I am by no means an expert on relationships. But I will say, I have been in therapy numerous times for various different things — a failed relationship, an emotional breakdown or just for career help to get me back on track. It seems that in relationships, unless you’ve really ironed out your stuff, they will pop up no matter who you are with. So best thing, in my opinion, is getting it out in the open and figuring it out. Lately, my fiance and I have been going sort of as a pre-marital counseling type of thing, and there are definitely some things that have been helping us that could help you too. In fact, some of these have really changed our relationship, we are bickering less and working as a team more, and we are able to resolve conflict way better than before. I had to share…
Say Five Nice Things
When the counselor said “Ok, your homework is to say five nice things to each other,” I chimed in “Five things a week??” No, “five times a DAY!” she said. Wow. Five nice things in one day- that seems like a lot. Some examples: You’re a great mom, you work really hard, you’re pretty –whatever. Though at first we laughed, we have put them into practice, and it’s almost become somewhat of a competition. The other day, my fiance sent me a text saying “Hey, you’re a great writer, mom, you’ve got a great bod, you work really hard, you’re a wonderful athlete and I love you.” He definitely got me smiling — then two seconds later, “I’m at 6 compliments, and you’re only at 1”. It became a funny sport where we are trying to keep up with each other. It’s lightened things up a lot…
Set the Timer
“Use a cooking timer,” said the therapist, “that way you cannot interrupt one another.” Here’s how it works: Set the timer for two minutes in which one person speaks from their experience and the other person just listens. They cannot interrupt or judge. The person that is speaking cannot talk about the other person, only about themselves, for example: “I feel like I really tried to make dinners this week and take care of you and I’m doing my best but I still feel very unappreciated,” and so forth. Then, the other person speaks for two minutes without interruption. The point is that you both can hear the other person’s experience before just thinking you are always right.
No Slamming Doors
Do you do this even when you’re not really having a fight but when you’re frustrated? It’s off-limits. Anything loud like slamming doors, punching the wall is off limits. Instead, go take a walk, take a break, try your hardest to not show your frustration so much. It helps create a more peaceful home and is especially important when you have children. We aren’t the “loud” types, but I have occasionally been so frustrated that I’ve walked away and closed the door probably more loudly than I should. Ok, no slamming doors. Done.
No Name Calling
This is obvious — but it’s amazing, and embarrassing, that both of us have been guilty in the past of calling each other something ridiculously mean. These things bruise and those leave scars. Name calling is totally unacceptable according to the therapist –not even when you’re being funny: “You’re such a D#$K” even with a laugh is a no-no. Be nice to your partner…
At the end of each day, instead of zoning out, chit-chat. Ask about the other person’s day, see how they are doing and what’s up. Talk about the weekend, make plans to do something. So often we get home from work and just want to zone out and not talk — but it actually breaks the stress to talk to your partner. We actually always sat on the couch and had dinner in front of the television, now we make it a point to eat at the table and chat. It helps bring us closer. Trust me, it was REALLY hard for my guy to do — especially during playoffs or if a game is on, but if you make a rule to do it twice a week, it’s manageable.
From a friend to a friend, it can’t hurt to try any of these things. Even though they may seem silly at first, they actually really work.