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A podcast series designed to help you argue better, plus articles and videos to support you along the way

Penny Mansfield

Co-director at OnePlusOne

Mariella Frostrup

Journalist and broadcaster

Kate Landells

Family Law Partner at Withersworldwide

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Articles and videos to help you

How to take arguments from bad to better

This video shows a situation going badly between two parents, and how their children, Emily and Jordan, are put in the middle:

Now let's look at what's happening:

  • Judge. When you criticise or blame your ex in front of your children, they may feel confused. Children cannot be expected to judge who is right and who is wrong – they don’t like having to choose and shouldn’t have to stick up for either of you.
  • Messenger. Parents often use their children to pass on information about money or arrangements. Being a messenger between parents can make children feel caught in the middle.
  • Witness. Seeing or hearing conflict between parents is very stressful for children. They may worry that if you can stop loving each other, you might stop loving them too.    
  • Reward and punishment. Spending time with either parent should never be treated as a reward or punishment. As long it’s safe, children do better when they continue to have a relationship with both parents.

The second version of the clip shows how the conversation goes better when Emily and Jordan’s parents stick to the rules. Being clear helps them have a better conversation.

When you need to talk something out with your child’s other parent, it can be helpful to:

  • Stay calm.
  • Be civil.
  • Keep things simple.
  • Focus on the most important point.

If you need to express a difficult feeling, it can be helpful to phrase it in the form of an ‘I’ statement: “I feel_________ when you _________ because _________.”

Working together through stress

When you or partner are stressed, try not to think of it as MY STRESS or YOUR STRESS. Instead, think of it as OUR STRESS – something for you to deal with together.

This video shows why it’s best to work together as a couple, even when only one of you is going through a hard time. 

How to offer emotional support

1) Emotional support: This is when you show that you have understood.

2) Practical support: This is when you offer ways of solving the problem.

Emotional support is important because it shows your partner that you are there for them. Usually it’s better just to listen first without offering advice.

  • Listen to your partner’s feelings.
  • Show that you understand.
  • Give them a confidence boost: “You can do it!”
  • Stick together.
  • Reassure them.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t offer practical support at all, but you should try to offer emotional support first.

The video shows you how this works. In the first version of the story, Liam only offers practical support.

In the second version, we rewind, and Liam offers emotional support first. Notice the difference in the way Naomi reacts.

Relationships change over time

This video shows how relationships can change over time, and the challenges you might face at each stage of the journey. 

Relationships are complicated things, and they are different for every couple. As your relationship develops, you may move up and down through the different stages, facing growth, crises, and setbacks together. Not every relationship survives these changes but, if you can learn to accept each other completely – warts and all – you can reach a place of mutual love and respect.

Roller coaster of change

Life has its ups and downs, and so do relationships. Bumps in the road can be risky times for relationships but, if you can learn how to prepare, you can get through them. With practice, you can even use these experiences to strengthen your relationship.

More about OnePlusOne and Withersworldwide

The Withersworldwide family law team have produced a podcast series with broadcaster Mariella Frostrup. Guests include family lawyers from the firm, clients and independent professionals including OnePlusOne, who discuss family life, love and law. The six-part series will be busting myths, revealing risks, answering the worrying questions about kids, your rights if you are cohabiting, civil partnerships and exploring how you can argue constructively.

The firm advises individuals and businesses with complex legal needs, in good times and bad. Find out more about Withersworldwide and visit the #ModernRelationships campaign.

At OnePlusOne, we help people get on. When people get on with others, they get on in life.  We focus on the way people interact with one another – what makes a relationship work, and what leads to ruptures, conflict and breakdown. 

With this knowledge, we turn complex ideas into straight forward interventions, creating targeted content that people can understand and implement in their own lives.