It is surprising how a couple can go from a loving, respectful, deep connection with their partner to living like two strangers in the same house. Is this what has happened in your relationship? Do you want to have a deeper connection with your partner? If you missed Part 1 of the series, you can find it here! If not, read the tips below to continue your journey…
Prioritize an End of Day Conversation
After a long day away from each other, make an effort to reconnect. Of course, life gets busy and people travel, making it impossible to always talk face to face. Even if your conversation is over the phone or through a text message, make your end of day conversation a priority. Give your full attention and show genuine interest. Ask questions. Try not to give unsolicited advice (there will be times when your partner just wants to vent). Validate their emotions, letting your partner know that their feelings make sense to you. Use an appropriate amount of eye contact, which means you will need to put the phone down, turn the iPad off, or pause the TV. Making this conversation a priority is yet another way to connect.
This sounds incredibly simple, right? But… with life comes stress. Some couples wake up one day and find themselves in a negative rut that they can honestly say they have been in for a very long time. This negative undertone is toxic to a relationship. Don’t let that happen in YOUR relationship. Be kind! Use a kind tone and choose kind words. Focus on the good qualities in each other. Praise each other and express appreciation often. Say “please” and “’thank you.” When there is conflict, do your best to come from a place of love and respect, choosing words that radiate kindness, even when it is difficult.
Pick your battles
Remember, in a relationship, there are two individual people. Both individuals bring into the relationship their own set of beliefs and expectations about everything. Inevitably, you will come across situations where you both have differing opinions about a particular topic. This is okay… Different does NOT equal wrong. Do your best to empathize and understand your partner’s point of view and accept that you just simply may not agree 100% of the time. If the concern is something that is very important to you, then have that conversation. Work to solve the issue. Compromise when possible. If the concern is something that you can let go, let it go (without holding on to any resentment.)
Conflict is inevitable. The way we express ourselves during conflict can be a major roadblock to resolving issues. Sticking to rules such as not yelling, taking a time-out when needed, taking turns talking, avoiding degrading language, and discussing one issue at a time are helpful ways to keep conflict from turning into a time when partners are hurting each other, rather than sorting through an issue. According to The Seven Principles for Making a Marriage Work by John Gottman, PH.D., and Nan Silver, avoiding what they call “The Four Horsemen” will help difficult conversations become more productive and less hurtful. Avoiding Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling are four communications styles that, according to research, can predict the end of a relationship.
Don’t let conflict engulf your relationship. Decide today that you are going to work hard to make sure your relationship is healthy and that your conversations are kind and productive. Create an atmosphere of respect that fosters a deeper, more fulfilling connection. If you are at a point where you might need extra help, reach out to a counselor. Here at Texas Harmony Counseling, we have trained professionals that can provide you a safe place of non-judgmental understanding, where you can share your story with someone who will join you in your journey to a deeper connection with your partner.