationship, above and beyond the disagreement.

Conclusion

Arguing with your partner is normal and healthy. It’s an important step to communicating conflicting points of view. However, getting so worked up that you can’t control yourself in an emotionally charged situation is not healthy and sometimes it’s not safe if the fight escalates.

If you feel like you’re about to lose control or you feel flooded with emotions, call a time-out. This is a safe and respectful way to give yourself time to calm down and prevents disagreements from becoming harmful. It allows you to revisit the subject when you can both be rational and calm and resolve the conflict peacefully.

Do you need relationship help?

If you need help with your relationship, contact Clinton Power + Associates on (02) 8968 9323 to discuss your situation and find out how we can help.

The post How to Use a Time-out to De-escalate Conflict in Your Relationship appeared first on Clinton Power + Associates.


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