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Health and relationships
The quality of your relationship with your partner (and with friends, colleagues and family members) affects both your mental and physical wellbeing. Similarly, how good you feel emotionally and physically can affect how you get on with your partner - perhaps even more than you realise. |[profileDataBundle id=1]| Improving your relationship quality can have a positive effect on your health, affecting related behaviours like exercising and drinking that can, in turn, affect how you get on. Of course, relationships go through ups and downs. But when we are unhappy or frustrated it’s easy to ignore what we know is good for us. Risky behaviours can provide an escape but sometimes we can fall into habits that are bad for both our health and our relationship. The good news is that, by taking stock and taking a good look at our patterns of behaviour, we can start making a few changes and things can start feeling very different. Have a look at the following questions and then share your answers with your partner. This can help you to assess the bigger picture and start changing some of the behaviours that could be affecting your relationship. Overall, how well do you feel on a day-to-day basis? Where would you score your physical health on a scale of one to 10, with ten being best it can be? Do you smoke? If so, how much, and at what times of day? What are your triggers for smoking? How often do you drink? Do you drink to unwind, to be social, or to shut things out? How well do you eat? Do you and your partner eat together – are cooking and eating well important parts of your relationship? Are you over or underweight? How do you feel about your body? How well do you sleep? –What, if anything keeps you awake? Can you see any patterns? Do you exercise regularly? How do you feel after exercising? How often do you have sex? Do you enjoy sex with your partner? Are you currently working? How does your work affect how you feel? If you have a bad day at work, what impact does it have on your home life? How do you know you are overstressed? What are the signs? What makes you feel good physically? What makes you feel good emotionally?   What next? Have a look at your answers. How does the overall picture look? Does it look good or feel a bit overwhelming? Are there any patterns you’d like to change? If you have any habits or recurring behaviours that aren’t serving you, look at the underlying reasons. Take it slowly – recognising the need for change is a crucial first step. Don’t try to change everything at once. If you are a smoker, that’s a good place to start. Consider cutting down, or just keeping a log of when you smoke and how you feel before and after. Start to notice what need you are trying to fulfil by smoking, and whether it’s working for you. If you want to eat better, start by introducing some small changes to your diet. Get a new cookbook or look up some recipes online. Experimenting with new dishes can be fun. Set aside some time to plan and cook a healthy meal with your partner – this one positive shared experience could be the first step towards getting out of a mealtime rut. Poor sleep, drinking too much and work stress are all issues that can contribute to how you get on with your partner, often leading to arguments. It can feel overwhelming to address these issues at once – a good place to start might be taking some regular exercise. It doesn’t matter what, so long as it is something you can enjoy that fits in with your work and family demands. Exercise can also have a positive impact on other areas of your life, releasing natural chemicals that improve your mood and make you feel happier. Adopting a more active lifestyle can improve your mental health, giving you a positive reminder you that the choices you make affect how you feel. Leading a more active life can give you a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life, and help you sleep better. It can improve your self-esteem and confidence, helping you feel more valued, and more attractive. Exercise and physical activity can give you something positive to strive for and commit to. It can help you to stop dwelling on problems and, in time, you may even start to enjoy it!   A word of warning! If this exercise has brought up any issues you find difficult to talk about, you may find it helpful to use some of the communication exercises and articles elsewhere on the site. If you have identified that you or your partner are drinking too much, you may need to seek professional help – looking at the articles on addiction on the site can be a positive first step.
Article | Health
7 5 min read
Looking forward
New Year tends to be a time of deep reflection. We reach the end of something, we close it up, and we look forward to starting something new. Of course this is all just a mind game. We’re not actually starting something new, it’s another month like the last – just without Christmas lights and with less turkey. But nonetheless, many of us still get all reflective and thoughtful. This reflective state we delve into often means looking back on the decisions that we’ve made, the events that have occurred, and the changes we endured in the last year. As parents, if you had a tough year last year, or it wasn’t what you expected it to be, then you might find yourselves wondering if this year will just be a repeat of 2015 - especially if the circumstances you faced are expected to remain the same. For example if you have a child who has a disability, or a special need, any challenges brought on by these factors will likely be consistent. The good news is that, even though your circumstances might be the same, your ability to cope, grow, and bond with your family don’t necessarily have to remain the same. Neither does the quality of your relationship with your partner which, when improved, can make everyday living feel lighter and challenges feel more manageable. Research shows that couples who build their bond of togetherness feel able to deal with challenges more effectively [1]. This applies to all couples, including those who have disabled children. Additionally, couples who talk about their upcoming challenges are better able to deal with them when they happen.   “The quality of couple relationships has a clearer link to the health, life satisfaction and wellbeing of partners and their children [2]” If 2015 felt quite bleak at times, remember that your current situation is not a forecast of your future. As you get to know your child and understand them better (along with their condition), you’ll find it easier to know what they need and how to make the best of your time together. To encourage yourself, think back to a few of the initial challenges you faced that you’ve already overcome - challenges that perhaps appeared insurmountable at the beginning and then, over time, became something that could be worked through. Hold these before-and-after moments in your mind and remember that things can improve, solutions can be found, and challenges can be overcome. For more information, consider visiting: Contact.org family life section Contact.org guide on relationships and caring for a disabled child Contact.org page on local support groups Contact.org helpline page, or call 0808 808 3555 References  [1] Coleman and Glenn 2009; Proulx et al., 2007; Robles et al. 2013; The Relationships Alliance 2014; Vaillant (2012) [2] Barrett et al., 2011; Cummings and Davies, 2010; Reynolds et al., 2014; Relationships Alliance (2014)
Article | Health, future planning
0 2 min read
What is the formula for a healthy relationship?
