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Communication: it comes in many forms

Some time ago Coupleworks decided to set up a Twitter account and it has been a fascinating experience. We were curious and proceeded cautiously – wondering whether anything worthwhile could come from a message limited by 140 characters. But we now follow over a thousand, carefully selected, accounts and have been struck by the depth and diversity of ideas and opinions. Our focus is ‘relationships’ and a link can lead to a challenging or thought-provoking article, an interesting blog, or a review of a book that we might have missed.

But surprisingly, perhaps, just couple of sentences can have an impact too. A tweet can cause us to pause to reflect on an opinion; or stop to check in on our state of mind. It can allow for a brief emotional MOT when, usually, busy lives don’t offer much time for introspection. Sometimes a pertinent tweet can register, catch our attention, and act as a signpost for action or a change. Many messages, apparently simple and throwaway, have a sub-text that stays and resonates.

By posting ourselves, and retweeting things we find interesting, our hope is to challenge assumptions, initiate a conversation, and trigger interest in the possibilities of counselling to continue the discussion.

Looking through our recent history I have picked out a few examples that may be worthy of consideration:

1. A relationship ‘is two people trying to dance a duet, and two solos, at the same time’.
2. Don’t ‘hit below the belt’. Harsh, critical, and unkind words can stick and damage trust in a relationship. Manage your responses when you are angry or stay quiet until you feel calmer.
3. Criticism is a really poor way of asking for change. Make a request.
4. We have a tendency ‘to want the other person to be the finished product while we give ourselves the grace to evolve’.
5. We long for intuitive understanding – but so does our partner. This requires each to express genuine interest and be prepared to really listen.
6. Don’t just blame – negotiate and find a remedy. Problems are not solved by just complaining.
7. Be curious not judgemental. The situation is probably much more complex than you imagine. Go below the surface and find out more.
8. We expect a ‘good relationship’ to mean ‘it should just happen’ or ‘it should be easy’. In fact it needs constant care and attention. We need to be adept at noticing when change is required – and the ability to be flexible in adapting.
9. A strong relationship requires ‘two people to choose to love each other even on days when they struggle to like each other’. It needs both to choose to stay on the same team and choose not become at logger-heads.
10. We can get stuck in behaviour patterns and repeat the same responses to situations even though we know they don’t work and they lead to the same conflict.
11. Small positive changes have a way of morphing into significant generous gestures.
12. Find the humour. It’s impossible to laugh and remain defended.

With the recognition that issues often deserve deeper exploration, the counselling room can be a place which offers the safety and space for talking and listening. In a supportive counselling environment, a couple can unravel and accept the complexities of their relationship, understand the needs of their partner, and allow hurts to be repaired. It’s all about communication!

Kathy Rees