Clinical psychologist Dr Yuliya Richard believes Valentine’s Day tomorrow (Sunday 14 February) is a perfect opportunity for couples struggling in their relationships to take action.
While it is celebrated as a day of proposals and romance, Dr Richard says this is not the reality for many couples.
She aims to help them bring back trust and repair relationships, particularly those damaged by impulsive behaviours of one or both partners.
Impulsivity can contribute to a number of issues, including anger, unhealthy drinking or eating, infidelity or porn addiction.
“It’s very easy when we’re in a relationship that has been damaged to try and keep going without resolving anything,” Dr Richard says.
“For a long lasting, healthy relationship, issues need to be resolved, things need to be repaired and control needs to be regained.”
Dr Richard, who completed three years of research while gaining her doctorate at the University of Newcastle, adds the first step in rekindling love and trust is to understand and take ownership for any impulsivity.
Skills to manage conflict and communicate better are also important.
“It is important for the people to think about the price of their behaviour – to themselves, their partner, and the relationship,” she explains.
“Work out the thoughts, feelings, and actions that feed your impulsive urges and the different ways you can think, cope and react.”
“Both people in the relationship need to manage expectations and support the other for lasting behaviour change. They need to believe that change is necessary, possible and worth it.”
“Don’t cancel love this year – do something positive to fight for it.”
Dr Richard says that, when people who tend to have positive or negative urgency to behave emotionally, or are sensation seeking, or have difficult tolerating frustration and boredom or have trouble planning, they are at risk of behaviours that can place strain on relationships.
“Impulsivity helps us to feel adventurous, excited and spontaneous but sometimes it can be like a bad friend whom you utterly trust,” she says.
“Once impulsiveness turns into a bad habit it can be hard to change without help and tools.
“It can become reinforcing because impulsivity can stop you from seeking help, particularly if progress is not immediate.
“That’s why developing awareness of impulsivity and ways to manage it is so important.”