Is your relationship a positive one, or a negative one? For most of us, the answer is… it depends on the day. Like anything in life (family, career, home), relationships work best when the positive feelings and actions outweigh the negative ones. On a good day, when your partner is treating you well, listening to you, loving you and making your life easier, the scales tip to the side of ‘positive’. On a bad day, when your partner criticises you repeatedly, doesn’t support you and takes you for granted, the scales tip the other way.According to research, the key to a healthy relationship lies in the balance of this scale – the positives vs. negatives that both parties bring. Now you might assume that a relationship with NO negatives should be the goal. Surely any relationship would work better with NO disagreements? Well, no. Fortunately for most couples, the negatives are important for a relationship too. Negatives can include personality clashes, impoliteness, selfishness, criticisms and so on. So negative interactions can actually benefit the relationship… but why? “[The role of negativity] in a healthy marriage may be to spur a cycle of closeness and distance that can renew love and affection. ‘Off’ times allow couples to become reacquainted periodically and heighten their love.”[1] In other words, negative interaction allows for the courtship to be renewed in some small way. As with a dance, sometimes you draw in close, and sometimes you create distance. But how MUCH of this negative do we need in our relationship? What IS the recommended balance? In relationship studies, we seldom see any kind of formula, but in this case relationship researcher John Gottman [2] has provided us with one. 5 Positive : 1 Negative This means that for every one negative interaction, in order to set the balance and keep your relationship nourished you need to experience five positive interactions. These “positive” ones don’t have to be impressive or romantic gestures. They could just be bringing your partner a cup of tea, or taking the kids off them for a bit to give them some free time. Or even just being polite, paying compliments, laughing, touching, smiling and showing support. When you’re facing difficult and challenging times as parents trying to run a family, you’re probably not in a position to make big sweeping gestures like cooking your partner a three-course meal, whisking them off for a weekend away or even taking them out for the evening. So it’s just as well that the positives in the 5:1 ratio don’t need to be extravagant or overtly romantic. “Stable and happy couples share more positive feelings and actions than negative ones. Unhappy couples tend to have more negative feelings and actions than positive ones.”[3] It’s worth noting that while a negative to every five positives is encouraged, the word ‘negative’ is quite broad and certain types of negative (or too many negatives on a consistent basis) can be particularly destructive to the relationship. These more damaging negatives include great stubbornness, contempt, defensiveness, withdrawal from interaction and acts of aggression or physical violence. These really exist outside of the ratio – it’s important to remember that some actions and behaviours are never beneficial to a relationship.Lastly, there may be some couples out there who experience a ratio with lower negatives of say, 10:1 or even 20:1 where negative interactions are rare. Some even claim they don’t experience negatives at all. In a social gathering where other couples are discussing what they all argue about, this couple will often turn to each other with raised eyebrows and a hokey grin before saying: “To be honest… we just don’t really argue, do we honey?” And the other one shakes their head and goes “Nope.”, both of them apparently quite confused about what everyone else could possibly be doing wrong in their relationships. But you needn’t worry about achieving this level of harmony with your spouse. According to research, while a ratio of even 100:1 could be effective in the short-term, in order to sustain a relationship (or marriage) with real staying power, 5:1 is the ticket. References   [1] “Why marriages succeed or fail” – John Gottman p.65 [2] https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/cfs/cfs-744-w.pdf [3] “Why marriages succeed or fail” – John Gottman p.56
Article | communication, big changes
0 4 min read
“Drastic behaviour change”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Me and my boyfriend have known each other for quite a number of years and we developed a really deep bond with each other and nothing made me happier than being with him and I could easily see it was the same for him. Coming to the present time, he says he still loves me but I feel not even last in his life, I feel non-existent. I have mentioned to him countless times that he doesn't make time for me anymore and I just keep getting excuses about him wanting to spend time with his family, or with God which is understandable but everytime I bring it up it never ends well. Eventually I got sick of complaining so I decided not to tell him and I just backed off from his life occasionally messaging him every other day and keeping myself occupied. Two weeks later he tells me he's really been wanting to talk to me and he missed me but apart from that, nothing seems different. He doesn't seem joyful or excited like he used too. And he still doesn't seem interested in making time for me unless I mention not messaging and he says 'if you want too'. I don't understand why he's so distant, he's not really loving and caring like he used to be, he's not very talkative anymore and I'm just completely puzzled as to what made this change in him which seems to be a permanent change. Is there something I can do to help him get back to his old self? I've tried speaking to him but he can't see the difference or understands what I mean and I don't want it to end in a dispute again. I just can't understand why these days he always puts me for last and the times I tell him I'm last he says that's not true. I don't know what happened but also he believes strongly in God. Whatever he thinks God tells him, he'll change to please him but if I tell him something it's like I may as well not even bother because it goes it one ear and comes out the other. I feel really hurt because I know that's not how a relationship should be and I know how we used to be compared to now.
