Relationships are not always easy and sometimes it is good to take some time to consider ways of developing them. If you are looking for ways to improve your relationship then perhaps the suggestions below might be of some help.
1. Try to see your relationship as something that you both need to invest in, in order to make it work. As individuals ask yourselves each day… What have I done today to ensure the quality of OUR relationship? Ask yourselves as a couple… How are WE maintaining OUR relationship?
2. Work from a place of dialogue rather than monologue. Try to work from a place of mutuality and non-defensiveness, a place of discussion and negotiation.
3. Own your feelings rather than pointing the finger– say, “I feel” rather than “You do! “. For example, “I feel upset when the lounge is left in a mess, rather than, “we would be fine if you didn’t leave the lounge in a mess! ”
4. Listen, and try to see the other person’s point of view. You may disagree with them but try to understand why they might feel the way they do – Empathise.
5. Turn potential conflicts into inquiries. Ask yourselves why is this happening in OUR relationship and what can WE do about it? How can WE fix this?
6. Turn your demands into requests, they will be received and acted upon much more readily than if they are perceived as a threat. For instance, “I was wondering if you could take the kids swimming this week? Is that something you could fit in? It would feel as though you really cared about me if you did and I would really benefit from the time off”, rather than. “If you don’t take the kids swimming this week and I have to do it again I’m going to… ! ”
7. Do go to sleep on an argument or at least agree to disagree and resume negotiations the following day – often the next day brings fresh vision a change of attitude and forgiveness.
8. Allocate time for disagreements and negotiation, maybe ten minutes to an hour depending on the topic. Check in with your partner and ask them if they are ready for a discussion. If they are not ready to talk, leave them until they are. When you are both ready to start negotiations do so and if issues are not resolved within the allocated time end them until another meeting can be arranged for the following day.
9. Make specific time each day to tell your partner what you have appreciated about them that day or what you appreciate about them generally.
10. Make your expectations explicit, never assume. Never surmise that the other person ‘should know’ your wishes, often they don’t.
11. Take turns in telling your partner what makes you feel closer to them and what makes you feel distant. Discuss this together and try to work out how to increase your closeness and decrease your distance.
12. Concentrate on the things you share rather than the differences you have and work to develop them.
13. Make time for quality in your relationship. Deliberately set aside time for your relationship health – find something you both enjoy together and do it at least once a week.
14. Try to accept and love your partner as they actually are, rather than how they ‘should be’.
15. Try to solve the minor disputes as they arise rather than allowing them to mount up into a single devastating explosion!
16. Actively make a choice to cherish your relationship.
If you can start to integrate the above into your relationship on a daily basis you will find that communication will improve. The approaches may seem a little clumsy at first but with practice they will become natural and pay dividend’s that can help you manage your relationship better.
Image © Wes Peck