As soon as I opened the first page of ‘The Good Partner’ I couldn’t put it down. Karen Nimmo explores the world of relationships with partners but also with yourself. The Good Partner aids its reader to find their strengths, triggers, reactions and vulnerabilities. All of which have a large impact on your life and choices.
Every new chapter I learnt more about myself and the way I cooperate with others. It truly is eye-opening and a book I have suggested to all my friends whether they are with a partner or not. I asked Karen some burning questions I had after I finished her book. Check them out here!
You write about the 7 pillars of a relationship. For one to be successful do all these pillars need to be perfect or close to it? Can relationships really work if these pillars aren’t taken care of?
The Seven Pillars of Love are Trust, Communication, Conflict Skills, Intimacy, Load-sharing, Play and Kindness.
These pillars are based on the seven core themes (which emerged from talking to hundreds of people over the years) central to all relationships. There’s significant overlap between the pillars but together they form the foundation of a healthy, loving relationship – and offer guidance as to how to be a good partner within one. And we need to stress the goal of being a “good” partner, rather than a perfect one. There’s no such thing as perfect. We’re all on a sliding scale but I like to think we all have room for improvement.
– This book felt like free therapy to me as I work through my own relationships. What inspired you to write this book now?
That’s great if it felt that way ! I wrote the book as Do-It-Yourself therapy for people in relationships but also for those who are single and want to explore who they are (or become) as a partner.
Seeing a psychologist is out of reach for so many people, both in terms of cost and availability. I strongly believe everyone should have access to the tools they need to understand their reactions, vulnerabilities, triggers and strengths. Understanding who you are is the key to improving not just your relationships but your life.
The other reason I wrote the book is that almost every person I work with wants to talk about their relationships in one way or another – whether they’re content, struggling or have been through a messy breakup. That’s because relationships are so central to our happiness and, when they’re not going well, they can make us so miserable. Almost everyone wants close, loving relationships but there’s no class you can take on how to be good at them. Love can be so confusing so it’s worth learning skills and tools to play it as well as you can. This book is my way of helping, it’s full of my very best tools.
– You delve into the types of miscommunications in a relationship. What would you say is the most common communication issue couples face?
Many couples describe a “drift” in their communication – that they’ve lost their connection and they don’t know how to find it again. This is often raised when life is super-busy with work and kids and also when kids leave home and people are forced to face the reality of who they’re with.
But two other key communication problems include not truly listening/not feeling heard and misinterpretation, where people make assumptions or jump too quickly to conclusions. Both of these huge in a world where we spend so much time on our phones. There’s a lot of room to get things wrong.
Other problems frequently raised are fixating on a particular issue, defensiveness (or blaming the other person).
It’s also quite common to get a mismatch in communication styles – so one partner is talkative and expressive with feelings while the other is quieter, avoidant of big issues, or even shut down. Lots of people raise this as a source of conflict.
The good news is that communication between couples can be greatly improved with a few tweaks. And even if your partner isn’t keen, it’s worth taking an honest look at your own communication bias.
The bonus is that the better you understand yourself, the better you’ll to relate to another.
– How can someone broach the topic of sex with their partner when they’re feeling a disconnect?
Ah sex! Sex – discrepancy in sexual desire – always makes the top 10 list of things couples fight about. It may even be in the top 5! The problem is that people think everyone else is having way more sex than they are – and way better, hotter sex. From clinical experience, that’s not the reality. Physical intimacy and sex change with time. Life gets busy and stressed. Desire doesn’t leap easily into bed with habit and repetition. And if everyone understood that, it would save so much trouble.
Sexual problems shouldn’t be tucked under the mattress, so to speak. If they’re not addressed, tension can build. The key things to remember are don’t take the difficulties personally – often it’s about what’s going on for your partner. And secondly, be gentle and reassuring about your love outside sex. There is more than one way to “do” intimacy and understanding that definitely promotes better relationships.
– If someone is recently single, what tips would you give them for rebuilding their confidence so they can start dating again once they’re ready?
This is huge – we do a lot of this in our therapy sessions. A breakup can hurt confidence and people can feel really insecure as they re-enter the dating arena, which can cause them to self-sabotage a potentially good thing.
It’s important to NOT aim to “fix” yourself. Instead aim to learn from where you’ve been and who with. Jump online or read books and educate yourself. When you’ve been with someone for a long time you can lose your sense of self so invest time in reacquainting yourself with what you like to do, what you’re good at and who you are.
The Good Partner by Karen Nimmo (HarperCollins NZ, RRP $37.99)
Written by Sophia Ivory
Curly hair and she don’t care, this stylish babe plays by her own rules. With a love for dance and all things body positive, you’ll usually find her searching out the latest fashion trends and digging through local thrift stores. Word of warning, don’t bring your dachshund around her, she’ll want to keep it.
Check out her Instagram for all things goals! @sophiaivory