Murals (2008) by PHANTAST - Graffiti - Cultural Music & Art Association inc. - 98 Milne St. Benleigh

Living in a close relationship with another person can be a source of comfort, support and fun and also, at times, a source of distress, frustration and despair.

Close relationships typically go through phases of development with normal highs and lows in attraction, energy and enthusiasm. The fluctuations in relationship satisfaction are also influenced by other factors, including our own level of tiredness, skills in communicating, problem solving and managing stress, our ability to deal with outside pressures such as work, family, finances and our dreams, goals and expectations for our owen life and our relationship. 

A.  POOR COMMUNICATION. This is an area identified in practically all problems within relationships. The way people talk (or don't talk) to one another can cause a lot of distress and tension within a relationship. Some negative patterns have been identified:

1. Being demanding or withdrawing when communicating - this is where one person adopts a demanding, intrusive or pushy communicating style and the other partner withdraws or refuses to communicate in response.

2. Using negative emotions and negative labels when communicating - this is where a person uses negative emotions, such a anger or sadness, to manipulate the other person. Labeling occurs when you use general/ global terms about your partner - such as "lazy", "stupid", "annoying" to describe him or her, as opposed to describing the behaviour of the person.

3. Not acknowledging each other's concerns - this occurs when a person does not respond, ignores or does not acknowledge the other partner, to show concern and understanding. They may be distracted by excessive noise or competing demands (i.e. television).

B.  POOR PROBLEM SOLVING. Common problems encountered when trying to problem solve include:

1.  Failing to identify the actual problem - often we fail to recognize what the problem really is. For example, in relationships often we think that our partner may not be very pleasant any more and may not  like us, when in actual fact the real problem may not be that, bur rather he or she is not getting enough rest and  there is a lack of quality time together.

2. Not thinking widely for all possible solutions before choosing one - often we jump to conclusions about how to fix something without thinking about all the options. One partner may think that a big holiday is needed to fix things and overlook little daily changes that could be made to bring about the same improvements. Similarly, we often think about ways to earn more money rather than cutting back on costly lifestyle choices.

3. Not discussing and involving your partner in selecting, implementing and reviewing the strategy - sometimes we try and solve relationship problems without involving our partner. We deny him or her the opportunity to be involved and share the process and may tend to blame one another when things don't work our, rather than working together on issues.  (To be continued) (The Australian Psychological Society 'Good Thinking')

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