Discussion Times for Couples or Others needing to make an effort to get along
- Make short pre-arranged times to come together to discuss a few things so that people can prepare for this instead of having things sprung on them. Obviously ensure this is a good time for all, so that it doesn’t clash with favourite programmes or things that need doing.
- Prioritise just a few of the most important things needing discussion so that no one feels overloaded. You could make a few headings for things to come under (much like an agenda), such as Finance, House Management, Relationships.
- Make it a rule that everyone gets a fair turn, and others listen properly, but no one is allowed to waffle on too long, they must learn to be concise.
- Also, if anyone becomes too emotionally worked up, it is better to call a short break, walk about, stretch, get drinks etc, before continuing.
- The main thing about this as that everyone learns to trust each other to try to make this a constructive thing to do, that isn’t stressful, so keeping it short and fair is very important.
- Bear in mind that not everything has an answer, so don’t expect too much from your partner – sometimes it is okay to accept that there may not be an obvious solution to an issue, although that should not be used as an excuse to not give things due consideration.
- Also remember, that while you can ask others to consider your needs, you cannot necessarily expect them to fulfil them. Obviously everyone can try to take things into consideration to a point, but relationships are not there for fulfilling each other’s needs, they are for working together as a team, and loving with freedom to let each other be who they are in themselves, and each person should aim to be self empowered rather than too dependent on each other.
- Look for small steps rather than expecting everything to happen at once – for example, to arrange to pay small amounts on each bill until there is more income (or prioritise the most important bills), or go to the park if you can’t afford to go out for dinner to spend time together. Don’t assume your partner will only accept big solutions, don’t be afraid to suggest compromises.
- Try not to criticise each other – show what you do like by giving compliments and showing appreciation etc, for example “I loved the way you texted me out of the blue today, it made me feel so cared for”, or “Thank you for listening so carefully to my feelings”, and you could always ask them if there is anything they would like to share in return.
- Always try to leave room for each person to express themselves without interruption, as long as they don’t overdo it. If things get too much, then ask for a break, or suggest that they speak about it again when they have better collected their thoughts so that they can be more concise and clear, or so that the emotional levels are cooled a little. Don’t continue if you are becoming distraught, but do promise to speak / listen again when things are more calm, and things can be expressed better. Writing things down can help take the emotional heat out of it, and also help you clarify which bits are important, so that you can prioritise a few points and present them as clearly and concisely as possible. This is also a good thing to do if your mind is going over something at night to prevent you from sleeping, or anytime you are upset. (Sometimes a first draft of what we write would be long and emotional, but a second draft would be much shorter and make more logical sense, so you would never show the first draft to anyone else as it would only confuse things.)
- Try to leave room after your meeting to relax before going to bed. It is always better to go to sleep on good terms, rather than stew all night. It is much harder to regain a warm outlook towards each other if you have left it until the next morning. So reassure each other after your meeting, that you are done with the discussion for now, and anything else can be set aside until next time, etc. Maybe there is something you could add to help, like some relaxing music, or even meditation? Or rubbing each others backs in a warm bath?
- However, don’t always carry things over to next time, do try to conclude some things at each meeting, otherwise the meetings will become a drag. Okay, so if you did not find a solution for something at one meeting, and people have agreed to think about it until the next one, then it is okay to have it on the agenda again, to see if any bright ideas or different perspectives have emerged, but don’t dwell on something too much. Of course some things that need doing in stages or steps will have to come up again, for example revising payment plans, or if you have paid off one bill, then you would want to agree how to redirect the funds no longer needed for that one, etc, but these are generally the more practical things.
- Even though you leave space to settle down after a meeting before bed, it may not be the best night for sex, but remember that a cuddle does not have to mean sex. Closeness should be shown in many other ways. It is better to have warmth and friendship between you than to feel pressure to perform, then when you do want to try sex, it will come more naturally.
- Massage is a wonderful way to show your caring side and to treat each other (make sure it goes both ways, unless one prefers an alternative reciprocation, but it doesn’t have to necessarily be the same time, so one could be treated one night and the other the next, for example). It does not have to be a huge thing, just a few caresses or strokes is better than nothing. A few strokes, or even just a warm hand resting on you, can release a lot of tension from the body. Don’t forget the head and face, these are areas people don’t often get touched outside of intimate relationships.
- Respect is vitally important. Respect for yourself as well as for each other. So each person is making an effort in the relationship (or team), and in their own lives, and feels they have a right to speak and to be heard – so you do listen to each other as long as they do not treat you disrespectfully. If anyone has trouble with self esteem, they should perhaps consider getting some help with this. Our pasts can have a huge influence on our behaviour, especially if we have been treated badly, and we may need help to move beyond certain patterns and to feel more empowered (in a balanced way, that does not try to control others).
- Meditations and visualisations can be wonderful tools to use individually and as a couple. They can enhance your sense of deeper self, and all your relationships (family, friends, work, etc.) I have several of these available on you tube, including an anger management one, and I will be continuing to add more.
- There are some simple things you can do here – before your meeting you could sit facing each other for a moment, maybe holding hands, and close your eyes. Breathe deeply and call up your love to help you be calm and gentle at your meeting, so that it can be a successful / positive experience for all. You could even say something out loud, such as “I promise to try to be calm and loving”, or “I promise to honour and respect you and listen to your points of view, and I ask you to do the same for me.” Call on each other’s highest (deep) selves to be present. You could also do a similar thing at the end of the meeting, for example, holding hands in a circle, and saying “Thank you” and sharing your love in the same way, silently for a moment, blessing your relationship.
- Children can be included in family discussion times from quite an early age, so that they feel empowered to have a say, learn about responsibilities, and share feelings.
Blessing to all, Julia Woodman
Any suggestions to add? Please feel free to comment.