Ask the community | communication, arguments, religion
“Culture clash in first relationship”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Hi everyone, I am 19 years old and am in a four month relationship with a guy who I met online on a dating site. I had never been in a relationship before and felt like I was missing something, and even though I'm only 19, I am mature and don't "get along"with many guys my age, we are on just different levels mentally.. My boyfriend is 24 years old, but age here is not the problem. He is here on a tourist visa and didn't even know he wanted to stay here until he met me..he always tells me I am the main reason he is staying here. Even though it’s sweet and all, this does make me feel guilty, since if something were to happen to the relationship, like the guilt would be all on me. Another thing is the culture difference…he acts very different in public, since he is foreign (Israeli) to be exact, and sometimes I just feel like it wouldn’t work out because we are so different. I also feel like I went with my initial feelings and fell too deep into this relationship since he is technically temporarily here and my feelings can also be compromised. I am torn apart sometimes and people tell me he may just be using me for documents…I am not naive and know this can always be a possibility, but we have talked about it and so far he hasn’t done or said anything to make me feel like he is using me. I am not planning on getting married to him any time soon. To me it looks like he really loves me, but I also know this can all be a show and I can be blinded by it. He treats me good, always takes me places, gives me gifts, we talk every day and see each other often. The only thing is he always likes girls pictures on instagram and follows these inappropriate pages…I don’t know what to even tell him regarding this. I think its annoying but this is just another problem. So I know I listed a bunch of problems with this guy, but what drew me to him is the fact that we can have interesting conversations and he seems sensitive, he is different from the guys I am used to being around and I like it. But honestly I feel so torn in this relationship, like I'm wasting both of our time and nothing will come of it and he will hate me for wasting his time in the end. At the same time I am afraid of losing him, because he really is a sweet guy who gives me attention I’ve never had before (perhaps this is another reason I'm attracted to him)???? I know it sounds selfish (the attention part), but I do have other feelings for him. I am just a mess of emotions right now, any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!
Ask the community | long distance
“My boyfriend's religion vs me”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Hi everyone, I have been going through a lot of arguments lately with my boyfriend and I think I have finally come to the root of the problem. I will describe the situation a little bit so you get a better understanding of it. We met quite a few years back and everything was truly perfect, at that time I thought wholeheartedly that this guy was perfect in every single way. He was very loving, caring, thoughtful etc. What stood out to me most was back then, if we did happen to have a disagreement, he'd talk to me instantly, console me, comfort me and put in effort of trying to make me feel better and everything was fine. OR there were times that if something got a little heated, he'd leave but not too long after he'd come back and just try making things right because he didn't want them to linger on. And that was something I truly admired in him. Fast forward to today, those things don't exist anymore. Last year He accepted God in his life and so far he has been trying to do everything to please God. So I don't know if it's because he misunderstands what the Bible says or what but these days when we have an argument, he leaves, lets it linger on for weeks and weeks, is unwilling to communicate about the issue etc. For a very long time I couldn't understand why the change, why he wasn't his old self when it came to fixing things but now ignores them. At first he told me it's because it's so frequent we argue that he doesn't want to be burnt out by it but yesterday I think I came to the actual reason. He was quoting parts of the Bible, ' Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.' He believes when we argue it's pointless but if it's an argument to do with God it's worth having. When I explained to him that I feel like I can't come to him because if I'm upset and I need to get it out and tell him he was already saying that was a quarrel and he didn't want anything more to do with it. It's very hurtful not knowing that he's there emotionally anymore and stirs up more anger in me as well but all he sees is that I'm angry and I need to discard it. How do I make him understand that he's supposed to be caring when times are tough. He needs to push through his emotions too and talk about things because running from them makes it worse. I have told him all this before but it's like he just keeps forgetting which results in me being constantly hurt and mad. I need him to understand that my emotions aren't considered 'a useless quarrel'. I love him and he says the same but since he has come to know God I can't understand why in some ways he has gotten worse.
Ask the community | communication, arguments, religion