If you are concerned about your girlfriend but not aware of any reason that she should be upset, the only way to get to the bottom of it is to ask her outright if she's OK. This may be easier said than done. You may not want to approach the subject out of fear that she will tell you she's unhappy in the relationship. Putting it off, however, won't resolve anything. It is far better to confront issues head on and take the necessary steps to work things out.
Set the scene. It is important to give thought to where and when to ask your girlfriend if everything is OK. Choose a time when she's happy and relaxed, if possible. Make sure you can have a productive conversation and that you won't be disturbed. There is no point trying to have a serious conversation if you can't both focus on it, according to Charles Schmitz, dean emeritus and professor emeritus of counseling and family therapy at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and his wife, Elizabeth Schmitz, who holds a doctorate in education. Turn off the television, switch off your cell phones and sit down together. The more comfortable you both are, the more you will get out of the discussion.
Explain why you want to talk to your girlfriend before you start quizzing her. Tell her why you have concerns about her well-being or about the state of your relationship. Use "I" phrases rather than "you" to avoid giving the impression that you are blaming her. "I have been really worried about you recently and want to know what I can do to help," is much more effective than, "You're really touchy and grouchy at the moment. What on earth is wrong with you?" If she gets defensive at the start of the conversation, you are unlikely to achieve anything.
Listen to what your girlfriend says. This is the most important part of the entire process. Don't interrupt her, be it to ask a question, defend yourself or disagree with something she says, advises therapist Isadora Alman. Wait until she has finished speaking to take your turn. Be prepared to hear something you don't like. She may say she has doubts about your relationship. If this is the case, decide how to move forward from this point. Have an honest conversation about what you both want from the relationship and how it can be improved. Couples counseling may help you work through difficult issues.
C. Giles is a writer with an MA (Hons) in English literature and a post-graduate diploma in law. Her work has been published in several publications, both online and offline, including "The Herald," "The Big Issue" and "Daily Record."
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