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Parenting and relationship problems

If you're in the pregnancy phase, or if you've just had a child, you may be facing some unique relationship challenges.

Everyone’s situation is different, but you may recognise some of these common issues that many new parents struggle with.

Emotional support for new dads
Dads can often be unsure of their roles during the pregnancy and birth. With the bulk of the attention understandably on the mother, the father can sometimes feel like a bit of a bystander. Feeling unsupported If this reflects your experience, you might be wondering when you will start to get the attention and support you need. You might feel this way because you aren’t letting people know you need support. Friends and family will often show their support to those who appear most in need. If you don’t appear to be in need, people often assume you’re OK. According to research, women are less likely to face this problem because they tend to tell people what kind of help they need: Males are more likely than females to deal with their problems privately.  Males were more likely to find it difficult to discuss their problems with friends. Both men and women believe that men find it more difficult to talk and express their emotions than women do [1]. Leaning on friends and family If you’ve got friends or family members who support you, it might help to lean on them during this time. If you need specific things, just ask. They might be looking for ways to help and just not know what you need. Or they may assume that you’re OK because you’ve not said anything. Remember that – although your partner went through the pregnancy and birth – you were there too, and your role as a father deserves celebration and support. Join in the celebration of your own role, even if others aren’t acknowledging it. It’s very important that you feel free to embrace your fatherhood at this early stage [2]. So, challenge any thoughts that make you feel secondary or less important. Your role is just as vital.   References [1] Ramm, J., Coleman, L., Glenn, F. and Mansfield, P. (2010) Relationship Difficulties and Help-Seeking Behaviour – Secondary Analysis of an Existing Data-Set. One Plus One: London [2] Marsiglio, W., Lupton, D., & Barclay, L. (1998). Constructing Fatherhood: Discourses and Experiences. Contemporary Sociology, 27(6), 590. doi:10.2307/2654239
Article | fathers, family
2 min read
Trusting each other with the baby
Most parents usually feel an innate sense of responsibility to protect their babies, but sometimes mums take the lead in this department, leaving dads worrying that they’re not as capable. This can kick off a vicious cycle where dads don’t feel confident with the baby and mums feel like they have to do everything. If this goes on for a long time, it can create a lasting sense of tension, so it’s important to try and address it early on. The vicious cycle   This conflict between mums and dads is quite common. It can start during pregnancy when mums have a very real experience of protecting the baby, and making sure it has everything it needs. Because of this, mums often – but not always – already have a close bond by the time the baby is born. If breastfeeding, this bond can be deepened even further. For dads, the bond usually take longer to develop. Dads have to take time to get to know their babies and develop a sense of their roles as they adjust to the new responsibility. This doesn’t undermine all the effort and support that dads put in during pregnancy – providing comfort and encouragement, singing to the baby, attending pre-natal classes, – but it can leave them feeling like they’re on the back foot. In the majority of parent couples, women are the primary caregivers, meaning they spend the most time at home with the baby: 76 per cent of women and 56 per cent of men state that in reality, women have the responsibility of primary caregiver [1]. Whichever of you spends the most time at home is likely to get to know the baby better sooner and be better at responding to what the baby needs. If, as in the majority of families, that’s the mum, then it may feel quite natural for her to take the lead, especially if she’s had more practice with tasks like changing nappies and is able to get them done more efficiently. This can often mean that the other parent, usually the dad, doesn’t have as many opportunities to care for the baby, and might need longer to develop these essential parenting skills. The dad can start to feel less confident, which can lead him to avoid parenting tasks, and the mum can start to trust him less, and just do everything herself. As these factors start to feed into each other, the cycle begins. Developing trust as parents   The first thing to do is acknowledge it to each other. Try to avoid making any accusations or blaming each other and instead talk about it from your own perspectives, starting your sentences with “I feel”, rather than “You make me feel”.  Even if you’re annoyed and wound up, try to keep the resentment out of your conversation, and focus on finding solutions together. To make sure you’re more equally involved, you’re going to need to make an active decision to trust each other. Although one of you may be the primary carer in the most practical sense, you can still share most parenting responsibilities. You both deserve opportunities to bond with your baby and you’re both capable of delivering the best care. To back that up, here’s a snippet from an extensive study on mums and dads as caregivers: Both men and women seem to be equally competent caregivers and exhibit high degrees of similarity as caregivers [2]. If one of you is struggling with certain tasks, like changing nappies or putting the baby to bed, then ask the other for a demonstration – don’t just give up and fall back into the patterns you’ve developed so far. The entire family will benefit from having both of you skilled up. The more a father engages himself during the delivery and postnatal period, the stronger his attachment to the baby [3]. As with anything in life, it’s easy to lose confidence in the face of criticism. It can take a few goes to get these things right, particularly in front of someone who already does it well. Being a new parent can be a scary time, certainly in the beginning, but by trusting and encouraging each other, you can help you build this confidence together as a couple. References   [1] EHRC (2009) Research Report 15 - Work and Care: A Study of Modern Parents. Retrieved from: http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/publication/research-report-15-work-and-care-a-study-of-modern-parents [2] Kovner Kline, K. and Bradford Wilcox, W. (2014) IAV | Report: Mother Bodies, Father Bodies: How Parenthood Changes Us from the Inside Out, p. 25 [3] Litton Fox, G., Bruce, C. and Combs-Orme, T. (2000) Parenting Expectations and Concerns of Fathers and Mothers of Newborn Infants. Family Relations, 49(2), 123–31.
