I previously wrote about the assumptions and expectations we bring into a relationship, and the patterns of forcing they can set up. Sounds simple in theory but what exactly am I talking about? How do you recognise your own automatic assumptions and patterns and then change them in ways that serve you?

We cannot change anything we are not aware of, so here are a couple of exercises to help bring that awareness.

1. Take a few moments to think about your parents’ relationship.

2. How would you describe it in general terms?

3. Was it harmonious, or was there tension and fighting in the house?

4. What was the energy between them like, and what impression did it make on you?

5. Try to remember any particular words you heard that showed how they felt.

6. Now identify three things you learned about relationships from your mother.

7. Identify three things you learned about relationships from your father.
(Please note that if one parent was missing in your life that still taught you something.)

8. Identify three ways you play out the same patterns or beliefs in your relationship.

9. What is one thing you could commit to for changing these patterns?

Some examples of what you learned could be:

“Men / women always get what they want in relationships.”
“You always have to expect conflict in relationships.”
“It’s hard to get your needs met in relationships.”
“You get what you want by shouting and being angry.”
“It’s not safe to express my feelings in a relationship.”

These may read like negative examples but it is beliefs like these that cause the difficulty. The awareness can be uncomfortable but it is far better to see it and take charge, than have it sabotage you and keep you stuck.

The next exercise is best done with someone who will support you with this awareness and growth. The other person sits opposite you and says two words, and you respond with the first thought that comes to mind. Don’t think about it or censor it. Say the very first thing that comes to you. The other person says, “thank you,” and then repeats the two words. Every time you give a different answer. You keep doing this until nothing more comes to you.

The two words are: “relationships are.......”

When you are finished think about your answers and identify the one, or more, that seems most significant. This represents your predominant automatic view of relationships.

Now again identify how this plays out in your relationship, and think of one thing you could do to start changing that. It could be a change in the way you communicate, your attitude towards your partner, a change in your demands on them, or whatever is significant for you.

In another article we will look at how to create new options in your relationship, but for now you are getting awareness of why things may be difficult for you.

That is the starting place, and that awareness alone can bring about real change for you. See how you go and feel free to contact me if you need any support with your relationship.


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