7 Simple Steps to Improve Your Relationship
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There is a right way and a wrong way to communicate. The right way is asking your partner a relevant question, listening to their response, then offering your opinion. The wrong way is overwhelming your partner with your irritations and worries as soon as they walk in from a particularly long workday.
Practice effective speech by engaging your loved one in a conversation of their interest. Ask questions that matter to them; people open up when you inquire about their day, an important project, their feelings, etc. Once you've listened to what they have to say, offer your side of the story. Stay away from heavy conversations in stressful times, and especially in the heat of emotion. Calm down, then approach the topic again.
Don't just sound off with your concerns; delve to the core of the matter by drawing your partner into the dialogue first.
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Do something special together. Perhaps you two have a favorite restaurant you haven't visited in ages, or you can return to the place where you first fell in love?
Being in a physical space where you have powerful memories of strong attachment can reignite passion. Or, you can try something you've never tried before. The excitement of something new produces serotonin and dopamine in our brains. It doesn't have to be something extraordinary; even sitting on a park bench watching the children play as you hold hands can be magical if love exists. The important thing is that you stop talking about taking that vacation, or trying that new spot, and follow through on your intention to reconnect together.
Cut out external influences. Often it is outside voices that seep into our private relationships and brew toxicity. Understand who's playing a less-than-positive role in your relationship and commit to keeping that person's energy out! Keep your relationship as private as possible and divulge as little details as you can. Don't automatically admit your love woes to others. Chances are they don't hold the answers to your problems. Open up the gateways of communication instead and confess your concerns to your partner.
To forgive is to detach -- from the bitterness, anger, and animosity holding you back from progress with your partner. Forgo the negative emotions keeping you from true forgiveness. Be mindful that forgiveness is a process, not a result, so perform small, daily acts that are reflective of your intent to pardon. Come clean about one thing. We all hold a few secrets that would deeply hurt others if they found out.
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Certain things should simply be kept to ourselves. But honesty can trigger wonders in your partner's opinion of you.
Admitting one secret or mistake to your partner may make them want to open up, too. Set boundaries with each other. And keep your word! If you set a rule for your partner, set a similar one for yourself as well. This means that if your partner promises not to stay out late on a Saturday, you should abide by the same principle.
A relationship is a two-way street. Tell your partner honestly what you would like them to do or not dothen be prepared to accept the boundaries they set for you, too.
Maintaining a relationship within comfortable bounds avoids arguments, explosions, and setbacks. It aids mutual growth if both partners are respectful toward the other's wishes. It also promotes a sense of security and trust that each is acting in good faith.
When your communication is speeding up, you can miss a lot of important information that your partner is expressing. This fast pace also increases the volatility of your discussion, making it harder for you to keep the conversation calm. If you notice that your discussion is moving too quickly, intentionally put on the brakes and slow down the exchange. Make sure your partner knows you truly want to understand what he or she is saying. This helps defuse the reactivity and allows you to continue to communicate in an adult-to-adult way.
This can be disarming in a positive way, and it immediately helps de-escalate the rising tension between you. By being curious, you can learn new things about your partner, as well as support your conversation in moving toward a resolution.
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Practice this next time you feel a heated discussion coming on and see what happens. Recognize your emotional triggers and learn to self-soothe. When you know what your emotional triggers are, it allows you to be aware when the potential for their activation is present.
Practice observing yourself, even when you feel triggered by your partner. This understanding can help both of you be less reactive in the moment. Practice using empathy to foster a closer connection. Empathy is the fuel of good relationships. When you can respond empathically to your partner, it facilitates a deeper bond and creates a strong sense of safety and trust between you.
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It does require you to be able to step outside yourself and begin to appreciate a reality different from yours. Practicing empathy does not mean that you have to completely surrender and give up what you want or give up your own reality.
It just means you need to suspend your own perspective, even momentarily, so you can appreciate the smallest part of how your partner sees things. Your partner will feel the shift and will be able to let down his or her guard a little, opening up the possibility of a better connection.
Listen for the hidden unmet need or emotion.
The challenge for you is to go underneath the overt complaint and see if you can tap into the hidden emotion. By uncovering this emotion and tentatively asking if the covert emotion is also going on for your partner, you can bypass the surface anger, irritation or resentment and cut to the core emotion that needs to be validated.
When you find yourself in a conflict situation, pause for a moment and see if you can feel what else in the conversation your partner is not expressing.