Relationship Tips Part IV:
Maintaining a relationship requires ongoing work and has little place for complacency. In this series of tips, learn about expressing yourself appropriately, relational time management, and healthy ways to deal with conflict.
Tip #1: Strength or a Weakness?
Some people see expressing their feelings as a sign of weakness. This makes sense as society “allows” the expression of anger, frustration, etc., but what about sadness?? Guilt?? Shame?? Disappointment?? Many people have difficulty admitting to their partner when these feelings overcome them, resulting in showing some form of anger and blame instead.
Let’s take a different look at this. Who is really the stronger person: A) one who must use anger to express themselves because they are unable to recognize and/or accept their deeper feelings? or B) the person who has the capacity to recognize their feelings and express them in a way that their partner can acknowledge and respond to those feelings?
So, regardless of what “society” claims, expressing our deeper feelings to our partner demonstrates strength, not weakness at all.
Tip #2: Make Time!!!
How often do you say, “There’s never enough time in the day”? You’re right… You can’t control how many hours there are during the day. But you can control what you do with those hours. If you and your partner aren’t using some of those hours to reconnect with each other, then how can you keep your relationship going strong? Work, laundry, the children….these responsibilities will be there regardless.
If you don’t add your relationship to this mix, you could end up waking up one day, look at your partner and say, “Who are you?”
Children will grow up, jobs will change and the laundry will always be there. Start tending to your relationship the same way you would tend to all your other responsibilities, otherwise your relationship may not be there the way you expect.
Tip #3: Walk Away!
This is a different type of tip in that while you want to engage with your partner and resolve conflict, sometimes you may have to walk away from the conflict…especially if you or your partner becomes verbally or physically abusive. You have the right to walk away. If you have asked your partner to lower their tone of voice, not to throw around obscenities and/or to take a time out and they refuse to, you have the right to excuse yourself from the situation. Setting such a boundary tells your partner that this type of interaction is not appropriate and you won’t accept such attacks. Maintaining your boundaries sends the message that your partner’s actions need to change if resolution is going to occur.
Stick to your guns and draw a line for yourself as to what you’re willing to tolerate!
Tip #4: Take Responsibility!!!
Are you gridlocked in conflict? Are you quick to blame? Maybe it’s time to take a look at your own actions, words and reactions and see how you might be contributing to the gridlock. If you are consistently blaming your partner, then there is a good chance that you are contributing to the problem more than you first thought.
This isn’t to say that your partner is to be absolved of any responsibility, but it takes 2 to make a conflict; therefore 2 need to take responsibility…
Tip #5: Take Notice…
How often do you compliment your partner? Do you notice what they are wearing? Do you thank them for helping around the house or taking the kids to school? While these are the little things you hope your partner will automatically jump in and do, showing a little bit of appreciation can go a long way. Appreciating your partner helps add to the positive connection you may be seeking and provides incentive for your partner to continue providing support.