Who hasn't encountered the typical end of the day scenario, when everyone in the family seems to be at the end of their tether, because of a rough and stressful day? We often take out our personal stresses on our partner or family, not realising there are very useful strategies which could reduce stress within our communication.
Spending time together at the end of the day, to talk about how the day went for each of you, can help manage the stress in life which is not related to the relationship.
To ensure this conversation has a calming-down effect, here are some guidelines
- Talk about whatever is on your mind outside your relationship.
- Take turns to be the talker (or complainer!) for 10 minutes each.
- Show genuine interest in what your partner is saying. Ask questions. Use good eye contact and minimal encouragers such as “Uh-huh” and nodding.
- Take your partner’s side, even if you think their perspective is unreasonable. This is the time for emotional support, not analysis. (That may come later if desired.)
- Express a “we against others” attitude.
- Don’t give unwanted advice. Avoid saying, “That’s not such a big issue. Why don’t you just…” (If you think advice is appropriate, check this. Ask whether they want you just to listen or to brainstorm solutions.)
- Express affection in ways your partner appreciates, by touch or words.
Validate your partner’s emotions, to show they make sense to you. “That’s so sad... That would worry me too… I can see you’re really upset.”
Allowing your partner to vent will reduce their stress and speed up their process of returning to more rational thoughts and positive feelings. If you avoid responses like the first, third, and fifth, your partner will probably start problem-solving about the issues more quickly than they would if you tried to point out all their errors!
This calming conversation can strengthen your relationship and make it harder to knock off course in the future.
-- Denise Reichenbach is an Educator and Counsellor with Relationships Australia Queensland, and runs regular courses.--
Denise's upcoming courses at our Spring Hill venue are:
STEPFAMILY REALITIES: Tuesdays, 7 Oct-11 Nov
RELATIONSHIP MATTERS: Wednesdays, 15 Oct-19 Nov
BUILDING BETTER RELATIONSHIPS: Mondays, 13 Oct-17 Nov