Getting connected

We all know that talking to your partner and being open about how you feel is important.

But it can be surprisingly easy to let it fall by the wayside — especially with the demands of a busy working life or when you’re looking after children.

Why is talking every day important?

First, it allows you to talk about anything that might be bothering you. Having the space to go over anything that you might be finding difficult — either in the relationship or in life in general — means you’ll be able to express yourself and work together to address the problem.

Without doing this, things can accumulate and create tension. It can be tempting to simply try and sweep things under the carpet to keep the peace. But developing an ability to talk things over in a positive and productive manner (and without the conversation turning into an argument) means you’ll be able to adjust to the inevitable challenges that will come your way during your time as a couple.

Communicating in this way is a skill that comes more naturally to some people than others, and it can be hard to start if you haven’t had much practice.

Second, talking regular is important, because it’s also a great way of feeling close to one another. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to feel connected to your partner.

Talking together doesn’t have to mean going over really big stuff — sometimes it can just mean hanging around together and enjoying each other’s company. It can mean sharing a joke, talking about how the day has gone, or making plans for the weekend.

What’s important is that you’re spending time together, without interruptions, to be close, and to enjoy being in a couple.

How do we create the opportunity to talk every day?

When you’ve got busy lives or stressful jobs, it’s tempting to ‘let it go’ —a bit of a luxury you can always make time for later. But the danger is that you never make time later — and any damage to your relationship in the meantime isn’t addressed, because you’re spending so little time in each other’s company.

So – if you’ve fallen out of the habit of talking, how about making new habits. If you can find a way to build chatting together into your day, then, before too long it will become something you do as a matter of course. You might want to change your schedules a little — or take better advantage of downtime normally used for other things.

For example, if you work nearby each other, you might like to take lunch together a couple of times a week. Or if you’re always eating breakfast on the move, you might get up 15 minutes earlier so you can sit down together and talk about what you’re up to that day. If find you’re watching TV together after putting the kids to bed, you might like to take 30 minutes just to talk together. You might like to take the time to chat before falling asleep – ‘pillow talk’ can be a great way of catching up.

How do I tell my partner I want to talk more?

If you feel you and your partner could do more to feel connected, then you could express this to your partner and try to find a way to address the situation together.

In counselling, we often talk about ‘inviting’ someone to do something, instead of telling them. When you ‘invite’ someone to do something, you’re still giving them the autonomy to decide for themselves – and, as such, they’re less likely to react defensively or feel you’re having a go at them.

What if we never talk?

If you feel like you never connect with each other and things have been this way for a while, you might need a bit of outside help to get things kick-started again.

Counselling can be really helpful. Your counsellor will give you both the opportunity to express yourselves and help you think about ways to reconnect. They can help you talk about how you got to this point in the first place and to explore any issues that might have contributed.

Your counsellor won’t rush you into anything, tell you what to do or take sides. They’ll listen, and help to facilitate you and your partner having a productive and honest conversation.

If you’d like to arrange to see one of our counsellors give our friendly appointments team a call on 01234 356350.

Tips for summer holiday survival

We’re preparing for a surge in enquiries from couples whose relationships reach breaking point over the summer. Last year, we received a 49% increase in calls in September compared to an average month in 2016 along with a 9% rise in web traffic to the national site. This makes it our second busiest time of year after the post-Christmas peak each January.

“Relationships are often already at crisis point by the time people come to them in September,” says local counsellor Diane Whitmore. “School holidays, enforced jollity at rainy seaside resorts and financial pressures are just some of the reasons that summer can be the final straw. Some couples head straight for the divorce court; family lawyers also experience a rise in the number of new clients at this time of year.”

Anyone with concerns about their relationship should get in touch before things head into real difficulties, says Relate. “Whilst it’s never too late to ask for support, the earlier you tackle problems in your relationship, the more likely you are to overcome them,” says Diane.

“Most of us look forward to the summer holidays. But if you’re already having problems in your relationship then the pressure of juggling work, keeping the kids entertained and spending concentrated time with your partner might tip things over the edge. Tempers can get frayed and families can end up counting down the days. By the time schools re-open, some relationships are in a pretty bad state.

“We’d suggest seeking help at the earliest possible stage rather than leaving it until things get to crisis point. Even if you’re getting on all right now, there are some simple things it could be worth doing to ensure you make it through the summer with your relationship in a good place.”

