I have recently been dipping into my Relate's guide to better relationships. Although no longer in print it is full of useful little exercises to discover what's going on in your close relationships.
Here's one to try.
Divide a piece of A4 paper in two. On the top half draw circles to represent yourself, members of your family and friends who are important to you. Make the circles any size you want. Put the initials or name of each person in the circles and place them as near or as far away from you as you feel they are. Consider their relation to each other. Put up to five pluses and minuses in each circle to show how supportive each person is to you (someone who is physically far away can still be very supportive).
Use the diagram to focus on the way you life is presently and how rewarding your current relationships are. Do you like this pattern? Is there anything you would like to change? Use the bottom half of the page to draw these relationships as you would like them to be.
Looking at your desired pattern, consider the following:
- what needs to happen for these changes to be possible?
- what would be the impact on your life if these changes occurred?
- how would this other person rate you in their pattern, with their own pluses and minuses?
- what is realistically possible from your side in making the change?
To Change Or Not To Change..
Making changes is a matter of choice and unless these are being forced upon you, it can be very hard to do. Breaking out of old, entrenched habits takes time and can be a painful experience if handled badly. There is also often the fear of breaking up anyway, if issues are looked at too closely. In reality, communicating properly and making adjustments keeps you on course, much as it would if driving a car, flying a plane or sailing a boat.
How this is handled is the key and professional counselling is a valuable resource. It need only be short-term and gives the added insight, tools and support to make the changes possible. Unfortunately, most couples wait 6 years (on average) to seek out support and many more fall apart without ever seeking this support. The Gottman Institute is set up to provide research and understanding to couples experiencing problems and making changes and a good reading resource also. Check them out at: