Breaking-up or Healing-up?

Holidays can be a challenging time for couples. Issues they’ve managed to bury may resurface, possibly leading to constant arguing, or even a breakup or divorce.

The source of most relationship issues is poor communication.

Common reasons why communication breaks down: 

  • Blame, or dominating attitudes
  • Disengaging or withdrawing
  • Resentful compliance
  • Denial or confusion

If you married someone hoping they would ‘change’, you were on a hiding to nowhere. People generally don’t change, but they can develop. A good start is using effective communication skills, including respect, openness and persistence.

Very few people know how to listen. We are so eager to get our tuppence worth in that we don’t actively listen. Instead, we’re just ready to pounce on why we are right, and the other is wrong. Does the word ‘childish’ ring a bell here?

We need to learn how to:

  • Communicate without whining, blaming or being vague
  • Manage emotions, such as intense anger
  • Understand your partner’s main concerns

When the same problems keep arising, rather than asking “What should I do about this problem?”

A better question could be “How do I aspire to be in this situation?”

The first step to heal a relationship comes from a sincere desire to understand the other person and listen from
the heart.

I always teach couples NVC (Non-Violent Communication), a technique originating from Buddhist philosophy, increasingly popular, including, within the United Nations.

Here is a condensed version; however, before launching into it, explain that you’d like to use this technique to become a better communicator.

  1. Ask your partner when would be a good time to bring up something bothering you, agree a day and time.
  2. Bring up only one topic.
  3. Agree on no interruptions from the other, as they will get their chance to speak.
  4. The basic format is Topic + Your feeling about it + Your request.
  5. You then let your partner respond (remember no interruptions and NO BLAME)


“You know when you leave your dirty dishes in front of the TV” (topic),
“It makes me feel angry and disrespected” (taking responsibility for your feelings)

“I wonder if you’d mind clearing them away each time” (request)
Your partner might respond: “I didn’t realise it was such a big thing, I think it’s trivial, but I can see why it might upset you, so yes I will clear my dishes up”. Or in some cases, there might be a compromise.


  • To become competent start with simple topics.
  • Be patient while each of you develops new habits. Cut each other some slack; you will both forget from time to time. Praise, sincerely, when they do remember.

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