When in a long term relationship or marriage the following information can be beneficial:
1) Communicate openly about what you want from your partner. Ask him/her what they want from the relationship. The purpose of these questions will be to figure out if you are both on the same page in terms of what you want from the relationship.
2) Do not allow disagreements to fester. Find a quiet place and talk about the issue openly one at a time. Use I messages such as I think, I feel and I want. Starting a sentence with you may cause defensiveness on the part of your partner. Identify the problem, your feelings about it and solutions. Do not blame or attack your partner because then you will become side tracked and things will get too personal and consequently the issue of discussion will be lost. A a battle is just that, a battle about who is right, who is wrong and who is smarter. Staying tuned into the problem will go much further in a discussion then personal attacks.
3) Compliment your partner freely and spontaneously each and everyday. Do not compliment him/her after a conflict because the timing could back fire and magnify the negative aspect of the situation.
4) Use surprise to make you partner feel good. Special notes, saying, "I love you" hid under their pillow or placed next to their wrist watch can foster good feelings and cohesion.
5) Plan time together so you and your partner have quality time together to look forward. In the average couple it will be difficult to have quality time due to busy schedules unless some planning is done on a minimum of two times monthly basis.
Submitted by Ken Barrett, MSW, LCSW
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