As we launch Between Us, our new App, designed to help couples relate better between themselves, Honor Rhodes explores why the deep need for better understanding, which is what really helps relationships thrive, is so often replaced by surface gestures and miscommunication. Often this means tools and professional help - such as we offer - are needed.
All the ‘getting ready for Valentine’s Day’ starts in mid-January and cranks up notches every week. If we aren’t bulk buying cava, red roses and heart shaped chocolates, we can be left feeling our relationship will go unnoticed. But what we know about what makes relationships really work, is more complicated, of course.
What we long for in our couple relationships is to be loved, to be ‘known’, held by the other person as a precious and important being, for all our flaws and shortcomings. And that is what they long for from us. Lots of things get in the way, children, locked down lives, the grind of work and duty, household routines and tasks can make us feel a long way away from our romantic lives and passion.
It can be hard to even have a conversation about what we long for, what we miss and how we hope things can be different.
Helping couples to communicate better all year round
Helping couples to have those conversations, at Valentine’s Day and the other 364 days of the year has been on our minds for a long time. Tavistock Relationships helps thousands of people every year through our therapy and counselling, but what about all the other couples? People who just long to have better communication, kinder and more attentive relationships, to have more ease and comfort, to feel more passionately loved and important?
You would think there would be an App for that, and you’d be right. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we are launching our new free Between Us app. We’ve designed it with the couple in mind. Both partners can use it together on their own phones, so they can compare your answers and thoughts. It will also help one person in a relationship who wants to try it on their own; even on our own we can set in train some of the changes we would like to see for ourselves and our partner.
Our new relationship App is based on years of clinical practice
We have based the App content on our years of clinical practice and research evidence. It focuses on helping couples identify the issues that are holding them back from having the relationship they want and need. It helps people explore their differences, of belief, of hope, or what is good enough.
We know that being parents is hard, taking so much of time and energy, that we have little or none left over for our partner. Being so busy all the time we run our couple relationship emotional tank down to empty and then wonder why our relationship has become strained and full of conflict. It doesn’t need petrol but a dedicated investment of attention and time.
Help to talk honestly about your emotions
The App is designed to help parental couples too, by resolving the areas of conflict and resentment, by helping us talk honestly about those emotions that don’t get mentioned on Valentine’s Day or other days. Feelings of annoyance, envy, jealousy and rage can be pushed away or under the carpet, bottled up and ignored until they explode from inside us, taking us and our partners by surprise.
How to better understand what is in our partner’s mind
Understanding our own feelings is one of the more important tasks we can do within our relationship, but we also need to learn how to be better at wondering what is in our partner’s mind. Seeing things from our partner’s point of view helps us to show them that we can pause and reflect on what has been said or done that was hurtful or harmful. We can learn to say “I’m so sorry” better, more quickly and in a way that helps repair a hurt. We can help our partners apologise to us by being able to receive their apology, without making it feel like a punishment or demeaning.
Find ways to ‘fight fair’
Arguments and conflict happen in all relationships, even the most healthy and durable, but we need to learn how to ‘fight fair’. If we were boxing there would be a ring, we would weigh similar amounts and there would be a referee. So before our next row with our partner we could agree the rules of safety that the ring and the referee represent. The Between Us App can help you decide on these rules and help you stick to them, even when the emotional heat is on. It provides the scaffolding whilst you and your partner rebuild and restore your relationship.
And not just on Valentine’s Day! So, while we wish you chocolate, balloons and heart shaped gifts, we think that investing in the App might be the best and the most lasting present you could give your partner and yourself. Talk more, argue less, love better and be the best couple you can be.
You can download the app for free here.