“MAFS” 2024: Why You Should Never Tell Your Partner to “Relax”, According to a Psychologist


Alright, let’s get real about relationships. We’ve all been there emotions running high, terse words exchanged, and then, like a well-intentioned but misguided superhero, someone drops the classic line: “You need to relax.” Spoiler alert: it rarely ends well. The 2024 season premiere of “MAFS“, during Sara and Tim’s Fijian honeymoon brought this phrase into the spotlight, showcasing just how explosive those four words can be.

Picture this: tequila shots and romantic dinner vibes promising a romantic evening. Just when things seem like they’re heading for fairy-tale territory, the plot takes an unexpected turn. Tim, in the midst of a seemingly amicable conversation, hits the brakes on his thoughts. Urged by Sara to share what’s on his mind, he hesitates before saying those four dreaded words.

Sara, not one to take such advice lightly, retorts with a cringe-worthy truth: “Have you ever dealt with women before? They don’t like to be told to relax.”

As the tension escalates and the couple goes back and forth, the scene leaves us on the edge of our seats — will they make it through this speedbump on the road to love?

To delve into the intricacies of why advising your partner to “relax” is a risky move, we turn to We Lysn Psychologist Nancy Sokarno, whose insights provide a credible guide through the pitfalls of communication in relationships.

Here’s what We Lysn Psychologist Nancy Sokarno had to say.

Why You Should Never Tell Your Partner to “Relax”

Have you ever wondered why telling your partner to relax seems to make everything 10 times worse? Well, it’s because in tense or stressful situation, telling someone to relax can convey a dismissive attitude, invalidating their emotions and concerns. It sends a message that their feelings are not important or valid, which can lead to frustration and resentment.

Why It Never Works

The command to “relax” in a stressful situation often has the opposite effect on someone, causing them to feel more tense or anxious. This is due to a number of reasons. Firstly, they’re being told what to do, secondly, it implies that their feelings aren’t valid (which also often displays a lack of empathy from the other person), and lastly, it really doesn’t provide a constructive solution to the tension. Instead, it can create a sense of pressure to suppress or control emotions, making it harder for someone to calm down.

What to Say Instead 

Instead of saying “relax”, there are some recommended approaches you can use instead:

Validate Their Feelings

Start by acknowledging their emotions. You might say, “I can see that this situation is really bothering you, and you have every right to feel this way.”

Express Empathy

Try to demonstrate understanding by showing that you care about their wellbeing. For example, “I can imagine this is really difficult for you, and I’m here to support you.”

Encourage Open Communication

If you can, try to encourage them to talk about what’s on their mind. Open-ended questions can be helpful in this scenario, such as, “Can you explain to me more that and how it makes you feel?”

Offer Help

If it feels appropriate, ask if there’s anything you can do to help or if you can point them in the direction of specific support. Offering concrete guidance shows that you’re engaged and willing to be supportive.

“MAFS” airs Sunday at 7.00pm and Monday Wednesday at 7.30pm on Channel 9 and 9Now.

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