 Our tips for summer survival:

  • Plan together Whether you’re going on holiday or staying put, it’s important to plan together as a family. Make everyone feel involved in plans and keep a chart with everyone’s top wishes on it.
  • Turn down the heat Arguments are often part of family life, but take care to diffuse tensions before things get too heated. If your children are arguing, ask them to go into separate rooms and ‘take five’. You can do this too if you’re getting wound up.
  • Reconnect It’s common for parents not to see their friends as much as they used to, especially when children are very young. But summer provides a chance for reconnecting as there are lots of activities, like weddings, fetes and barbeques, where parents and children from different families can get together.
  • Keep things sizzling During the summer, older kids are often out doing their own thing, so this is a good opportunity for investing some time in your relationship with your partner.
  • Check in Make sure your luggage isn’t the only thing you check in this summer. Talk to your partner regularly to find out how they’re feeling about themselves, the family and the relationship. You can then catch any issues early on and address them together.
  • Switch off If you have time off work, try to make sure it’s really time off. Try not to check emails or work phones and really focus on enjoying time with your family.
  • Make the most of better weather Make the most of what’s special about summer. Go for family walks during those long warm evenings, or arrange a picnic. Look out for free or cheap music events and summer schools arranged by local authorities.
  • Seek support If things aren’t going swimmingly, relationship counselling could help. Don’t leave it until things have reached rock bottom to get in touch with Relate. Call our friendly appointments team on 01234 356350.



Lonely among so many friends

Older people aren’t the only ones who are lonely.

A lot has been written about how more older people are living alone and becoming isolated.

But what’s not so frequently reported is how younger people – with multiple ‘friends’ online and seemingly endless texting – can feel just as alone.

In fact, it can be worse for them – because when you’re on social media and, whatever the reality, all your ‘friends’ appear to be having a whale of a time, your feelings of isolation, inadequacy, despair… can become overwhelming.

Come now, I hear you say, all that texting, all the video, all the chat on a mobile phone that never leaves their grasp, surely that’s indicative of being part of something, being wanted, in communication, a sense of belonging. (more…)

How to avoid an affair

When people spend lots of time together, they have the chance to really get to know each other. For example, work affairs often start off slowly. Working together in stressful situations can mean bonding over shared goals or through collaborating on projects. What can start off as a platonic friendship or normal working relationship can, if there’s a spark of attraction, slowly develop into an affair over time.

It’s often hard to pinpoint the moment where things begin to head in this direction. You might prefer to avoid thinking about it, or pretend it’s not happening. Some people find themselves ‘sleepwalking’ towards an affair – by not accepting that it’s a possibility at all.

And then it’s often the case that events like after-work drinks or a leaving party spark underlying attractions and are acted on in an impulsive moment. (more…)

The difficult path through grief

Helping a partner who is grieving can be really challenging. Grief can be volatile and unpredictable.

Everyone deals with grief differently. Some people might be more communicative, whereas others shut themselves away. It can take a long time to work through, however sometimes people can surprise you and seem to progress much quicker.

The nature of grief can also be different depending on the person’s relationship and the circumstances of how someone died. If it was sudden and unexpected, or if there were any issues in the relationship, you can be left with lots of unresolved feelings.

And progress is rarely a straight line. Sometimes people may slow down or speed up unpredictably. It might be that they find they’re better able to cope at first than they are a few months down the line, or that a setback in another area of their life — or a further bereavement — brings back lots of feelings. (more…)

5 reasons why kissing is good for you

There’s nothing more euphoric than a great kiss and it’s been proven that kissing is good for you and your relationship. As it is International Kissing Day on 6th July 2017 here are five kissing facts:

  1. It helps you work out if someone is a good match

When you lock lips with someone, five out of 12 of your cranial nerves are engaged, suggesting your brain is attempting to gather as much information as it can about the other person.

The lips don’t lie and just like the song goes, ‘it’s in his kiss’: you can actually tell if someone is going to be a good match for you from an exchange of saliva! (more…)

The art of compromise

You want to go to the cinema. But you and your partner have different tastes in movies.

One of you wants to see an action film; the other a romantic comedy. There are no films showing that you might both like to see.

You talk about it for a while, and it’s clear you’re not going to come to an easy agreement. In the end, one of you gives up and says: ‘We’ll go see the romantic comedy’. The other person is happy, but the first one is secretly a bit resentful that they had to give in.

Now… that might not seem like a particularly big deal, but there’s a pattern that, when applied to something more serious or important, could be problematic. (more…)

When different sex drives in a relationship become a problem

Many couples experience different levels of sex drive at some point in their relationship.

For some couples differences in sex drive may have been present from the start of the relationship. That’s common – and lots of people find ways of compromising that feel fine to both partners. For some people, their sex drive lessens over time and finding ways to talk about this together may help to prevent a partner feeling unloved and rejected.

If things seem to have changed for you and you’re concerned about it, try to work out what is causing the difference in your sex drives. Here are some of the things that can contribute: (more…)

More than a fifth of local people are dissatisfied with their sex life

More than a fifth (22 per cent) of people in the East of England are dissatisfied with their sex life and a third (33 per cent) have experienced a sexual problem, according to new figures from Relate Bedfordshire and Luton.

The same study found that just over a fifth (21 per cent) of people living in the East said that low libido or differing sex drives is placing a strain on their relationship.

The figures are taken from a report by Relate and Relationships Scotland, Let’s talk about sex. The UK-wide study included more than 5,000 respondents, 490 of whom were from the East of England.


Want to train as a couple’s counsellor?

Want to train as a Relate couple’s counsellor?

Here’s your chance to undertake the training for FREE.

Relate Bedfordshire and Luton is offering two fully-funded training places for the Relate Certificate in Relational Counselling. (more…)