1. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt.
Giving your partner the benefit of the doubt means that you are approaching them during moments of interaction in a healthy and constructive manner. You are approaching them with love and compassion.
The opposite is seen when you can feel yourself on edge before your partner even opens their mouth. You are already in a position of “they don’t care about me” or “I don’t even see what the point of this is”.
Challenges with NOT giving your partner the benefit of the doubt include:
- Struggle to focus on the main issue being discussed.
- You see the worst in your partner.
- You focus on weaknesses.
- You use “you statements” versus “I statements”.
- The interaction is often set up to fail.
2. Practice active listening.
To improve your relationship, try to literally practice listening to your partner using the following strategies:
- Ask your partner for clarity if you are not entirely sure about what is being shared.
- Use words that include, “what I hear you saying is “X”. Is this correct?”
Practicing active listening helps you feel heard and respected in your relationship when communication is taking place.
3. Know when to hit the brakes.
One of the common problems that I notice couples struggle with is seen during communication. Couples will start a conversation and as tension increases, they often struggle to know when to stop.
I want you to reflect on your relationship. Think about some of the conflicts that took place.
- How well did you and your partner do with hitting the brakes during conversations or interactions that were destructive?
To help couples with this area, I encourage them to reflect on two key areas.
- How do you want your partner to view or perceive you?
- How do you want to treat your partner?
Most people tell me that want to be perceived in a positive manner. They also share that they want to treat their partner in a positive manner.
This piece of knowledge helps couples understand that stopping a conversation during destructive moments directly strengthens mutual respect and how you will be treated in the relationship.
4. Hold space for connection
The key is to do your best to hold space aimed at nurturing connection. In a very basic way, this process is exactly what takes place during the early stages of dating.
Think about dating.
Two people meet and generously give time to each other. During this time they connect in varying areas ranging from intimacy to spirituality.
Key domains to consider exploring when it comes to connecting with your partner include:
- Spiritual connection
- Emotional connection
- Physical connection
Two additional resources that can support with relationship growth can be found in the links below:
5. Slow down your heart rate
During the conflict, most people experience an increase in their heart rate.
I want you to think about your relationship. Are there times that you are in conflict and can literally feel your body growing tense? The tension you feel equates to a high heart rate and muscle tension.
It’s vital to acknowledge that an increase in heart rate can lead to the following:
- As a strategy try to get to know your resting heart rate. Anytime that you notice you are engaging with your partner and your heart rate is accelerated, try to pause. Take a break and agree to stop communicating until your heart rate lowers to a resting heart rate. Once the heart rate is stable, give yourself one hour to remain in the rested heart rate state before engaging again with your partner.
This simple strategy will go a long way to support addressing conflict resolution in the relationship and create spaces for healthy communication.
6. Do not keep track
Do you ever feel that there is an unhealthy level of focus on who will win or lose in the relationship?
A common behavior found in unhealthy relationships is that of keeping track of the score. The couple will start a conversation and before you know it, begin the game of ping one. Each attaching the other with one judgment or criticism over the other.
Simply, try to focus on the conversation at hand versus keeping score of who is winning or losing. At the start and end, you are on the same team.The