|Susan Jane Smith|
I made a lot of mistakes as a young woman – looking for love in all the wrong places. I had a lot of male attention but not the kind I wanted! When I was 23 years old I had long blonde hair, a very short skirt (it was the 60s) and frequently a plunging neckline. One spring I was photographed by the local newspaper lying on a bank of daffodils and the reporter asked what I wanted most. My reply: “I just want to be happy.” I was desperate for a man to love me and I put up with partners who lied and cheated and who put me down for challenging what was going on – all in order to try to keep them.
Finally, after a lot of counselling in my thirties, I started to make better choices in men and I also changed careers. I then spent 20 years listening to people about their relationships – I was a psychotherapist and later a Divorce Mediator. My clients taught me an enormous amount.
A few years ago a friend had a daughter about to marry and I was asked to write a book about what it would be useful to talk about prior to marriage. “Pre-Marital MOT: A Relationship Inspection” is the result. It has questionnaires which are designed to get you talking about all the minutia that a couple need to negotiate – for instance, people assume that traditions like Sunday lunch will happen the way they did in their family of origin. The only trouble with that is the other person thinks it will be the way it was for them when growing up. Potential conflicts about the little things undermine a couple’s ability to manage major conflict.
If a couple talks through all the material in “Pre-Marital MOT: A Relationship Inspection” before living together or marrying I believe they will develop the communication/negotiating skills that will enhance their years together. Talking and listening are fundamental skills, but few people realise that they are skills, and so never practice them.
Some of the rules are: Don’t try to start a conversation until you have the other person’s attention. Use their name and ask for eye contact before you start. Check out with them what they have understood you to say! It will highlight if they were concentrating more on what they wanted to reply than what you were actually saying.
Communication can facilitate a couple staying together and that is not what happens in the romantic conversations of the early stages of a relationship.
I’m happy in my second marriage and bring to that relationship all that I have learned. I try to practice what I preach!
Please see my other books at www.EmotionalHealthForEmotionalWealth.co.uk
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