Julie and I are continually looking for things to help us personally and help those we meet with. One of the statements we find ourselves saying to couples regularly is “do what you know works”. We have found this advice to be very helpful to refocusing what couple used to do and what they are now missing. The tips below are from The Relationship Institute and have been key in making our marriage a happy healthy one. I would encourage you to read them without any preconceived ideas of “I’ve got this.” Rather, consider what you can do today to improve on one (or a few!) of the ideas on this list.
1. Start catching your partner out doing good things and let them know.
2. Everyday say 20 positive things you appreciate about your partner to one negative thing; that’s right, a 20:1 ratio. This is about building up the emotional bank account.
3. Start really listening to what your partner is saying. Suspend your judgements and invest in understanding their needs and desires.
4. Spend time getting to know your partner’s interests, likes, dislikes, favourite movie, music and so on. Remember, we change over time. Updating what we know about each other is essential.
5. When in conflict with your partner, look for the aspirations and future goals within that conflict. Remember, conflict is a normal component of relationships.
6. Always remember, the use of contempt, criticism, stonewalling and defensiveness in conflict is highly destructive.
7. Research clearly shows that the use of contempt in relationships is the number one predictor of divorce.
8. Manage your own stress levels and by learning techniques to reduce your physiological and psychological symptoms of stress and anger such as increased heart rate, tightness in the body and narrowing in thinking.
9. When your partner bids for your attention, turn towards them and show genuine interest.
10. Take a moment to breathe, before you say something that is not building up your marriage.