For the past three decades I’ve been meeting with men and women struggling with their relationships, and while time marches on the issues remain the same. I see patterns, pain, but most of all I see solutions. Even when your situation may seem bleak, there are always ways to handle relationships so that they’re more likely to feel good rather than depleting and confusing.
There have been many times when I’ve been sitting in my office with a couple and a comment will be made that will set off alarm bells for me. I hear that old familiar voice in my head (and heart) that comes to a screeching halt and says, “Ouch!” I can see that the words that were meant to stimulate discussion have either cut things off or have wounded feelings.
The good news is that I’ve worked with many couples who have learned the top 5 therapist’s secrets to “non-ouch” fights and healthier relationships. Take these to heart if you want to start repairing the damage that’s been done and work on creating a happier future together.
1. THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK.
Pretend that what you say is going to be made very, very public. I’ve seen countless couples say the wrong thing at the wrong time because they didn’t take a minute to pause. This rule seems very simple, but it’s not. It’s very hard but will reap major benefits. I promise.
2. DO NOT CROSS BOUNDARIES.
In other words, don’t speak the unspeakable. If something was told to you that is very private and personal, do NOT under any circumstances use that against your partner… EVER. PERIOD.
3. LISTEN VERY HARD TO WHAT YOUR PARTNER IS SAYING.
When I say listen, I mean do just that and ONLY that. Don’t think about your response while your partner is spilling his/her guts. You might just learn/hear something very relevant.
4. LEARN TO LET THINGS GO.
There is nothing inherently virtuous about holding grudges. You will earn tons of emotional points for letting things go. Try it. You will thank me.
5. LEARN HOW TO MAKE YOUR PARTNER LAUGH.
Sometimes a moment of levity can not only relieve pain but can be oh-so connecting. And it’s connection that we want and need, right?