Last week, I wrote an article entitled, “Are You Committing These 12 Fatal Relationship Errors?” [EXPERT]. As a counselor educator, I am frequently telling other counselors that “stop doing” plans never work. We can tell people to stop doing something but without developing an alternative behavior, it will be difficult to make it work. People need to know what they are supposed to do instead when they find themselves wanting to engage in the forbidden behavior. So, this week I wanted to write about what to do instead of the 12 Fatal Relationship Errors.
1. If you want to put her in the mood for generous, loving sex, spend some time helping her understand how special and important she is to you. Women have different way of receiving this information (see Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages). Make sure you are speaking her language and she will be putty in your hands.
2. Always be supportive and encouraging when you feel the urge to criticize. Understand that people do what they do because it works for them. If your partner is doing something that doesn’t seem to be working for you, try to find how it could be exactly what you need right now for your own personal growth and development.
3. If your partner is lost and won't ask for directions, make it a game. Have fun with it.
4. No matter how much your partner is exaggerating or has his facts wrong, wait until you are alone to discuss the truth of the situation, if you can’t just let it go. You don't want your partner to lose face with important people in his life.
5. Make a decision to trust your partner. Trust him to do the right thing when you are not with him. If you don’t trust him, then why are with him? Do some self-evaluation and ask yourself what could be going on with you that causes you not to trust?
6. When you and your partner are having a disagreement, keep it to yourself. Telling everyone you know makes it difficult for your family and friends to forgive him, even after you have. If you really need to vent, choose someone who doesn’t know your partner and is unlikely to ever meet him.
7. When your woman is venting about a problem she is experiencing, listen patiently nodding your head, throwing in an occasional, "I'm so sorry that happened." Don’t try to fix it. Women are external processors and need time to talk it out so they can figure it out. She typically will get no benefit from thinking and processing her problems alone.
8. When your man is upset, leave him alone to work it out himself. Most men are internal processors and get no benefit from “talking about it.”
9. Wait for a convenient time to have a “serious talk” with your partner. If it seems like there is never a convenient time, then schedule an appointment. Trying to have a serious discussion, especially about your relationship, deserves its own time without obvious distraction.
10. Tell your partner directly what you want. Ask for what you want. Stop hinting around. He probably won’t get it. Subtle doesn’t work; be direct.
11. When you partner says, “You always do that” or “You never do thus and so,” especially when she is in an emotional mood, needs to be translated to “You do that sometimes or a lot” and “You don’t do that as often as I’d like or as often as you used to.” Try not to get stuck on the absolutes. That’s not literally what she means. It’s just how she is expressing the seriousness of her emotions.
12. Remember why you love this person. Shift your focus from the one or two things that bother you about your partner and instead, focus on all the things you appreciate.
These are a dozen things you can do together to strengthen your relationship. You must ask yourself how important it is that you be “right.” Being right means you have to make the other person wrong. Is that really what you want to do with the person you are intimately involved with?
With Valentine’s Day being Tuesday, is there one of these behaviors you can choose as a gift to your partner? Do it for the day, the week or even better, the whole year. Let me know what happens.