Nothing, absolutely nothing, will be more critical to your entire life than the quality of the relationships you make. From the time you are born until the time you die, you cannot survive without other people and research now suggests it will be the depth of the connections you make and not fame, career success, or money that will determine your general well-being. Within the work environment, your ability to relate well to others is one of the attributes that will influence not only opportunities for promotion but also your general job satisfaction.
Many of our relationships are in crisis, and the impact - physiologically, psychologically and financially - when they break down, wholly, partially, temporarily or permanently, is massive. So there is tremendous incentive to make relationships work better. Most of us learn how to relate to others from our primary role models - our parents.
We pick up good or bad habits, which we then replicate through our lives. It is often only when a crisis occurs within an important relationship that we start to take the subject seriously, and search for solutions. Because the school curriculum traditionally has not dealt with this kind of material and the issues are complex, we often struggle to make sense of it all and don’t know where to begin. This book will provide you with some guidance.
Why the title?
Because it encompasses the idea that a relationship includes at the fundamental level, three discrete components - you, your partner, and the resulting combination of these two inputs.
Who is this book for?
This is not an academic text for professional therapists. There are enough long, jargon-ridden, well-researched texts available to meet their needs. This manual is designed to meet the needs of the average man or woman in the street who recognises their relationship could be improved, and who wants somewhere to start. Each of the key ideas has been expressed simply and succinctly, so you can get the gist quickly. If you want to explore the idea further, there are suggestions on how to do that at the end by reference to other materials and organisations.
What is this book not designed for?
This book is not meant as a substitute for good, professional help. It is meant as an introductory guide to understanding a range of sound relationship principles. Whether you are then able to use the information to your relationship’s advantage is dependent on many factors such as - How interested you are in trying to improve. - How committed you are. - How well your circumstances support these changes.
What can this book offer?
The challenge in writing this book was not lack of available subject matter, but rather how to prioritise the wealth of relevant information, and therefore what to exclude. Different therapists will naturally emphasise different topics and use different models, based on their training and their own experience. This book does not represent any particular theory, and is an amalgam of topics based on my experience in working with couples, business people, and teams, and in talking with my professional colleagues.
I have tried to give you a cross-section of the areas that in general should be highly relevant. There is no one section called “communication” because communication is at the heart of all 41 scenarios. Without it a relationship could not exist, and so how well you learn to talk and listen to each other is the major determinant of relationship success.
If you find there are some topics which have not been included that you feel deserve attention, I would appreciate your comments via email
What will you get from this book?
- Immediate outcomes
- An understanding about the attitudes and behaviours that are helpful and those which are not.
- Choices you can make about helpful alternatives. Longer-term outcomes
- An increase in your relational consciousness, so you start to notice not only your own but also the behaviour of others.
- An improvement in your relational competence, so you start to think and act differently when relating with others.
- An increase in your self-awareness so you will be able to optimise your relational strengths and minimise your relational weaknesses.
How could you use this book?
In a time-pressured world, many readers will not have the time or inclination to wade through lengthy explanations. This book has therefore been designed as a series of 41 separate, unconnected scenarios, so you don’t have to read it sequentially or from cover to cover.
Scenario 41 is not necessarily more or less important than Scenario 1 because each relationship dynamic is different, and therefore the topics that are highly relevant may vary from one relationship to another. Each scenario is based around a key idea followed by a series of action plans, which are designed to give you constructive alternatives to the status quo. What you then do with what you’ve read is up to you. - You can work on it by yourself. - You can encourage your partner to read it and work with you on the relevant areas. - You can visit a relationships therapist and use these insights as a starting point.
What are the bookmarks for?
The bookmarks can be used just as bookmarks or if you can recognise yourself or your partner in any of the scenes, you and your partner can mark the bookmarks in the spaces provided. You will then be able to see which issues you agree on and where you each feel differently. You don’t have to agree on a topic for it to be important enough to explore further. If either one of you nominates a scenario, it is worth following up.
You may decide you will try first of all to work on the issues together, or you may feel you need the assistance of someone external to your relationship. There is no magic number which indicates the need to see a professional therapist, because even just one issue may be enough justification to investigate further.
Caution In the same way that putting fertiliser on a plant will not guarantee healthy growth, the author accepts no responsibility for any consequences which may arise from the implementation of any or all of the strategies outlined in this book.
Sometimes a relationship can deteriorate to such a point it doesn’t matter whatever either partner then does to try to repair it, it is too late. However where there is still hope, however miniscule, any investment in constructive change is worth the effort and offers the chance for improvement. And... the sooner you start the better.
My purpose in writing this book is primarily to give your relationships a better chance for survival by exposing you to those attitudes and behaviours that generally tend to be unhelpful, and by giving you positive alternatives. I would encourage you to approach the material by trying firstly to recognise yourself in the pages and then being prepared to own the responsibility for making any necessary personal changes. In other words, before pointing your finger at what your partner is doing or not doing, try to look at your own attitudes and behaviours first.
Your partner may not be able to see the part they may play, and therefore may not be able to own the responsibility for their change. While relationship improvement ideally involves a commitment from both partners, any attempt by even just one partner can make a difference.
By starting with yourself, even without joint involvement, you will be giving yourselves a better chance than by neither working on the issues.
I sincerely wish you well. Rosemary Tilley