Assertiveness in relationships

How easily can you ask for what you want and what you don’t, and can you say no?

Every person in the world has needs and wants, and in a relationship with another person these are not necessarily known by a partner. But many of us fall into the trap of expecting that a partner “should” know what we need or want. “But why?”

Some say that as little boys and girls grow up watching their parents relate together, they form an internal image of how their own adult relationships are going to be. So according to this theory, we enter a relationship with another person with expectations based on relational experience that we have been shown within our own family. This means that we could have either good or bad expectations according to the parental role modelling we have received, which seems quite plausible. However, without realising what we are doing, this theory suggests that we start judging a partner on the basis of previous experience with others, with whom our partner has probably not had much, if any, contact. How plausible does this seem? On the face of it, completely irrational!

This is because much of our behaviour is motivated outside of our conscious control which means that we are not always aware of why we do or think what we do until we have the opportunity for reflection.

Couples counselling affords this opportunity and it can be extremely insightful for two people to start to understand their difficulties given their different family experiences of relationship. If the relationship is valued, then it might be perceived as a dimension in its own right into which both partners can feed both positively and negatively. Counselling will enable such an exploration so that partners can become more understanding of their fundamental differences. Once this is established, the relationship might then benefit from a greater degree of assertiveness, which counselling can offer through a coaching format based on assertiveness skills.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Brighton, East Sussex, BN3 3WG

Written by Claire Sainsbury

Brighton, East Sussex, BN3 3WG

Claire Sainsbury is an integrative counsellor and coach with a special interest in helping people change unhealthy life habits to promote a better quality of living.

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