Article | parenting, trust, baby
4 min read
Getting dads involved with their babies
Most new dads are aware of the responsibilities that are coming their way well before the baby is born. But, unfortunately, not all of them step up to the plate when the times comes. If your baby’s dad isn’t helping out, three things can happen: The baby can miss out on vital care. Your partner can miss opportunities to bond with the baby. You might feel let down and resentful. Your partner might assume that his role is to provide for the family, and not necessarily to offer care [1]. By putting food on the table, and clothes on backs, he may feel that his job is done, leaving the nurturing side of things to you. If his parents followed a similar family structure, he may be influenced by his own upbringing. The support that parents offer each other is at its strongest during birth, and then steadily drops for both mothers and fathers. Fatigue and tiredness probably have a part to play in this, and it’s quite likely that this time will not accurately represent the supportiveness that you normally show each other in your relationship. Most couples return to their standard level of supportiveness within a year of the baby being born [2].   Boosting the bond   If your partner has embraced the provider role and not the carer role, it might be helpful for him to try and bond more with your baby. If he bonds with the child early on, he’s more likely to develop a stronger attachment, which can encourage him to play more of his caring role. Try to provide regular opportunities for him to bond – feeding times, going for walks, and skin-to-skin contact are all great ways to support this. The more the father engages himself during the delivery and postnatal period, the stronger will be his attachment to the baby [1]. It might be worth having a conversation with your partner and asking him how he sees his role. Be sensitive in your approach – he may not feel he’s neglecting the caring aspect of fatherhood, or he may feel that you don’t appreciate how hard he works to be the provider. Lead with how you feel and how it appears to you, rather than throw any accusations. Use “I feel” more than “You make me feel”. Ask him about his expectations of fatherhood: What did he expect it to be like? Is it what he imagined? What could you do to make him feel more involved? Does he feel like he’s connecting with the baby? Explore these questions together and see if you can start to find some solutions together. References   [1] Plantin, L., Olukoya, A. and Ny, P. (2011) Positive Health Outcomes of Fathers’ Involvment in Pregnancy and Childbirth Paternal Support: A Scope Study Literature Review. Fathering: A Journal of Theory, Research, and Practice about Men as Fathers, 9(1), 87–102. [2] Howard, K. and Brooks-Gunn, J. (2009) Relationship Supportiveness During the Transition to Parenting Among Married and Unmarried Parents. Parenting, 9(1–2), 123–42.
