Communicating better

The “newsy” bit

I was a little busy last week hence the absence of a blog post. I’m back this week though with a short update and a post on communication skills.

Going forwards both of my interview post series will be fortnightly instead of weekly and will alternate between the Perfectionism and Why don’t men talk? series. This is mainly because working, studying and having a life make interviews a little harder to conduct and publish! In between the above series I will be back writing my short blog posts on something of interest that has popped up during the course of the week. As I am deep into a counselling diploma I think I’ll have some worthwhile things to share with you all.

The “juicy” bit

I don’t think Catherine will mind me telling you that we’ve been working on our communication skills lately. It’s not that we don’t communicate (hand signals count right?!) but that we weren’t getting into the good juicy bits of conversation. Fortunately Catherine didn’t use the frying pan this time to get my attention! Like many of our close friends we’ve been caught up in the busyness of working life and raising a small princess (Alex the Bullmastiff Cross to be precise). We were hamstrung by the life admin chat, the thousand small stress cuts of housework and the upcoming audition for Grand Designs Australian Workshop. Oh my my bad, that last was just my daydream. Also there was the small part (I’m being modest) of my own mental health issues and difficulty in talking about what I was thinking or feeling. Awareness of an issue is the first step in making change and working towards a solution, so thank you Catherine for using the frying pan, metaphorically speaking.

As a result of this newfound awareness and assisted by the help of my own therapy journey we have started some new habits. Fortunately for me I am covering goal setting in my counselling studies, which has come in very handy for counselling myself through this process. The results are a few simple and achievable habits that make a meaningful difference to both of us in making a deeper connection. I’ll keep it brief in explaining them:

1. Daily check-in. We see how each other is feeling and what’s on the other’s mind. Neither of us are mind readers, so this makes it clear what the other is experiencing and helps both in sharing some of this mental burden.

2. We make time for life admin chat and deeper conversation. The former is important for keeping the day to day stuff under control and not adding unnecessary strife. The latter is getting into more meaningful conversation about where each of us are going, what we want and need from each other and in life.

3. Fun dates. It’s too easy to get caught up in life and not make plans to do things you want to do together. So we are focusing on that. Weekly dates and monthly day trips away help to keep fun a priority and create a time for us to connect away from home and work life.

I think it is all too easy to take each other for granted in a long term relationship. Whether it be a friendship or marriage it’s easy to get complacent. What is more challenging but necessary is to work at developing yourselves in order to develop your relationships. I think women understand this far better than men, but that’s a conversation for one of my WDMT? posts! What I am focused on now more than ever is connecting with others on a deeper and more meaningful level. In order to do that I have been using my therapy journey to better understand myself: my flaws, my strengths and my needs. From there it is easier to have control over thoughts, behaviours and actions and be a more honest version of myself. It’s easier said that done mind, but it’s worth the effort.

The “end” bit

I’ll leave it there for today as I’ll follow up with a progress report on how this is going in two weeks. But before I sign off I’d just like to recognise my wife Catherine for her saintly patience and support of me. She’s had to deal with my mental health for many years now, whilst also progressing as an absolute gun in her career. She’s a fire cracker of a woman that I am honoured to call my best friend and wife. Just be weary around her if she has a frying pan in hand.

Until next time stay sane and healthy,

Tom :)