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"Notes" #4

Things Successful Couples Do!

COVID-19 has meant seclusion, staying at home, no work, no theatre, no sports, no gym or dinners out to break the monotony of constantly being together. Living day after day "together" can create some tension, and if we don't have the normal stress relievers/escape activities, things can build up and irritations can become full-blown anger episodes.

What can we do to help ourselves in these isolating times? Well there must be several hundred articles on-line that talk about various activities a family can do. I would like to contribute by talking about what successful couples do under normal circumstances. From their success, maybe we can extrapolate some things to do in these less than normal times.

But before I get to the positive things successful people do, I'd like to share some excerpts from an article in the Winnipeg Free Press, April 25, 2020 written by Nigaan Sinclair, one of my favourite journalists, who wrote about how the tension of COVID-19 is affecting domestic violence and abuse here at home and in other countries:

China's Hubei province, domestic violence triple after locked down; France's domestic abuse risen 36%, Brazil 36%, UK 25%.

Vancouver, calls to the domestic violence shelters have tripled. Winnipeg (I had no idea of the volume of domestic violence calls to police) has 44 calls per day or 16,000 domestic violence calls per year. Those in the justice system are saying, "The amount of domestic violence cases during the pandemic is unprecedented".

Interestingly, the number of reports of child abuse reported to child welfare agencies is down- the reason being that 90% of  reports of child abuse come from school staff, and there is no school at this time.

I have a saying/belief that I share quite often with clients, "Stopping a bad habit or behaviour is important, but starting a good habit/behaviour is more important." What successful couples do is to constantly look for the positive in their partner- what is he/she doing right? Praise the hell out of what you want to see (positive habits and behaviours) and forget about the ones you don't want to see." Throw in several "thank you" statements a day and the home environment looks much sunnier.

Couples who describe their relationship as good, rarely "lose it". They have passionate discussions about what they think, feel, value, believe (their opinions), but rarely argue and definitely follow one of the golden rules of good relationships, that being, "You never want to win and your partner lose." Going for the "Win" can get dirty-- bringing up the past, name-calling, threatening, and eye rolling. Instead, successful couples listen well to their partner's thoughts and ideas, and then express how they see the issue. They feel no need to criticize or judge their partner even if they disagree with them. Nevertheless, both partners must always strive to become "better and more respectful listeners", and be aware of their tone if communication is to be a success and the relationship seen as a positive one.

Two great lines for starting a conversation/discussion that just might end well:
"This is how I see it, how do you see it?"
          "Why is this so important to you?" 

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