Family and Relationships

Sometimes we can take our family and our relationships with people for granted, but it's important to recognise that they should be looked after, just as we would with out mental and physical health. We explore ways to communicate with others, how to balance your personal and working life and common relationship problems that you may experience, including disagreements around parenting.

Having a good work-life balance

Work is an important aspect of a lot of people's lives, the average person will spean 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime. It's important that we find a good work-life balance, which can be difficult when you need to provide for yourself or your family and also make time for yourself and be there for your family.

Having a good work-life balance means different things to all of us, it's not as simple as splitting your time between work and leisure 50/50, but rather making sure you feel fulfilled and content in both areas of your life. It may be meeting your deadlines and having time for friends and family, having time to sleep properly and eating well, or not worrying about work when you at home.

The first step is to work out if you have a healthy balance. It can be easy to normalise working long hours or being under extreme stress, especially now when we are all worried about the cost of living.

It can be difficult to take a step back and make changes but we have some tips:

  • Pause: take the time to ask yourself some questions, what's causing me stress or unhappiness? How is it affecting my work and personal life? Am I prioritising the right things? We sometimes don't take the time to stop and think about these things but pausing can help you discover if the way you are currently living, works for you

  • Pay attention: Once you're more aware of your current situation, you can think about how it makes you feel. Do you feel content and happy or angry and resentful? Now you can decide which changes you want to make

  • Reprioritise: Look at the changes you want to make and how you can make yourself happier. Is it worth working long hours and missing out on family time or loosing your social life? If it's not make a change!

  • Alternatives & Changes: Could you make any changes at work to help you get to your new priorities? Maybe you could work from home 2 days a week and cut out the commute, ask for more flexible hours, make sure you use all your annual leave and set a rule that you don't check your emails at weekends

It can be really overwhelming to try and get a better work-life balance but little changes can make a big difference!

Disagreements on parenting

It's very common for partners to disagree on some aspect of parenting. We all have our own values that are not always shared. The key thing here is a compromise, your child should be raised with both of your values in mind, not just those held by one parent.

It may be that you think your child should be disciplined in a certain way and your partner disagrees. It's easy to both become rooted in your position and what started as a problem between you and your child quickly evolves into a problem with your partner.

Kids know when their parents aren't united and this creates anxiety for them because they are unsure of the rules and what matters and what doesn't, this anxiety can contribute to further behaviour issues.

Kids can also start to play one parent off against the other to get themselves off the hook as the parents are too busy fighting each other. This isn't a situation you want to be in with either your partner or child, which is why unity, even if you disagree, is crucial. Make a rule that if one parent disciplines a child, the other parent must back it up in front of the child, you can discuss it later privately. You can still empathise with your child but you are backing your partner and showing a united front.

Here are some tips to use:

  • Talk it out: you may have talked about your parenting style way before having children but even if you didn't it's never too late to start or revisit it. You may talk about how you were parented and what you'd do the same or different. Be willing to listen and hear their reasons for their views.

  • Create rules together: this is exactly what it says on the tin! Think about the key things you want to set rules for - what age your kids can have a mobile phone when they can have sleepovers or bedtimes

  • Agree on Consequences: you need to agree on what the consequences are for breaking the rules in your home. Of course, these aren't always specific and some parents prefer to talk to children about mistakes
    Back each other up: it's important that you stick to your plan and are consistent with your children

  • Be flexible: The way you parent should be flexible enough to change as your children grow up. You'll both need to reassess and adapt along the way.

  • Give second chances: we are only human and all make mistakes. One of you may make a bad decision or loose your cool but don't start hurling accusations, stay calm and talk about it later

  • Don't involve children in disagreements: It's important not to involve the kids in disagreements, don't ask for their opinion or ask them to take sides. This creates division between you and your partner and puts the child in a very awkward position"

Common relationship problems

There are lots of problems that can occur in relationships and we're going to look at 7 of the most common ones.

  • Communication: effective, honest communication is essential to relationship success. We all communciate differently and the key thing is understanding your partners communication language and therefore your relationship communication language. To improve communication and emotional connection in your relationship try focusing on the following; Look at where your conversations are breaking down, don't expect your partner to read your mind, be open and honest about your feelings, practice being a good listener and think before you respond.

  • Arguments: relevant debates can be healthy and important but spiteful arguments are hurtful. Try implementing these rules for arguing; breath before you respond, don't swear, don't name call and stick to the point.

  • Staying close; Every long term relationship changes but this doesn't mean your relationship can't continue working. It's important to stay close as a couple, even when your changing as an individual. Continue to make time for each other, talk with each other and honestly discuss how you see the future evolving.

  • Sex & Intimacy: This is an important part of any relationship and many relationship problems are sex-based. Ask yourself what you want sexually and encourage your partner to do the same, you can then discuss this together. Be mutually respectful of each other's desire and needs.

  • Infidelity: If your partner has cheated, physically or emotionally, only you can decide if you can forgive them or need to move on. If you do decide to stay you will need to be honest about what happened and work together to solve any underlying issues.

  • Money: this is one of the most common issues in relationships and a lot of couples argue about finances. Financial pressures can lead to major relationship issues. You should have a clear understanding with your partner about who's responsible for what, by having a simple budget you can avoid unnecessary arguments.

How to improve your communication

Communication is a big part of any relationship, whether that's with a family member or partner. Here are some practical tips to improving your communication opportunities and skills.

  • Be available: try and make time in your schedule to stop and talk about things, without any distractions.
  • Schedule Family time: this should be quality time. If necessary, remove some already planned activities from your lives to make room for the ones that involve the entire family.
  • Establish family routines: these can be as simple as reading a bedtime story, a movie, concert or another fun activity.
  • Eat meals together: It may not be realistic to eat all your meals together but make sure some of the meals are together. People often communicate more openly and clearly in these situations.
  • Allow for one-to-one time: Whilst group time is great, it's important to set aside one-to-one time with family members.
  • Be an active listener: one of the most important things you can do is make sure you are 100% focused on what your loved one is communicating. A simple way is to turn of.f or ignore electronic devices, don't interrupt and focus on listening.

Relationship communication:

  • Make time to have conversations with each other: set aside specific time with your friends and family at a time that is convenient so that you're focused on the conversation rather than other distractions, such as work.