When home is a battlefield
Home should be a place of tranquility. Somewhere to shut yourself off from the world, feel safe and recharge. For many people though, this is not at all what they experience. I see many clients who are miserable at home. Many tell me how they don’t enjoy or look forward to going home as it is a place of conflict and tension.
There are many reasons for this.
High earner is stressed and projects their anger onto their spouse
Sometimes, the husband or wife is a high earner and is under immense pressure. Their spouse is an easy target and they take their frustrations out on their significant other. This can take the form of verbal criticism, control, and even physical assault.
Of course, projection is very common and an individual doesn’t necessarily need to be a high earner. They could just be inept at regulating their emotions. Picking on their partner or belittling them is a form of emotional abuse. Always mention how it makes you feel to remind your partner that you find it unacceptable.
Manipulation and mind games
When in a relationship, individuals can be very manipulative and abuse their partners emotionally and physically. Some couples face financial strain or trouble in the home with their children. So many reasons can lead to unnecessary conflict at home.
Ongoing stress can result, and what happens behind closed doors often stays there and it is only due to the privilege of my job as a counsellor that I am involved in the messy home life of many people. Homelife is often very different from the image people portray to society. Frighteningly so at times…
The Coronavirus pandemic has placed a huge strain on relationships. Couples are stuck together indoors with little respite. They can’t go down to the pub, see friends or enjoy sports like they used to. All that pent-up frustration has to go somewhere and the spouse, children or pets can often be the target. Being at home can feel like a pressure cooker.
There are ways to reduce conflict at home and here are a few tips to a happier home life:
1) Decide what you will and won’t put up with
Often when we have been living with someone we let these boundaries slide and we end up dealing with abusive behaviour. Remind yourself of the person you used to be. The person that would not have put up with bad treatment from another person. Abusive behaviour can emerge slowly and by the time you become aware of it, it is more difficult to challenge head-on. You owe it to yourself to redress the balance.
2) Communicate regularly
This isn’t as easy as it seems but try to take regular time out to talk to family members. Talk about good things too, and bond in fun ways. Spend quality time together. This acts as the glue that helps to gloss over the bad times and make the bad times more bearable in light of the larger positive context.
3) Have a support network outside the family unit
It is always useful to have an outsider who can offer you an objective viewpoint on what is happening at home for you. At times, we can become brainwashed into believing that what is going on at home is normal and acceptable.
4) Seek counselling if the conflict gets out of hand
Sometimes, we are just unable to remedy the problems ourselves and seeking counselling can be the key that sets you back on the right track. A good counsellor will never focus on blame..they will focus on finding resolution to the problems rather than deciding who is at fault.
5) Time out
Take time for yourself and make sure you still do things for yourself. Being too selfless in the home and putting yourself last will eventually backfire. Be selfish now and then and indulge in activities you enjoy. We are all conditioned to be this ‘perfect family’ and we live with this ideal in the back of our minds. There really is no such thing as the perfect family so stop feeling guilty and look after yourself a little. You will be a better parent/partner for it and the long-term satisfaction will be drawn back into your relationship/family. It is when we deny ourselves that we end up resentful and the goodwill gets eroded bit by bit until there is no positive feeling left.
We often treat the ones we love the worst and take them for granted. Remember that friends and family should be the most important people in your life. Choose people that bring out the best in you and want the best for you. If they criticise you and abuse you in any way on an ongoing basis it might be time to re-assess whether they should still be in your circle of friends/family.