By Kristen Boice
When couples are in crisis or having issues, often they feel ashamed, so they don’t talk to anyone about it. Couples often feel lost and alone and don’t know how to make the relationship work. Below are some steps to take in order to improve your relationships.
1. Work on yourself. Make a list of how you have contributed to the issues in the relationship and what you are going to do to make some changes. You can’t change someone else. However, you can work on yourself and try to gain some peace and insight into why you have certain triggers or react the way you do. If one person changes, it will change the dynamic of the relationship. It goes back to the saying, “Accept what you cannot change and change what you cannot accept.”
2. Use “I” statements to communicate. Notice how you communicate to your partner. It’s important you are tapping into how you feel. A good format to use is “I feel ____ when you ____ because I need___.” Many people think they are communicating a feeling when they are actually communicating a thought or simply making a statement. Research shows intimacy comes from an emotional connection. Starting a sentence off by saying, “You always or never …” will instantly stop any effective communication. It is more helpful to come back when you have calmed down and are able to talk rationally about the issue.
3. Listen and try to understand your partner’s perspective. Are you truly listening, or are you developing your argument of why you are right and he or she is wrong? When you can shift from trying to be right to trying to truly understand, it can shift the relationship. Everyone wants to feel heard, validated and understood. This is a key element in a relationship.
4. Work on your expectations. You and your partner make a list of 10 things you like your partner to do for you. “I like it when you vacuum, hold my hand, text me during the day, tell me you love me …” These are small items your partner does that help you to feel loved. Exchange your lists and do something from each other’s lists a few times a week. Keep your partner’s list so you can do something from his or her list. This can literally change the relationship instantly because you are helping them to feel loved.
Using these steps in your relationship can create intimacy and foster connection.