Article | fathers, parenting, new parents
2 min read
Normal issues are amplified in pregnancy
Since finding out you’re pregnant, you might have noticed that issues you’ve always been able to cope with are much harder to deal with now. You might be arguing with your partner more than usual or getting stressed out more easily. Becoming parents   Your relationship is going through a big transition – where you used to just be a couple, you’re now becoming parents. This transition is a time of increased stress for most parents and it’s one of the most significant changes you’ll ever have to deal with [1]. Even if your baby was planned, you’ve got a lot to get your heads around. Parenting is a lifelong commitment, with new responsibilities and huge demands on your time, money, and other areas of your lives. As your pregnancy progresses, the realities of your new roles can become daunting and may lead to more worry. When you’re about to become parents, you might reflect on your own childhood and your experiences of being parented. While it can be healthy to learn from the past, any difficult memories may have an effect on your emotional wellbeing. All of this can cause previously mundane issues to become far more significant [2]. Managing expectations   If you and your partner know and anticipate the kinds of difficulties you will face, you are more likely to have realistic expectations. This can mean you’re better able to deal with difficult situations when they come up [3]. Talk openly and positively about your fears and expectations, and make use of the support and information on offer. If you’re aware of your biggest worries as a couple, you can work together to prepare solutions in advance. Although your sense of identity might be shifting, you don’t have to lose sight of who you were before. Taking time for yourself to keep in touch with friends and maintain hobbies can help remind you that, even though your life is changing, you can still be the same person you always were. Equally, spending quality time with your partner is an important reminder that, as well as being expectant parents, you are still a couple too.  References   [1] Shapiro, A. F. & Gottman, J. M. Effects on Marriage of a Psycho-Communicative-Educational Intervention With Couples Undergoing the Transition to Parenthood, Evaluation at 1-Year Post Intervention. J. Fam. Commun.5, 1–24 (2005). [2] Claxton, A. & Perry-Jenkins, M. No Fun Anymore: Leisure and Marital Quality Across the Transition to Parenthood. J. Marriage Fam.70, 28–43 (2008). [3] Pancer, S. M., Pratt, M., Hunsberger, B. & Gallant, M. Thinking ahead: Complexity of expectations and the transition to parenthood. J. Pers.68, 253–279 (2000).
Article | pregnancy, parenting
2 min read
Parents, technology and relationships
For new parents, technology is great for keeping in touch – texting your partner during the day, facetiming with your baby, or catching up with friends you no longer have time to see. Smartphones and social media have broken down many communication barriers but they’ve also thrown a few new stones on the path. Learning to navigate this territory can help protect you against the risks that an overreliance on technology can put on your relationship. Work-life balance Technology makes it easier for your partner to get in touch with you at work, but also for your colleagues to get in touch with you when you’re at home. This blurring of the lines between work and family can be stressful, making you feel like you have to deal with work matters at home, or family matters at work [1]. Phones and intimacy One study showed that simply having mobiles in the house can get in the way of couples developing intimacy and trust, even on an unconscious level. You don’t know it’s happening, but the presence of your phone in your pocket, or on the counter, or on the bedside table, can create a barrier to the trust and intimacy you might otherwise be building up [2]. Talking through text It’s easy for meanings and nuances to be lost in the written word – especially when you’re firing off messages in the middle of a busy day. Words can take on new meanings when presented without tone of voice. A hurried response can be taken as a lack of consideration. Even a cheeky emoji can be read wrong. Over the course of a day, this can build up into a big heap of mixed messages and unnecessary resentment, bleeding over into the way you talk to each other at home [3] and leading to unnecessary bickering. The following tips can help make sure technology plays a healthier role in your lives: Agree some ground rules. Decide what constitutes acceptable internet and phone use. You might want to agree on some designated phone-free time for catching up, or just plan to switch off after a certain hour. Whatever you decide, make sure it works for both of you. Avoid assumptions. If your partner texts or emails something that feels like a dig or a rejection, clarify it before you leap to a reaction. Pay attention. When your partner is talking about something important, put your screen away and give them your full attention. Save your news. If you’ve got something important to share, wait and do it face to face. That way, you won’t miss out on all the benefits of your partner’s reaction. Switch off at bedtime. Make your bedroom a temple of sleep (and sex too, if you have time). Turn your phone off, or leave it out of the bedroom. Buy an old-fashioned alarm clock and don’t check your messages until you’re up and about. Switch off on date nights. If you’ve set up a time to share together, turn off your phone and concentrate on enjoying each other’s company. Leave social media out of arguments. If you’re arguing with your partner, don’t drop in that a friend on Facebook agrees with you. Keep your private conversations private. Be understanding. Try to understand what your partner finds so valuable about their online life. They may be receiving important support and advice from a forum or a WhatsApp group. Understanding this can help you make peace with the time they spend online. Talk about your feelings. If you feel neglected, say something. People often don't realise the impact of their behaviour, so a little nudge can be helpful to start the conversation. Remember to focus on your feelings, and not on your partner’s behaviour! Set an example. As a parent, you may be trying to limit your children’s screen time. Lead by example, and take your own eyes off the screen a bit more often. Your children are learning from you about how to have positive, healthy relationships – let them see you interacting in real life too.    References   [1] Chesley, N. (2005). Blurring Boundaries? Linking Technology Use, Spillover, Individual Distress, and Family Satisfaction. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67: 1237–1248. [2] Przybylski, A. K., & Weinstein, N. (2012). Can you connect with me now? How the presence of mobile communication technology influences face-to-face conversation quality? Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 30(3), 237–246. [3] Hertlein, K., & Stevenson, A. (2010). The Seven “As” Contributing to Internet-Related Intimacy Problems: A Literature Review. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 4(1), article 3. Retrieved from https://cyberpsychology.eu/article/view/4230/3273
