Life for the average couple these days is beyond hectic. Keeping on top of work, friends and family in the era of social media is a full time job in and of itself! If you throw children into the mix then there is the added time needed to ferry them to sport, friends and dozens of other activities which kids want to be involved in. If you live in a blended family with children from different relationships the complexity simply becomes exponential.

One of the biggest opportunities for couples, often missed, is to be the main support for each other within the busyness of our lives. To be a port in the storm for each other. However, what often happens is that stresses from outside the couple relationship end up getting in the way. Sadly, we end up seeing our partner as just another source of stress. Then we miss out on being a safe haven for each other.

A good antidote to this situation is what John Gottman calls The Stress Reducing Conversation. This is where a couple takes the time to greet each other regularly with a short conversation in which the only goal is to be on each other’s side – not to solve problems. You can find a great example of this kind of conversation in a brief video by Jason Headly called It’s Not About The Nail.

It is often said that women need men to stop solving their problems and just listen to them. Another way of saying this is they need to know their male partner is on their side. But actually men need this just as much, it’s just they are not typically very good at it (as you see in the video). Same sex couples are no different. For love to remain present in any relationship, a good place to start is to practice listening to each other without giving advice and without leaping into trying to fix each other’s problems.

In Positive Health, Canberra. Nel MacBean Speech Pathologist Canberra. Campbell MacBean Psychologist Canberra.