60 episodes

Relationship advice and exploration. Two experienced and passionate relationship therapists talking about all aspects to do with building fulfilling relationships and marriage advice. All successful relationships start with a good look at yourself. We explore challenges that you might face in your relationships such as stress, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression or loneliness and your physical and mental health in general. We consider how you can build more hope, resilience and strength. And we provide you with plenty of insight and advice on building a long lasting and successful relationship whether you are currently dating, just set out in a relationship or are in an established relationship or marriage, or even if you want to nurture the love in your existing relationship.

The Relationship Maze Relationship advice

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.9 • 7 Ratings

Relationship advice and exploration. Two experienced and passionate relationship therapists talking about all aspects to do with building fulfilling relationships and marriage advice. All successful relationships start with a good look at yourself. We explore challenges that you might face in your relationships such as stress, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression or loneliness and your physical and mental health in general. We consider how you can build more hope, resilience and strength. And we provide you with plenty of insight and advice on building a long lasting and successful relationship whether you are currently dating, just set out in a relationship or are in an established relationship or marriage, or even if you want to nurture the love in your existing relationship.

    Are you always the victim, persecutor or rescuer in conflict situations? - Understanding the drama triangle

    Are you always the victim, persecutor or rescuer in conflict situations? - Understanding the drama triangle

    In conflict situations we tend to step into familiar roles and often endlessly repeat the same unhelpful behaviour patterns. Karpman's Drama Triangle offers a useful model to understand the three roles that play out in these situations and what needs to be done to find a way out of these repetitive conflict scenarios.

    The three roles we can step into are that of The Victim, The Persecutor and The Rescuer.

    The person in the role of the victim feels oppressed, helpless and powerless and inferior. The stance in life is 'Poor Me'.

    The person in the role of the persecutor is blaming, oppressive, critical and superior. Their stance is 'It's all your fault'.

    The person in the rescuer role needs to help, find solutions, be supportive and allows the victim to fail. Their stance is "Let me help you'.

    We tend to have a preferred role that we play in conflict situations. This role was usually formed in our family of origin and is therefore very familiar. However, in the drama triangle we also switch roles from time to time when one position becomes untenable. A victim can become a rescuer or persecutor; a persecutor can become a rescuer or victim.

    Depending on the nature of your relationship you may be stuck in a particular familiar dance: one of you is always the victim, the other always the rescuer. One of you is always hard done by or helpless and the other needs to always support the other and enable your partner's difficulties.

    When stepping out of the drama triangle the aim is to act in a more adult way, rather than from the perspective of child or parent. For more background info on the adult/child/parent model listen to our podcast of 7 March 2021, How to use Transactional Analysis to communicate better.

    Nobody wins in being stuck in the Drama Triangle.  To step out of it you will need to develop more awareness of the role that you play and to take responsibility for your own feelings and behaviours.  Persecutors will need to learn to be more assertive rather than aggressive,  victims will need to learn to recognise their vulnerabilities and learn how to address them and rescuers will need to set more boundaries, allowing the other person to make their own decisions.

    We explore ways of communicating more effectively and dealing with conflict in much more detail in our online course The Relationship Maze. Check out our website to find out more and to access other resources.

    You can also get additional show notes on our podcast website.

    • 29 min
    Don't let the January Blues bring down your relationship - low mood and depression at the start of the year

    Don't let the January Blues bring down your relationship - low mood and depression at the start of the year

    Now that Christmas and New Year is behind you do you struggle with feeling sluggish, more pessimistic and less motivated than usual?  The beginning of the year is often a time when many people experience very low mood. The month of January is often associated with high levels of depressive episodes. While the idea of 'Blue Monday' is reportedly a marketing invention by a travel company many mental health organisations report a 25% in the incidence of client depression.

    In today's episode we discuss the difference between clinical depression and short term low mood episodes.  Our moods fluctuate all the time and a short period of low mood does not mean that we are depressed. We look at the reasons for the high number of people feeling low after Christmas. We also look at the impact of depression on individual partners as well as the couple system.

    For more info on approaches to addressing and treating depression please listen to our podcast of the same title on 3 May 2021.

    The PHQ9 is a short questionnaire which measures the severity of depression. (Depression Severity: 0-4 none, 5-9 mild, 10-14 moderate, 15-19 moderately severe, 20-27 severe). Please be advised to contact a mental health professional if your depression severity is high.

    We are adding more and more resources on our website The Relationship Maze - head over there now and find new ways to help you improve your relationships.

    Get additional show notes on our podcast website here.

    • 27 min
    New year's resolutions - How your values may inform your relationship goals for 2022

    New year's resolutions - How your values may inform your relationship goals for 2022

    In this episode we talk about new year's resolutions for the incoming year. We start off by discussing the relative merits of new year's resolutions and setting yourself goals in general. You may always start the year with lots of new plans or you may not.  Is now the time to consider what matters to you in your life and in your relationships? How do your values inform the goals that you are setting for yourself, either in your relationship or in aiming to find the right relationship for you?