Article | parenting together, communication
4 min read
Pregnant and worried about your relationship
If your partner didn’t respond well to the news of your pregnancy, or if he seems reluctant to make plans for the baby, you may wonder how he will cope with the pressures of fatherhood. When you’re pregnant and worrying about the future, it’s not uncommon to worry that your relationship will suffer. You might be afraid that your partner is going to disengage – or worse, that he might panic and run off! It’s important to remind yourself that your fears don’t necessarily reflect reality, and this may not be how your partner feels. But it’s also worth examining these fears to see where they come from. If your partner doesn’t want to talk about the baby Generally speaking, men are slower than women to come to terms with the reality of having a baby, especially if the pregnancy wasn’t planned. If your partner is struggling to come to terms with the idea of being a dad, it may be difficult for him to have long conversations about the baby. An overload of baby-focused talk could lead him to switch off. Try to be patient – he may just need a little more time to get his head around it. It might be helpful to vary the topics of conversation and remind your partner that some aspects of your lives are going to remain the same when the baby arrives. Encourage your partner to focus on the positive role he’s going to play. Even if he’s scared about becoming a dad, he won’t necessarily communicate his fears to you. Talk to him about your own hopes and worries, and then leave a space open for him to talk about how he feels. He may be pulling away because he’s not sure he is up to the task of parenthood. He may also be afraid that he will be sidelined, or that you will love the baby more than him. Not everything will change, and it may be helpful to tell him that. If you’ve faced rejection or abandonment before If you’ve faced issues in your past where someone important has left or abandoned you, you might be more sensitive to the idea that it will happen again. Your fears could be triggered by things like your partner walking off during an argument, not showing up for dinner, or being impossible to get hold of for some time. Let your partner know that this is a real worry for you – you may find he becomes more reassuring and more careful about how he communicates with you. Sometimes it’s helpful to remind your partner of how your past experiences can affect you. If your relationship feels unstable If your relationship has been going through difficulties, the idea of bringing a child into the mix can feel like a recipe for disaster. However, there’s no such thing as a perfect relationship and very few people would say they are constantly happy when they start a family. Having children will undoubtedly place some stress on the relationship, but it can also be a powerful bonding experiences. It might be a little more difficult when you have extra family responsibilities but, whatever stage you’re at, you can always work on improving your relationship as a couple. Let the arrival of your baby motivate you to be better together.
Article | pregnancy, parenting together
3 min read
Adjusting to an unplanned pregnancy
Couples that plan for pregnancy are often mentally and emotionally prepared for it when it happens. If you weren’t trying for a baby, you’ll have to adjust much quicker to this life-changing news. Feeling overwhelmed It may be a while before you can take it all in. When you’re overwhelmed by news that shocks you or changes your outlook on the world, it can feel like your thoughts and feelings are out of control. Before you start considering your options, take some time to think through how you feel. Try not to get too caught up with how you’re supposed to feel. Just be honest with yourself and, when you’re ready, regroup with your partner to talk it through. Try to cast off any guilt and try not to judge each other. This conversation is likely to be emotionally charged, so be gentle and sensitive. Avoid making absolute statements like, “This is never going to work” and, if things get heated, take a break from the conversation and return after you’ve both calmed down. Take the time and effort to listen to your partner’s point of view. Even if you disagree, it’s important that you are both heard and understood. When it feels too soon in your relationship Research has shown that couples deal with challenges better when they’ve had time to bond as a couple and build up a sense of togetherness. If your relationship is still new, you may not feel like you have that connection yet [1]. Having a baby together is a big commitment, and both of you will want to feel confident that your relationship is strong enough to take it on. Talk with your partner about the kind of relationship you both want for the future. Having these conversations can help build a sense of togetherness, and you might discover that your relationship has compatibility and long-term potential. Feeling unready to be a parent You may not feel ready because of practical things like lifestyle changes or financial security. Or the reason could be more deep-rooted. If, for example, your relationship with your own parents was a struggle, then you may be worried about repeating that relationship with your own child. Sit down with your partner and unpick what could be influencing how you feel. Explain that you’re still trying to understand your own reactions and feelings, and that you’re just looking for support to explore things. Lots of mums and dads will tell you that the feeling of being ‘ready’ never really kicks in. Feeling this way just means you’re taking it seriously and want to get it right. Remember that your partner is there to support you in your role as a parent – you’re not expected to figure everything out by yourself. You can help each other to learn how to be parents. Remember that while you are both adjusting to your new roles, you are still two individuals in a relationship together. Make a conscious effort to talk about things other than the pregnancy. Taking time for yourself to keep in touch with friends and maintain hobbies can help you feel like more than just a parent.   