As humans we are social beings and have an inherent desire to be close to people. The relationships we form are vital to our mental, emotional and even our physical well being and really, our survival. Healthy relationships, be it familial relationships, friendships, romantic relationships, all count! To understand relationships better, wellness coach and process counsellor, Joan Pinto, was invited on The Navhind Times, Talk from the Heart show which aired live on Sunday, December 13, on the Goa 365 channel.

Pinto who has more than 20 years in this field, began the talk by explaining what process counselling involves. “Process work is a discipline like psychotherapy but the difference is, it is more educative and works on prevention rather than just solving the problem,” she said. She further explained that the discipline involves teaching the individual skills to handle various situations and added, “The focus is to get out of the head and concentrate on the heart. Separation from one’s actions, thoughts and feelings and observing one’s self in a situation is what it is about.

Every situation is different and so is every relationship. Since relationships involve people, there is always a degree of complexity. Even the simplest relationship sometimes is not very simple. To build closer and stronger bonds it is therefore imperative that we understand the nuances of the different relationships we have. One such and often a volatile relationship is between couples or partners. However the first relationship that one has to work on, said Pinto is with one’s self. “Understanding our own self, our thoughts, our feelings is the first step in becoming aware and this awareness can lead to many positive changes. Firstly we stop labelling our self negatively and secondly we tend to become more empathetic towards others thus leading to better relationships.”

Speaking about marriages and the way they have evolved in the 21st century, Pinto said, “Women today know what they want and are much more empowered than ever before. Since they are working and earning, they are financially and even psychologically more stable. However the stress levels are much higher.” The reason for this she said was due to the fact that women not only have to manage their careers but also the home front. “The pressure on them is constant and the way they are wired, they want to do everything. Where men know how to relax and take it easy, women still find it hard to do so after returning home after a hard day’s work.” Advising women especially working women to relax and take breathers, she said, “It is important that you learn to relax and understand that by doing so, you are energising yourself. When you are tired and start doing the chores around the house, you tend to get angry and this gives rise to a lot of negativity.”

While conflicts and disagreements are a part of every relationship, when it comes to marriage, Pinto advised that it is important to see that is does not get out of hand and poison the relationship with the spouse or partner. “Criticisms and ups and downs are always going to be there but if the ratio of appreciation, kindness, understanding, honesty, trust and sensitivity is higher then marriages tend to hold on longer.” She further elaborated how negative behaviour between couples and partners spreads to the children and other members in the home.Breaking harmful behaviour patterns and redefining one’s concept of marriage is vital to make the relationship work, she said.

Asked what a woman in an abusive relationship/marriage should do, she answered emphatically, “The woman should take some action. Many times women brush it under the carpet thinking it is just a phase or it happens in marriages but if the situation gets serious, action is imperative. Blaming oneself does not help. Instead seek counselling or other ways to rectify the situation. Also remember you are someone to be cared for and loved not beaten or abused. Do not put yourself down or think you are not worth it.” Self love and self awareness, she stressed are important for any relationship to work.

Many other topics were discussed and suggestions were shared by Pinto on how to enhance a marriage and make it last.