    We set goals explicitly or implicitly all the time. Goals give us a sense of direction in life. However, before setting off in trying to reach a particular goal it is helpful to consider first of all why  you might want to achieve a certain goal. What informs your desire to have a specific relationship goal?  For example, if your value is to have a close connection with your partner then you your goals should be related to this overarching value.  One of your goals could be to learn to manage conflict more effectively. Disagreements with your partner that can be addressed and resolved build more connection and intimacy in the relationship. Another goal may be to go to dance classes or to undertake other activities that bring enjoyment to the relationship and help you build connection.

    If you are single it would be helpful to have a clear understanding of the values that matter to you in a relationship. These values will clarify the goals that you can set yourself in going about on your partner search.

    We briefly discuss different goal setting models such as SMART and GROW that can be helpful in breaking down your goals and keeping you focused on getting the result that you would like to see.

    We are adding more and more resources on our website The Relationship Maze - head over there now and find new ways to help you improve your relationships.

    Get additional show notes on our podcast website here.

    • 31 min
    How differentiated are you? The key signs that indicate your level of success in a relationship

    How differentiated are you? The key signs that indicate your level of success in a relationship

    In today's episode Angela talks about the concept of differentiation. Differentiation refers to our ability to develop and evolve psychologically, on our own and in relationships with others. In relationships we need to maintain our sense of self while also getting close to another person without losing our identity. Differentiation means we are neither emotionally fused nor are we completely separate from each either; we know who we are and we can tolerate our partner being different from us. We can be our self within the structure of an intimate relationship. The higher the level of differentiation in the couple, the more mature and successful the relationship. 
    Angela discusses the signs that show that you are in a relationship where one or both partners are poorly differentiated. Or maybe you are in a relationship that shows  high levels of differentiation?

    Being locked up and thrown more closely together as a couple has been quite challenging for lots of couples during the pandemic. One indicator of a relationship that is mature and able to survive a lot of strain and stress in the relationship is the level of differentiation. Arguably a high level of differentiation in both partners is the number one indicator of a successful relationship. 

    In a nutshell differentiation is the process by which we become more uniquely ourselves by maintaining ourselves in relationship with those we love. 

    There are two forces that pull us in a different direction in every relationship:
    Our need for togetherness. The pull to be loved and belong, to be part of a group. In this polarity, we might choose to minimize our personal preferences or dull our traits in order to be loved by our partner.Autonomy/individuality. The pull to be myself and to follow my own directives. The need to create our own unique identify. Differentiation is higher order to togetherness and autonomy. In relationships we need both. In today’s society independence is prized above all. It is seen as as strength. Therefore there is often confusion about this in relationships. Surely, if I am more independent that’s a good thing? Independence is a very valuable but relationships also require interdependence. We all have a need to be cared for and loved.

    Signs that there are low levels of differentiation in the relationship include
    An excessive need for harmony and the complete avoidance of conflict.Constant fighting as both partners can only see their own position as valid. Distancing yourself from your partner based on the belief that nothing can be resolved.Leading separate lives.Spilling over into each other. One or both partners feel responsible for the feelings of the other.Signs of high levels of differentiation in a couples
    Having a strong sense of self.Being able to distinguish between feeling and thought.Knowing your own position while tolerating that of others.Solid self but permeable to others. You can take on different perspectives without ‘losing yourself’.Being able to connect with your partner without fear of being taken over by their emotion.Being able to have mutuality in the relationship: following your own path for growth as well as being concerned about your partner’s wellbeing and growth.We are adding more and more resources on our website The Relationship Maze - head over there now and find new ways to help you improve your relationships.

    Get additional show notes on our podcast website here.

    • 22 min
    Having less stress at Christmas - synching your expectations around money, spending time with wider family and chores

    Having less stress at Christmas - synching your expectations around money, spending time with wider family and chores

    If you celebrate Christmas you may have all sorts of expectations of the festive days. Based on your earlier experiences of Christmas you are likely to have a number of associations with Christmas - some positive, some negative. Many couples experience Christmas as stressful for a number of reasons: giving and receiving gifts that are appropriate, concerns about spending a lot of money,  spending time with your partner's family and managing the various chores on the day(s). If you are single and spending Christmas without family, the holiday period can be experienced as intensely lonely.
    In this episode we discuss these potential stressors and consider ways of preparing for Christmas as best as possible.


    Expectations
    You are likely to have a particular script about the way you would ideally like to spend Christmas; this may either be a wish for a corrective experience, now wanting Christmas to be the way you always wanted it to be but never quite got or a wish for the Christmas that you always had as a child and that you want to replicate as best as possible.
    Check with your partner what they want to avoid possible disappointments. Agree ahead of the Christmas days what you both wish for.

