First, a bit of self assessment. Consider these questions about your relationship:
Do you feel good when you think about your partner?
Do you resolve conflicts with respect and without hurting each other?
Is your communication clear and understood?
Do you apologize when you know you need to.
Do you put your partner first above all. Yes, even your kids!
How did you do? How many yes's did you have? That last one is a biggie! When meeting with couples, I know there is trouble brewing (and I see it often) if one or both partners feel second to anything in their relationship.
Let's move on. You want to feel needed and important, yes? Of course you do, we all do. Your partner does too. In fact, one of the most simple yet most powerful gifts you can give your partner is your presence. And I don't mean just physically present. Have you ever felt alone even when you are together?
Here's some tips:
1. Acknowledge often. It's easy to remember to acknowledge your partner and their feelings when your happy, but we tend to forget this vital communication when we disagree. When you disagree say this first: "Oh, yes, I can see your point, I'll consider that." And make sure you really do! Also, acknowledge your partner for the little things. It's the little things that we take for granted, but if appreciated you will see they are really the big things: "You know, I really appreciate all the things you do for me." Use examples that fit your life.
2. Be physically and emotionally present. This is another big one! If your partner is talking to you, put the phone down, make eye contact, and do not walk away while they are trying to tell you something. Really, wouldn't you think that was rude if a stranger did that to you?
3. Respect and accept your partners beliefs. Just because you don't agree, don't make your significant other feel wrong for their truths. The exercise coming up will help with this.
Seeing your partners point of view is not just good practice, but in my opinion absolutely necessary if you want your relationship to thrive. Below is a great exercise. Writing especially important at first because writing will condition a new habit of thinking in you. Eventually, you will think like this naturally:
Write a short paragraph about a disagreement you had with your partner. Write it first from your perspective. Now, here's the hard part that will get easy with practice, look through their eyes and write their version. See it as they do, be their voice.When we do this we can gain clarity and understanding that we might not have had before. With that we might get somewhere. Next, ask your partner to tell you their perspective and really listen.
How did it go?
I know that sometimes there are built up resentments so thick and high that they block you from wanting to try. But, think for a moment about what is on the other side of that big mountain of fear and resentment. Is it the partner you long for? The one you love and remember before the mountain was there? Is it the new partner waiting for you?
Believe me when I tell you that if you focus on only your part, the only part you really can control, with patience and consistency, you will see some amazing changes. To make it super easy to bust down those blocks just practice treating your partner like you would your friends, neighbors or strangers, JUST BECAUSE THAT'S WHO YOU ARE: a kind, thoughtful considerate person. That's not so hard now right?
Happy Valentines EVERY Day!
Please feel free to contact me.
Peg Haust-Arliss, LCSW-R Holistic Psychotherapist, Anxiety Specialist and Strategic Results Coach
Go from Fear to Freedom with my Free Anxiety Toolkit! PegHaust.com