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  • Writer's pictureSonia Neale

Seven Reasons Why Couples are Ratty and Exhausted

Updated: Jun 4, 2021

1. Lack of communication skills

Many couples shout through walls at each other. Move to where they are, and if you can’t, call their name once, and wait. That gets their attention then you can shout back at them. Preferably make the effort to be in the same room as your partner. It can take less energy to walk to where they are, than to keep on shouting through the walls.

Use “I” statements with compliment sandwiches

“I feel frustrated when I have showed you how to load the dishwasher and then you cram everything in. I appreciate you doing the dishes, it takes the load off of me, but if you pack it correctly the first time, it would be easier for both of us.”

Be assertive

State what you want. If necessary, negotiate. You might not get everything you want, but you’ll get something.

Have a communication book/whiteboard

It’s not just for shopping lists, it’s for calendar dates as well and all-important reminders.

Susan’s 40th birthday May 30th

Jarrod’s dental appointment Tuesday

Car service due June 25th

Our tenth anniversary next Friday – Don’t miss this one, men!

And so on. This way there are no surprises or missed events. Have a morning and/or evening meeting. Divide the daily tasks/evening meal prep and clean up. I’ll do this, if you do that. Make up personal Rules of Engagement for communication, like, no swearing, no name-calling, no raised voices, no throwing things and a “time-out” safety word.

2. Conflict resolution

Conflict can be really hard to resolve. You’re so familiar with your partner that little things can grind and niggle before escalating into a row. Can you agree to disagree and get on with it? Do you stop talking to each other for weeks on end? Or do you vow never to let the sun set on a disagreement? Rows and arguments can compound for couples. Build up until an enormous explosion. Couples get caught in a pattern which they cannot unlock themselves. An intervention in the pattern is what is needed. Doing something different for a different outcome.

3. Mobile Phones

Many clients complain that their partner pays more attention to their phones than to them, especially at dinner time. Turn off phones and put them in another room for the duration of the meal. Some couples can be having a serious conversation when the other whips out the phone and starts scrolling. This is part habit and part disconnection from the subject being talked about. Giving someone your undivided attention can make them feel wanted and loved. It greatly helps to restore connection between couples.

4. Pornography

Access to pornography has never been easier. Couples often go through each other’s phone when they think their partner is not looking. Female clients can be very upset seeing so called “perfect” women with perfect body parts having wild impossible sex. They feel they are just not “good enough” for their partners anymore, that their body parts just don’t make the grade. It can also make men feel as though they are not enough for their partners. These male porn stars have huge appendages and can make the average bloke feel inadequate. Both men and women are affected by this.

5. Extended family

Let’s face it, you can choose your friends but not your family. The British Royal Family is a good example of this. Great if you all get on, but when you don’t, it can take up a lot of headspace better spent doing something you like. If only it were that easy. If you are able, choose your level of engagement. Only talk at a level that you are both comfortable with. Sometimes books, chooks, movies, the weather, anything neutral, without getting involved in the quagmire of family gossip, both current and historical. Breathe, and breathe some more. Easier said than done. But can work well for some.

6. Work/Life balance

Both parents working is pretty much the norm these days. Some women work full-time, study for a new qualification, and bring up several kids, all at the same time, and then wonder why they are tired all the time. Back in the day, working women was not the norm, kids were kicked out from dawn to dusk, fathers came home and the dinner was made, and afterwards TV or playing board games. Now working late is the norm, bring work home, being on call, early morning zoom meetings, this all just saps our energy. So, what’s left over for partners and children can be compromised. Sometimes there is just no energy at the blunt end of the day. You get into bed at 10pm, tired but wired, fall asleep and have weird dreams, wake up at 3am going over the Top 20 Greatest Mistakes of your Life (like you did the night before, and the night before that, 3am seems to be the witching hour) and fall asleep five minutes before the alarm goes off at 6am, rinse and repeat at least five times a week. No wonder we’re all grumpy.

7. Sexual incompatibility

Sometimes Mum’s too busy with the kids all day, little kids who poke and prod and grab and pull, and scream and throw tantrums. By the end of the day Mum wants to be left alone. She is all touched out. Sex can be just another chore at the end of a day. To mix it up a bit, get a babysitter, go out on a date night and have some “adult” time. Or the woman in the relationship is going through the menopause. During this time, there is a quite severe lessening of bodily sensations all over, not just in the breasts and genital areas. Everything seems to shut down, feel “dead” and there is little or no sexual desire for her partner. Seek medical advice on this one. There may be more going on than there should.

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