You will have your own story and your own patterns that play out, but see read through this story and see if you can recognise any patterns could be affecting your relationship.

“Karen and David (names changed) came for help because their marriage had been deteriorating since Karen started her business and David took more responsibility in raising their two children. When I saw them she was frustrated and accused him of not pulling his weight, not supporting her, and of being passive aggressive when she tried to get him to cooperate.

David, on the other hand, was withdrawn and defensive, and avoided communicating directly about any of the issues Karen was raising.

It soon became obvious that Karen was a perfectionist who had fixed ideas on how things should be, and was continually criticising him when he did various jobs. David, on the other hand, feared confrontation and would withdraw into himself and stop communicating. So they did exactly what most couples do. They focused on each other and were trying to force each other to change, and then getting stressed because it was not happening.

It was a real challenge to turn away from blaming each other and take responsibility for changing their own patterns, but as they did so then the whole situation started to improve. Two simple yet powerful changes made the difference. Karen started to accept that her way of doing things was not the only way, and then healed the fear of losing control that was triggered by letting go. David learned that it was safe to express his feelings, and healed the fear of being rejected.

This did not happen overnight but they did the work and learned new ways to support each other and within six months they were enjoying the relationship they had dreamed of but which had always eluded them.”

Now there are some key principles here which we need to understand if we want to improve our relationship and really make it sizzle and sparkle.

1. Each of us brings our own patterns into a relationship and we just automatically act them out. This is what we have learned in life, and it is often all that we know. So when an issue arises we do what we have always done whether it works or not. The real problem is that most of us have blind spots when it comes to our patterns and we cannot see or feel what they are doing to our partner. It is so much easier to minimise or ignore our patterns and point the finger, which takes us to pattern number two.

2. This is that we focus on the other person, and blame them, or their patterns, for the challenges we are facing. This is often clothed in a strong demand that he or she should be a certain way, and because they are not, then it is their fault. I have literally heard people say, “If only he (she) would do this .... then everything would be fine.” What we do not realise is that these demands can be experienced as an attack, and most people will get defensive when they feel they are being attacked or judged. They then go further into their patterns and the whole issue escalates.

3. The third challenge is that there is usually fear operating and that will drive all your communication and reactions until you expose it and dissolve it. Nobody likes to feel fear, and the knee-jerk reaction is often to get angry at the person who triggers the fear. We tell ourselves subconsciously, “If he, or she, would only be like this then I would feel no fear, and everything would be fine.” You may not put it in those words but that is the subtle message you are giving yourself, and them.

4. And the fourth issue is that the real needs on both sides do not get acknowledged or met, and you can be left feeling frustrated, confused, scared and stressed.

This question of needs is so important. If you think about any arguments or stress in your relationship you will find that all your reactions, feelings and behaviour will be because you feel some need is not being met. It could be the need to feel safe, the need to be heard, to know you are loved, to feel you have value, the need for connection, the need to be taken seriously, the need to have control over your environment, the need to feel good about yourself, and many more.

When you believe your needs are not being met you will automatically feel stressed and will be strongly tempted to react in your usual ways, and they are doing the same. In the resulting conflict none of these needs get met and nothing gets resolved. It can start to feel like ground-hog day and before long the sparkle has disappeared from the relationship.

What can you do about it? Here are a few suggestions.

1. Learn to take responsibility for the part your patterns
are playing in the conflict, and decide what changes may
be necessary.

2. Acknowledge that there may be fear running for you and
get some help, if necessary, to heal the fear.

3. Identify what needs are not being met and how that makes
you feel. This is often where the fear comes in.

4. Learn how to express your feelings without blaming them.
For example, saying something like, “You really make me
mad,” does not help at all. They will immediately feel
judged and attacked. It is much better to say something
like, “I feel quite confused (scared, tense, upset, etc.)
when I hear you say that.”

5. In your calm times sit down with your partner and each of
you acknowledge your needs, and share how you feel when
they are not met. And remember you are just saying how
you feel - you are not accusing them of anything.

6. When you have both expressed and heard those needs then,
if it feels right, make a plan on how you want to meet
the needs for each other.

6. Learn about the principles and methods of conflict
resolution and see how they can be applied to your

These are simple ideas that can and will help. They are not a magic bullet that will solve everything but they are a great place to start. And remember be prepared to get some good professional help if necessary.


Author's Bio: 

Clement McGrath brings 32 years of coaching and mentoring experience and a wealth of knowledge to his work. Clement has worked in a variety of roles that have all involved supporting people to reach their full potential and live the life of their dreams.

He has conducted his own private practice for 32 years, has facilitated youth work in a non-profit organisation, has been a contracted provider to a major government department, and director of Life Coach Associates since 2001.

After facilitating Life Coach Associates coach training program for 10 years, he recently stepped aside from that position to focus on creating a variety of programmes that are more accessible to a wider audience.

These include, “Relationship Rescue,” “How to Harness Your Yes Power,” “How to Increase Your Energy and Achieve More,” “Find Your voice: How to Communicate Confidently and Effectively,” and “Awakening to Infinity: A Course in Self Realisation.”

He is available for private consultations and public speaking, and can create customised programmes to address the specific needs of groups and organisations.

Clement is a qualified Breath Therapist, and has studied extensively in the areas of ‘Effective Communication,’ ‘Human Creativity,’ ‘Principles of Peak Performance and Success,’ and ‘Mythology and its Modern Applications.’

He has co-authored the book, “The Way to Freedom,” and is currently completing a book on relationships that he intends to have published in 2015.

Clement lives in Christchurch, New Zealand, with his partner Heather Fletcher.

Contacts for Clement are:

0064 3 355 2297
0064 272 033 694