16 May 10 Tips to Improve Your Couple Relationship
It will be inaccurate to say that most couples have communication problems, because ALL couples have communication problems!
The reason for that is A. that we are not mind readers, and B. that we assume we are.
As a couples’ coach, I meet regularly with couples in trouble. Most of the times it’s because they have neglected their relationship for too long, the first step is to learn to communicate with each other. From there, it is so much easier to get on the highroad to happiness and satisfaction, less fighting and more calm conversations and solution-oriented discussions.
Unfortunately, relationship and communication skills are not taught in high school. Which is a shame, since I find it more useful and beneficial in life than history and geography…
But anyway, I’ve collected a few tips and tricks for you from my practice. Don’t be overwhelmed, you can start with choosing just one or two of them and implement them gradually in your life.
Here are 10 tips how to improve your couple relationship:
- Learn to listen till the other partner feels understood.
As Stephen Covey says in his book: “Seek first to understand then to be understood.“ Note listening is not agreeing! You may disagree, but only after you’ve fully understood your partner’s perspective. If you don’t understand ask instead of argue. Sometimes we assume we understand the other partner, but it’s not so. The best way to make sure you understand correctly is to listen silently with intent and respect, put yourself in the other’s ‘shoes’. You listen attentively, every few sentences you reflect back what you heard and understood, and ask: “did I get it right? Is this what you meant?”.
- Be considerate: Consideration and compromises play a vital role of any partnership. “If it’s so important to you than I’m willing to accept not getting what I wanted.”
- Acceptance – “this is my partner, no one is perfect, it’s not my job to redesign him/her. “
- Choose forgiveness– stop collecting wrong doings, keeping score and constantly reminding the partner of all slip-ups ever made.
- Avoid competition: here you will need to let go of a world view that sees all people in on a vertical ladder – either above or below me. Letting go of comparisons, competitions, win/lose. “Each of us has our strengths and our challenges, we are partners and I’m proud of my partner’s successes and virtues, and I am supportive and encouraging.”
- Learn to cooperate fully – this means each of us is doing our best, without measuring contributions, doing what needs to be done and not in order to prove to someone.
- Open communication – stop thinking of my partner as the enemy, talk to them as I talk to my best friend, encouraging, empathic. Try to replace grumpy complaints with a request or a wish for change.
Instead of “why do you always throw your socks on the floor?” – try:
“I wish you will put your dirty socks in the basket”
or instead of “where were you all night??” – say:
“it would be great if next time you remember to let me know when you’re late, I was so worried something happened to you”.
- Distinguishing between myself and the other – each of us is a separate person, if he’s embarrassing himself – it’s not mine, if she is cranky this morning – it doesn’t need to affect my mood.
- Control only myself – we can only change or control our own behavior; we cannot control other people’s. Also, we cannot control the past, what’s done is done. But we can ask ourself what is my part in this problem and how I can change my behavior from now on.
- Focus on what is, on the positive – instead of focusing on what isn’t, what’s missing, what’s wrong – think more about what you do have together, what’s working well in your relationship, enjoy it, express it, talk about it.
Your partner comes home upset? Here’s a 3-stage scenario for effective listening (based on Esther Perel’s approach to couple’s counselling):
- Create a space for your partner to unload and safely vent
“hey baby you seem upset, what’s wrong? Bad day at work?”
- validate what they say
“that sounds awful, if this was done to me, I’d be very pissed off”
- support them
“come here baby” … hug…
Try this at home! The power of the right words is magical!
Need more personal support? Want to enjoy a better relationship with someone important in your life? I offer couple and relationship coaching.
Photo credit: Justin Groep, Unsplash.
Abramson, Z. (2005). Learning couple relations.
Perel, E. (2018). Where should we begin?
Covey, S. (1989) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.