Do you find yourself comparing your partner with someone else, to your partner’s disadvantage? Is your partner aware of what you are doing? Ask yourself how you would feel if you found out that you were constantly being measured against your partner’s previous boy or girlfriend and found lacking? Imagine what it would do to your confidence, your self-esteem, your wish to remain with the person doing the comparing. Even positive comparisons can have a negative impact on your relationship if they occur too often – your partner might hear not that s/he is perfect in your eyes but that your thoughts are constantly with someone else. No-one exists in isolation and it is quite natural to make comparisons, but it is also much more positive to concentrate on the uniqueness of your partner, on all the things that make him/her so special, on the reasons your were attracted to them in the first place.
All too often it can happen that you say something in the belief that you are being helpful only to find that you are accused of nagging. The gentle reminder that something needs to be done, if repeated, will no longer feel like help, it will feel like ongoing negative criticism and a lack of confidence in the hearer. If your partner has asked to be reminded then it’s fine, but if s/he has not, try to limit your intervention to a single comment and hold your tongue thereafter. Again, try to imagine how you would feel if you were constantly being reminded of something you had not forgotten about and were dealing with in your own way.
Yet another place where it is all too easy to lose your step in the relationship dance is how very simple it can be to make your partner feel guilty by constantly reminding him/her of how much you do, which can imply that s/he does very little. Guilt is not a useful feeling and very rarely has positive outcomes. Again, what you mean and what your partner hears can be far apart. You might intend to say that you feel unappreciated while your partner ends up feeling that s/he is the unappreciated one whose attempts to help have been rejected or not noticed, leading to mutual resentment and the feeling that nothing is fair any more, and making it less likely that your partner will voluntarily and cheerfully help you out.
If anything in this article sounds familiar, remember that it is possible to change things in your relationship. Simply talking things through calmly with your partner could be all that is needed, but if you have become aware that you have a history of misunderstanding each other, talking things through with someone who is detached from your situation could be very helpful and supportive. To repeat what has been said earlier, at Birmingham Counselling Services there are qualified and experienced counsellors who could work with you as individuals or as a couple, to support you in your determination to save and improve your relationship. You can get in touch with us via our website: www.BirminghamCounsellingServices.co.uk or by calling us on 0121 314 9903.