Whether the relationship is work-based, familial, or romantic, relationships are integral to our lives. They are a part of our lives and making them a safe space to speak openly and honestly is essential. Often, there is a compromise in relationships, which works when both parties get what they want from the situation. However, what happens if we start doing things that we want to say no to, or the compromise becomes one-sided.
What if we are the adult in the relationship and we need space from our children? (I almost snorted when I wrote this, having just gone into level 2 after 8/9 weeks in lockdown).
Creating space in our relationships gives us time to process situations, find a way to communicate positively, and provide each party boundaries to acceptable behaviour. Get out your journal and write down your thoughts about the relationships you have. Here are the prompts: With each important in your life, ask yourself how would you like to feel in the relationships you have? Where in your life do you think you receive love, understanding and encouragement? How could you discuss this with your loved ones?
So, how do you create space in your relationships?
Here are the three top tips to start you off
- Learn to say no (and in the case of children – learn to say no a million times). Saying yes is easy, especially when you have a 9-year-old who nags and nags about something they want, like the next Nintendo game. Saying yes constantly means that eventually, you are the person that misses out. The same applies to adults too. If it is not something you want to do, say no. For example, invite to a wedding you don't want to go to – thank you so much for the invitation; however, I have other plans (even if that is to wash your hair), or your partner wants you to wax his back, "hey that sounds like a little bit of evil fun, but I don't want to do it. Here is a lady who does a fantastic job at it", and give him your beauty therapist's number. Only say yes to the things you want to do! It's the right way to be rude.
- Put it in your diary to do something just for you. Take a long bath to read that magazine, do yoga or take up a new hobby, get out in nature, but whatever you do, it's all about you. If you don't put it in your diary, though – it is never going to happen! Don't let others stop you from doing it. They will learn to give you the space (yes even children).
- Say goodbye to the relationships that do you harm. Yes, we've all been there, the client that is never happy with the finished work, a friend that sucks the joy out of everything, the partner who puts you down or worse abuses you, or the parent who you can never do right. Focus on the people who build you up, who encourage you and who are loving and compassionate. We all need more of that in our lives. When we let go of relationships that hurt us, we open the door for more positive relationships to enter, and we thrive.
Romantic Relationships (because it just needs its own paragraph)
In romantic relationships, when the other person needs space it often ends in the relationship breaking up completely because over time, instead of communicating what we need and the other person understanding and respecting that, it grows into discontent, building into contempt and ending in resentment. Once the resentment is there, there is no turning back. It often ends in heart break and relationship break ups. I hate seeing friends breakup - I wish at times I could be there to help them but it's not mine to work on, or deal with.
From my own perspective, I think we need to reevaluate relationships, what they look like, be open to change and ensure that they are healthy and align with who we are. Getting rid of any that do not serve us or that harm us. There's also nothing wrong with deciding you want it it look different to everyone else's too.
Recently, my partner and I decided after five years of living together to live apart (there's even an acronym for it - LAT - Living Apart Together). This came about because we loved each other but were utterly miserable from all the other variables in life (mainly kids, exs, work and all the other shit that comes with it). We did counselling, psychologist offices, read books and researched anything we could to make things better. It wasn't working. We were at the point of breaking and no light at the end of the tunnel. We constantly and openly communicated our feelings, dreams, and wants and sometimes it was super hard to hear the honesty.
It was also by no means an easy decision to live apart and came with plenty of tears and heart ache. We miss each other all the time but we both have thrived with having space. We are happier, and when we are together we focus on us. We focus on showing love, talking, making love, holding each other, going for walks and being there for each other. We still communicate every night.
However for me, I can now just focus on one or two people at a time, not 4 to 6 people (blended family). I don't have the baggage that almost killed an amazing relationship with a loving man. Being able to be self-aware and communicate effectively (not always but we work on that too) is important. That has given me the chance to be very creative (hello Wild Women).
It also feels like one of the healthiest relationships I've ever had because I can say the very things I need to, I can be honest, I can say I feel hurt, sad, horny and we work through those. The biggest thing people do is bury their emotions - they only explode in another way later on down the track (or when you've had a few). Learning what a healthy relationship looks like and educating ourselves to what that feels to us, is how we learn to communicate when we need space.
The biggest lie people often say, is the one to themselves and in not speaking up.
While I am on the subject of healthy relationships - domestic violence is the biggest secret that we have in NZ. We have one of the highest rates of domestic violence in OECD countries around the world. It's disgusting and has to stop!
Having experienced domestic violence in my marriage, being all of 26 years old and leaving a person who threw me across a room in his fit of anger, and knowing it took me six months to leave, I will never judge a person who stays.
However, I will say this! Everyone deserves to feel safe in their homes, in their relationships and within their families. Everyone has the responsibility to ensure the safety of others, and not to do anything that would harm another person. Everyone deserves to be loved.
NO ONE DESERVES TO BE HURT!
Love is not bashing, punching, kicking, screaming, gas lighting, nasty comments, or put downs or anything that reduces another human being.
Just like I won't accept that in my home, I don't accept that in my relationships, and I also don't accept that in our groups.
If you are in a situation where you feel you need support there are so many wonderful support agencies that can help.
Shine - Making Homes Violence Free in New Zealand - Shine (2shine.org.nz) Shine Domestic Abuse Helpline | 0508-744-633.Open to take calls 7 days a week, from 9am-11pm. Shine’s Helpline is free to call from any phone in New Zealand.
Mental Health Therapies NZ Charitable Trust | Facebook - free counselling Auckland wide for domestic violence survivors.
Safe To Talk | 0800 044 344Available 24 hrs. Trained specialists for sexual harm, non judgmental, confidential.
Auckland HELP | (09) 623 1700 (24 hour confidential phone line)Available for all victims of sexual violence/abuse – email@example.com
Shakti 24hr Crisis Line | 0800 SHAKTI (0800 742 584).Available 24hrs
Rape Crisis | 0800 883300Available 24hrs
These are my opinions. You may not share them and that's ok - understanding our differences is the starting point to building respect and understanding.
Rebecca Jenkins is the founder of Where the Wild Women Are. She has a background in psychology and human resources, and enjoys writing about topics from gardening to feminism.
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