References [1] Reynolds, J. (2008). Supporting Couple Relationships: A Sourcebook for Practitioners. OnePlusOne http://www.oneplusone.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Supporting-Couple-Relationships-Sourcebook-For-Practitioners.pdf
Article | pregnancy, stress
4 min read
Eight steps to being a good birthing partner
The birth of a child is a huge moment for you as a family, and it’s understandable that you’d want to do all the right things to support your partner. If you’re feeling nervous or unsure about your partner going into labour, these eight steps may help you feel more confident about how to offer the right support. Have discussions with your partner about where she’d like to give birth. Does she want to give birth at home, or in a hospital? Does she want a water birth? Talk about the kind of birth she wants more generally. Find out whether she wants an epidural during labour, or if she is interested in hypnobirthing. It’s useful to understand your partner’s feelings on this so you can help support her when the time comes. Try not to push your own feelings on her, and keep firmly in mind what kind of experience she is hoping to have. Focus on the experience your partner is going to have, and try to avoid telling stories of other people’s birthing experiences. Ask beforehand what kind of support and encouragement your partner is going to want from you during the labour. But be prepared that this may all go out the window when the time comes.   Have a supply of food and drink to hand for both of you. Bring a toothbrush and a fresh set of clothes. She’ll be really grateful for this after the birth. Ask if there’s anything else she might want – things like lip balm and a fan or cooling spray can often be welcome during labour. During labour, ask your partner, “What would you like me to do?” Don’t assume she will just tell you. If you have any other questions, worries or concerns about the birth, don’t hold back from talking to your partner about it. You can also talk to your midwife, who may be able to reassure you that you’re on the right track. It’s quite common for you to feel a bit anxious, but there’s plenty you can do to help and support. Remember that the little things can go a long way.
Article | birth, labour
2 min read
The pressure of becoming a father
If your partner has high expectations of you as a new father, it can put a lot of pressure on your journey into parenthood. High expectations Sometimes people expect their partners to make them happy. This is a lot of responsibility for one person, and it can become a heavy burden. If you’ve experienced that kind of pressure from your partner, you might also have experienced a sense of failure when they become disappointed or unhappy. So, when you consider the lifelong journey of parenthood, you may worry that expectations of being the perfect father and the perfect partner are just too heavy to bear. The truth is that you alone can’t make your partner happy. As each of you invests love and effort into the relationship, you can certainly contribute to each other’s happiness but, ultimately, each person is responsible for managing their own happiness. It might be helpful to talk this through with your partner and explain that you feel this sense of pressure and expectation. Open your sentences with, “I feel” rather than, “You make me feel”. Try to refrain from criticising or attacking, and just talk about what it feels like for you. Be ready to listen to your partner’s responses. You may learn something about the thoughts and feelings that have led to these expectations in the first place. Confidence Sometimes, high expectations come from within. It may be that you’re just lacking confidence in yourself. You’re not alone – evidence has shown that lots of new fathers worry about being able to take good enough care of a newborn, or doubt their ability to keep a child safe [1]. The concerns voiced by the greatest number of fathers related to his ability to "take good enough care" of his child (61%) and his ability to "keep your kids safe" (52%). Or, perhaps you worry that you’ve not experienced the best examples of parenthood from your own family and are worried about repeating the same mistakes. Discuss your fears with your partner, or with a close friend or family member that you can trust to reassure you. Taking postnatal classes with your partner can really help you prepare yourselves for the initial demands of parenting. They might help you to start thinking about fatherhood with less hesitation or trepidation. Ask your GP or local children’s centre about parenting classes near you. Always remember that you and your partner are parenting together – you’re allowed to ask for whatever support you need. Feeling heard You may feel you don’t have the opportunity to talk about your own expectations and thoughts for the future. Conversations with your partner might have felt one-sided, leaving you feeling like your own thoughts and emotions matter less. Choose a quiet time to sit down with your partner and explain that you’re not feeling heard. Try to avoid pointing the finger or blaming your partner; just talk about how you feel. Bring notes if it helps. Discuss your expectations of your fatherhood role and see how they compare to your partner’s. Where there are differences, discuss ways you might be able to compromise. This may need to develop over a series of conversations, so keep working at it.   References [1] Litton Fox, G., Bruce, C. and Combs-Orme, T. (2000) Parenting Expectations and Concerns of Fathers and Mothers of Newborn Infants. Family Relations, 49(2), 123–31 (P.126).
