Brien's Relationship Tips
For example, instead of:
"Most husbands would have replaced that by now. You only care about yourself!"
Try speaking directly to your feelings and needs without any interpretation of the meaning behind your partners behavior.
"When you didn't replace that I felt disapointed, hurt, and unimportant. I need responsiveness, care, and attention. Would you be willing to give me reassurance that you love me and replace that by tomorrow?"
Defensiveness is like a centrifuge in the relationship. It separates and furthers the cascade toward isolation. When your partner makes a complaint, accept as much responsibility as you can.
A criticism is a character attack. A complaint is a gift to your relationship, a sharing of your preferences and an opportunity for your partner to know you deeper and to respond directly to your needs.
Anger and resentment are often surface emotions that conceal more vulnerable emotions like sadness, fear, insecurity, and disappointment. Although these deeper feelings take more courage to share, your partner might find it easier to respond to the softness of your defenselessness.
Couples often make the mistake of building up a reservoir of complaints and then launching a rapid attack of out-flowing dissatisfaction. Instead, focus on complaint/topic at a time and stay with it until you have reached as much resolve as possible.
Take a time out for a minimum of 30 minutes. When your breathing is normal and your heart rate has returned to a resting rate, resume the conversation. When conflict escalates the body becomes physiologically stirred up. The heart rate increases above 100 beats per minute, epinephrine is released and breathing becomes shallow. Our ability to be rational and productive when we are "flooded" is nearly impossible. We become more like lizards and instinctively fight, freeze, or flee and say and do things that are damaging to the relationship.
All couples struggle with two opposing forces, the needs for both autonomy and connection. The goal is to balance these two needs without loosing yourself or your connection to your partner. This is easier to talk about than to do and requires painful growth and maturity.
Your friendship is the relationship's backbone and buffers against negativity. Share your psychological worlds. Spend time updating each other with new information about work, irritations, and excitements. Show affection, admiration, and praise. If your relationship is distressed, spend a whole week only sharing what you appreciate about each other. "One thing I appreciate about you is
Another thing I appreciate about you is
.Another thing I appreciate about you is