Could hypnotherapy save your relationship?

Her techniques may sound a bit ‘out there’, but hypnotherapist Ailsa Frank swears they have put the spice back in many relationships. Give them a go – this could be your second honeymoon.

Illustration: Luci Gutierrez

As a hypnotherapist, I have helped many clients with all sorts of problems, but one issue crops up time and time again: unhappiness within a relationship. Couples are under more pressure than ever due to busy lives, high expectations, money worries, working long hours and coping with children. Everyone responds differently to those stresses, so something that might be important to one person may not be to their partner, which can lead to them not always understanding each other.

Once your partner has stopped being your friend and making time for you, tries to control you or is spending too much time doing their own thing, the relationship can slip into a downward spiral of upset and blame. This is the point at which clients commonly say, ‘I can’t bear to be around him’, ‘He drives me mad’ or ‘He is totally selfish’.

A bad relationship can be isolating and leave you feeling trapped. I help people to address the problems that have built up by releasing each issue from the subconscious mind. Many of the sources of our angst are stored in the deeper part of the mind, which makes it almost impossible for us to let them go, so people end up arguing repeatedly about the same issues or finding it difficult to forgive someone for a past mistake.

The way we think about things can also be a learned habit. For example, perhaps the reason someone doesn’t pull their weight at home is because they didn’t have to help with household chores when they were growing up. Or, if they often witnessed their parents putting each other down, they might think it’s normal to criticise their partner.

But it is possible to change your behaviour. By addressing the issues outlined here, you can shift the dynamics of your relationship and, as many of my clients report, be happier than ever.

1. Celebrate Each Other’s Differences

Some people are more matter-of-fact in their thinking, some are more emotional and some are more creative. If we all thought the same way, it would be impossible to function as a society. The same goes for a relationship: two people with different strengths make a better team. Be interested in your partner and the people around you and appreciate their special qualities.

TRY writing a list of the positive differences between you, what each of you is good at and what you like doing. It will help you to understand each other better. Then write a list of the household chores that need to be done and divide them equally between you based on which jobs suit you best.

2. Curb Your Criticisms

Lots of relationships are spoiled by repetitive negative behaviour such as constant nagging or criticism. A pattern begins to form so that as soon as one person does or says something, the other responds negatively. But these interactions are learned behaviour that can be changed.

TRY saying something out of context. When niggles arise between you or one is trying to control the other, say something silly such as, ‘Green star, green star, green star.’ Your partner will be so taken aback it will throw them – and it may even make them laugh. ‘Green star’ can be a gentle code warning to back off, so they know that the line of what is acceptable has been crossed. But most importantly, it will change the habits of communication between you.

3. Tap Into Cuddle Power

People are not machines that can be turned on and off. Couples are often distracted by what’s going on around them – by technology, sport, kids, work, family or friends. When that happens, it may be that the only time you pay attention to one another is when one of you wants sex, which is very off-putting. Or maybe you don’t want sex because you are tired or cross with them. Learn to be close without expecting to have sex. Tell your partner, ‘I don’t want sex, I just want a cuddle.’

TRY buying each other a special mug. Choose one that you think your partner will love. Graciously accept whatever mug they buy for you and every time you use it say to yourself, ‘My husband/wife/partner loves me’ and it will remind you how much you care for each other. Show each other kindness and love and you will reap the rewards.

4. Be A Dream-Maker (Not Breaker)

Encourage your partner to fulfil their dreams and ask them to allow you to achieve yours, too. For example, if your partner wants to have an art studio at home, help them to create space so they can paint. Or if they want to go on a hiking holiday, help them to choose the perfect rucksack. When you both feel free, you will both be happy.

TRY saying encouraging things. Tell your partner to, ‘Do what feels right’ and, ‘Give your ideas a go’. When they hear these positive messages, and you hear yourself saying the words, you will both begin to change. Learn to laugh and have fun.

5. Discuss Rather Than Argue

Many irritations in relationships are when one person thinks the other should be doing or seeing things their way, that they are always right. Try turning irritating comments into humour – see the situation as a cartoon so that you can laugh at it. Learn to stand up for yourself by working on the way you approach conversations. For example, say, ‘We are both right and we are both wrong; we see things differently because we are different people.’

TRY shouting at a photograph of your partner so you can get whatever is annoying you off your chest before you speak to them in person. When you do meet, you will be calmer and more rational and you may feel there is no need for a discussion.

6. Learn To Listen

Nobody wants to hear a bad appraisal of themselves at work and this also applies at home. Try to focus on your partner’s strengths and listen to each other. Make a conscious effort to be interested in what they have to say. Look at your partner’s face and enjoy seeing them express themselves.

TRY scheduling regular meetings to discuss the way you are running your lives. Start with some compliments, then make suggestions to each other about how things could be improved. Use words such as ‘perhaps’ and ‘maybe’ so that your partner feels that the suggestions are optional, which might make them more open to making changes. But whatever happens in the meeting should remain in the meeting, rather than allowing the emotions to be carried with you into your everyday life.

7. Call Time On The Put-Downs

You wouldn’t tell your neighbour how to cut their grass, so don’t tell your partner what to do or how to live their life. Let them and other family members be themselves in your company. Speak to them in the same way that you would speak to a neighbour or friend. Remember, you don’t own anyone.

TRY treating your partner as you would a flatmate. Be free individuals who don’t try to control each other and do your share of the chores. Just think, if you were sharing with friends and you didn’t pull your weight they wouldn’t put up with it and would move out or ask you to leave.

8. Ditch The Ideal And Love What’s Real

Don’t set up your partner to fail by having too-high expectations of them and how they should behave towards you. Be relaxed about presents. If there’s something you want or need, buy it for yourself instead of expecting someone else to read your mind. This way you will be happy. If you have been disappointed in the past, don’t keep putting yourself in situations in which others can disappoint you. If you want a birthday party, organise it yourself: only you know what you really want. Take control of your own happiness.

TRY visualising disappointing past events as old photographs; file them into albums and put them away so that you can move on. You can choose to forgive your partner, and yourself, for whatever has happened in your past. You don’t need approval from anyone but yourself. Then, once you have filed the old photographs, visualise a new album being filled with pictures of your future happy life together.

For information about Ailsa’s hypnotherapy services and hypnosis downloads, visit ailsafrank.com. Her book ‘Cut the Crap and Feel Amazing’ is published by Hay House, price £10.99