Article | fathers, stress
4 min read
Improving your emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognise your own feelings and choose how you respond to them. This can allow you to take better control of the way you think and behave [1] and improve your communication skills by helping you to read other people’s emotions better [2]. Why emotional intelligence is good for your relationship Couples with strong emotional intelligence are more likely to be satisfied with their relationships [3]. The more aware you and your partner are of your own emotions, the easier it becomes to see things from each other’s points of view. This can help you feel closer, support each other better, and understand each other more [4]. Developing your emotional intelligence will help you communicate and resolve arguments more effectively. When you have a good understanding of how emotions work, you’ll find it easier to step back from a difficult conversation, examine the options, and look for ways to work towards a resolution [5]. How to improve your emotional intelligence The following tips can help you work on your emotional intelligence, allowing you to take charge of your emotions and improve your communication skills. 1. Learn to recognise your emotions  Developing your emotional intelligence starts with self-examination. Notice how you feel, particularly in times of stress or high emotion. Do you get angry easily, or sulk when you don’t get your way? What about other emotions – what does it feel like when you’re happy, confused, or bored? Check in with yourself from time to time and notice the way you experience different feelings. Without judgement, describe to yourself what you’re thinking and feeling. Notice the physical sensations as well as the thoughts in your head. Is your heart rate up or down? Is your mind racing or still? Are your muscles tense or relaxed? 2. Look behind your emotions Once you’re comfortable with the process of recognising your emotions, start to delve a little deeper and think about why you feel the way you feel. Is it because of what’s happening now, or are there other factors influencing you – perhaps something from the past, or an external factor like a work deadline or a lack of sleep? Check in on your emotions a few times a day, whether you feel good, bad or neutral. As you become more aware of the triggers that lead to certain emotions, you’ll find you can anticipate them, and even regulate them. This is an important step in learning to stay calm under pressure and composed during an argument. 3. Reflect on your behaviour Your thoughts and actions are intrinsically linked to your feelings. As you learn more about your feelings, expand your attention to notice how they affect your behaviour. Do you lash out when you’re angry? Do you leap to the defensive when you’re feeling hurt? Do you get single-minded when you’re under pressure? Remember that the ways you respond to different situations are the product of years of life experience. Try to observe your behaviour without judging it – this will make it easier for you to give yourself an honest account of what’s happening. Notice the links between your emotions, thoughts and actions, and see if you spot any familiar patterns. 4. Take responsibility Once you’re able to recognise the way you respond to your feelings, you can start to take more responsibility for your choices. Try to catch yourself before you react negatively to something, and see if you can make a different decision. This could be as simple as asking someone to clarify their meaning before you respond, or taking a break from something that’s irritating you. The more you practise this, the more you can start to choose how you respond to difficult situations and conversations. 5. Work on your empathy skills Understanding your own emotions will start to give you an insight into others’ emotions too. Being emotionally intelligent will not make you a mind reader, but it will give you a level of insight and understanding that can make you a much better communicator.The next time you are facing difficult feelings, try a quick check-in. Ask yourself: How am I feeling? What am I thinking? How is that making me behave?  You can’t stop yourself from feeling bad, but you can learn to make different choices when you do. References [1] Coleman, Andrew (2008). A Dictionary of Psychology (3 ed.). Oxford University Press. [2] Mayer, John D (2008). Human Abilities: Emotional Intelligence. Annual Review of Psychology. 59: 507–536.  [3] Brackett, M., Warner, R., & Bosco, J. (2005). Emotional intelligence and relationship quality among couples. Personal Relationships, 12(2), 197-212.  [4] Schröder-Abé, M., & Schütz, A. (2011). Walking in each other's shoes: Perspective taking mediates effects of emotional intelligence on relationship quality. European Journal of Personality, 25(2), 155-169.  [5] Zeidner, M., & Kloda, I. (2013). Emotional intelligence (EI), conflict resolution patterns, and relationship satisfaction: Actor and partner effects revisited. Personality And Individual Differences, 54(2), 278-283.
Article | communication, mental health
4 min read
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