    Gifts
    You may have a very clear idea in your head about the kind of present you want to get for your partner. Your partner may have the same thoughts. You may find that your ideas about Christmas presents vary wildly. One of you may be used to getting very extravagant presents; the other may buy a 'small' present. There can easily be disappointments about the presents that are received. It helps to clarify from the outset what your expectations (and means) are and to agree whether you want to surprise each other or indicate what you would like to receive.

    Money
    Money has a transactional value that goes beyond monetary value. Money has symbolic significance; it can stand in for love, power, success, autonomy, dependence or sexiness. Each of us has grown up with a specific concept of money depending on how it (or the lack of it) was experienced when you are growing up. Partners in relationships need to have conversations about money and how it gets managed in the relationship, in particular when living together.
    At Christmas disparities and different ideas about money often come to the fore. Be clear what and how you want to spend your money over the festive period if you often experience challenges in this area.

    The wider family - your partner's parents
    You may enjoy your partner's family/parents in which case there is no stress around spending extended time together. You may, however, find your partner's family challenging. There will need to be acceptance up to a point that your partner would like to spend Christmas with their family, however, you can also make prior agreements to have time out if and when needed.

    Domestic chores
    Often stress arises as one partner perceives to do more work in preparing for the day or hosting the event. Develop a plan with your partner agreeing who does what: who does the shopping, cooking, wrapping of presents or looking after the guests on the day.  Make a list of the various tasks ahead of time and agree who manages which task

    We would really love to hear from you. Email us to share your ideas about addressing the issues that we mention in this episode: info@therelationshipmaze.com.

    We are proud to be celebrating our first year of The Relationship Maze podcast. You have the one off opportunity to win FREE access to our detailed online course The Relationship Maze by joining this promotion. Click here to enter.

    Get additional show notes on our podcast website here.

    • 25 min
    How does your attachment style influence your mindset? - Security, insecurity and rigidity in relationships and dating

    How does your attachment style influence your mindset? - Security, insecurity and rigidity in relationships and dating

    Are you aware of your attachment style in relationships? Do you know what activates you into feeling insecure in a relationship? Knowing your attachment style will be hugely beneficial in understanding how you relate to other people. In this episode we consider whether your mindset is determined by your attachment style. We ask whether an insecure attachment style is more likely to lead to a fixed mindset and conversely whether a growth mindset can contribute to changing your attachment style. We briefly discuss the four attachment styles and how they manifest in relationships: secure, anxious-preoccupied, avoidant-dismissive and fearful-disorganised. Neither attachment styles nor mindsets are set in stone - a growth mindset can contribute to developing security in relationships.

    Your attachment style is your specific way of relating to other people. Attachment Theory was originally developed by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth. As a child you create an internal working model or template of relationships  based on your experiences with your primary care giver(s). As adults we carry forward these templates; they will inform what we expect of relationships and our partners and how we respond to their behaviour. While these templates are not set in stone, they originate in our childhood experiences and get confirmed or amended with subsequent experiences in adult life.
    The following are a very brief summary of the different attachment styles:

    Secure attachment

     You find it easy to establish strong, intimate relationships. You can share how you feel - the good, the bad and the ugly. You trust other people and are happy to both give and receive love. You can depend on your partner but also be independent.
     
    Insecure attachment

    Anxious-preoccupied: you are very concerned about being abandoned by your partner - ultimately you cannot trust anybody to stick around for long. You need quite a lot of validation and reassurance by your partner and will often be experienced as 'needy' in the relationship. You spend a lot of time thinking about the relationship, constantly analysing what has been said and what this may mean.

    Avoidant-dismissive: you are highly independent and struggle with too much closeness to your partner. You easily feel suffocated and trapped. You cannot really trust anyone to be there for you in the long run so you may as well best rely only on yourself. You tend to keep your feelings to yourself.

    Fearful-disorganised: you want closeness but are also highly worried about being too dependent on anybody else. You want affection but are also highly suspicious of anybody who offers it to you. You may engage in a lot of risky behaviour and may be more likely to end up in a relationship that is violent. You struggle to regulate your emotions.

    Roughly 50% of adults have a secure attachment style with the remainder of the population displaying an insecure attachment, that is either anxious (20%), avoidant (25%) or fearful (5%).

    A relationship is secure if one partner is secure. The most common presentation in couples therapy is one where one partner is anxious and the other is avoidant.
     
    With an insecure attachment there is arguably a higher likelihood for a fixed mindset where a partner is either idealised or the relationship is experienced as threatened if any conflict arises. Conversely, a secure partner is more likely to have a growth mindset: relationships are seen as evolving, a partner's imperfection are acknowledged and not seen as threatening to the relationship overall and conflict is seen as inevitable and a possibility for learning about each other's differences.  Having a growth mindset enables the development of a secure attachment and vice versa. Both are intrinsically linked.

    To find out more about your attachment style and how partners with secure or insecure attachment styles interact with each other listen

    • 30 min

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