Focus on Dialogue, Avoid Gridlock
Every relationship and every person has their own threshold of tolerance for negativity, at which point they will begin repair attempts to find solutions. There is also a point at which their repair attempts are effective in producing change. Being able to avoiding gridlock and regulate conflicts is so important to long lasting relationships. To keep things happy and avoid gridlock with your loved one, start by turning toward yourself and your partner in mind, body, and spirit instead of turning away! Here is an idea, instead of turning your back to your significant other in bed, try turning towards them or snuggling. Try a softened start up to discussions or sensitive topics as opposed to harsh ones. For instance, instead of saying, “You are never around!” You might say, “I am really missing you lately. When can we spend some time together?” Commit to taking blaming out of complaining, and try to listen. Describe what is happening and don’t judge. Talk clearly about what you need. If you can’t help complaining, practice saying something positive first, so your partner doesn’t shut down. For instance, instead of saying, “You are never affectionate when we watch TV,” say, “I liked when you snuggled with me during the movie that time, I wish you would do that more often.”
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Explore Life Maps
Sure maybe you’ve been dating for awhile or even married, but how well do you really know your lover? Can you name your partner’s two best friends? Hobbies? Favorite movies? Do you know what makes him most happy, sad, angry, scared, frustrated, or content? Can you name his best and worst childhood experience? What are some stressors he is currently facing? Do you know what turns your partner on sexually or his favorite time for making love? Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you are not newly dating anymore that the discovery ends. Commit to igniting curiosity! Instead of assuming you know everything there is to know about your partner, use the skill of curiosity to ask questions and understand the full extent of your partner's thoughts, feelings, needs, and dreams!
Meshing Life Rituals and Roles
In a healthy relationship there are two “Is” but there are is also a “We”. It is important to mesh life dreams and connect rituals and roles. Optimally functioning relationships have individuals who are emotionally engaged, as opposed to leading parallel and lonely lives. Partners in happier relationships do not tend to deny themselves or their partner of their dreams, so as to remain undeveloped as individuals. Rather they honor one another’s life dreams and aspirations, and provide support and tolerance, or actually share in these dreams more fully. If you don’t know what your partner’s dreams and aspirations are, maybe it’s time to get curious and talk about it!
Communication is Key
Ultimately, there is one word that connects all the essential ingredients of happy and healthy relationships, and that is communication. Communication not only has to do with your internal communication with your Self, but also with your lover. As the saying goes, “It takes two to tango!” Remember that even when you are not communicating, you are communicating something. You cannot not communicate. Everything you do or don’t do in a relationship sends a message! So why not first establish a relationship with your Self to figure out what you are feeling, thinking, experiencing, dreaming, and needing for you? A healthy relationship starts with you. In being the mindful of you, you have the best chance of turning negatives in a relationship into positives and making love last!
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Dr. Lisa C. Palmer, PhD, LMFT, CHT is a licensed marriage and family therapist; certified in hypnotherapy; and trained in mediation. She is best-known for her work helping individuals rapidly reduce their symptoms from eating disorders, trauma, addiction, and relationship concerns, and transform their lives. Dr. Palmer also does peak performance coaching for athletes and performers. She is the Director of Programs at The Renew Center of Florida in Boca Raton, Florida, and is a regular contributing expert for television and media. www.TheRenewCenter.com and www.AskDrPalmer.com