The Courage Queen – Mumbler’s Agony Aunts March Q&A
Our Mumbler Agony Aunt is Rachael Alexander, better known as The Courage Queen. This month she advises on how to handle a partner who won’t sit down and discuss relationship difficulties. Her answer and advice is below. If you have a question for next months column please send it to her directly on firstname.lastname@example.org and your question may be picked for next months blog!
Last month I answered a question raised from a lady who since the birth of her child was having relationship difficulties (you can read it here).
My advice was to sit down and list each of their needs; hers, her partners and the child’s. Then together, work out a way they could compromise how all their needs could be met so they all were happy. Hopefully this will have eased burdens for her.
However, what happens when the other person refuses to sit down and discuss the problems? Or if they did promise to change, what do you do when the new behaviour doesn’t materialise – how do you manage that situation?
I strongly believe that some marriages or relationships need to end to enable all parties to move on and be happy. I know it is upsetting when we have made a commitment with another, such as buying a house or having a child trusting that it is the right thing for us all, to realise some months or years down the line that our happiness is being compromised and our fairytale is just that that – a fairytale.
So how do you resolve this?
In my book ‘I Can Handle Divorce’ (which you can buy on my website here) – I suggest ways in which you can resolve difficulties such as talking to a counsellor, or having some form of mediation. But what happens when this is not an option, for example if the other party does not want to talk about your problems to another?
For a relationship to work, both parties need to commit to wanting to make it work. If your partner will not sit down and discuss how you feel with yourself or a professional then you really need to ask yourself two questions:
How committed is this person in wanting to make our relationship work.
If they loved me like they say they do, wouldn’t they do this to make me happy?
I often used to say to my husband, it is very easy to say you love me, but your actions do not back up your words. Remember, words are easy to flip off the tongue, actions to demonstrate love take determined effort and a desire to put someone else first, not just themselves.
When you try and discuss your problems with your partner about how you are feeling, your partner may say the following:
You are being sensitive – it’s your hormones
There is nothing wrong in our relationship
You are just finding problems when there are none there
Everybody argues when they have children
It’s your fault, you nag me all the time
I haven’t got time to sit down and talk about it
I’m not going to change – you married me as I am so why should I change.
As upsetting as it is to hear comments like this, it is even more upsetting to realise that this maybe an indication that your partner is not willing to understand how you feel and more importantly want to help you feel better.
So how do you handle this denial of your feelings?
Before you make any rash decisions try the following:
Take time to reflect on how you feel. Think back over the last month and reflect on times when you have felt frustrated, upset and resentful. Have you got clear examples where you felt your partner was not taking responsibility or was being selfish? Write in a journal how you feel.
Book private time with your partner to talk about how you feel. Make sure you will not be interrupted and try to stay off the alcohol as this can cause tempers to fly sometimes. Be open to hearing times when your partner perceived you as selfish.
Talk it over with a friend who you trust who is not too close to your relationship. The day I realised my marriage was not a pleasurable experience was when a good friend dared to be honest with me and suggested I take a step back for a month and just watch how often my partner cared for mine and my son’s needs. This made me realise it was me doing all the ‘giving’ and he doing all the ‘taking’. Ask your friend to be honest about how they see your relationship.
Talk it over with a professional. There are many excellent counsellors in the local area. You can even access free counseling through the NHS. Book a session with someone like myself who has written a book about divorce and helps people identify how they can make their relationship better.
Take time out for yourself away from your children and partner. Even a night away can help you make some decisions that are right for you. I know people who have had a trial separation and this made them both realise they wanted to work at the relationship. They have got back together and their relationship has been healthier.
If you feel unable to talk to your partner, write him or her a letter explaining how you feel, but make sure you end the letter with some action. i.e. I would like us to talk about this on Monday.
Remember, even if your partner refuses to talk about it, you have a right to be happy and you have a right to be listened too.
Many people do not like to admit their relationship is having problems as they see it as some sort of failure, whereas in reality relationships are about two people compromising and if one person refuses to compromise then this can make your life full of chaos and resentment.
It is not you that is failing but them. It is a sad fact that there are people in relationships all over the world who can only put their needs first and struggle to accommodate another’s needs. No wonder some people spend so much time unhappy in their relationships. This is not the point of relationships.
Research now shows that children who are raised in a non-loving household where people shout or sulk with each other can be more emotionally traumatised than those raised by a single parent in a loving household.
I left my husband when my son was three. We tried counselling but in the counselling process I realised he didn’t want to change and therefore our relationship would be always full of arguments. I didn’t want my son to think that marriage was about arguments so I ended the marriage. 9 years later my son is doing well at school, is emotionally resilient, has plenty of friends and spends more days laughing than feeling sad. I never regret the day I left for both of us.
Choosing to end a relationship takes courage, however I urge you to explore ways to make it work first so you know that if the end does come then you personally tried everything to make it work.
Relationships can be a source of joy, happiness, and mutual respect. I know you deserve to be in one that makes your heart soar rather than sink.
If you would like more practical ways to improve your relationship then visit my website to purchase my book or if you would like to book a private session by Skype then please email me at email@example.com (prices from £45). Sometimes by you changing, makes your relationship change for the better.
If you have a question you’d like Rachael to answer next moth please email it to her here firstname.lastname@example.org.