Have you ever wondered what the “magic potion” is to fixing your problems in a relationship? Well, I may not have a PhD in relationship counseling and have not conducted experiments or researched this answer, but I can tell you something that can help...
Really…. The answer to all of my problems in my relationship is talking. Talking = having an open and respectful dialogue full of “I” statements and respectful requests.
First… you must be aware of THE MOST IMPORTANT IDEA OF A RELATIONSHIP, the 5 to 1 rule.
For every 1 cost of a relationship there MUST be at least 5 rewards. If this is not the case in your relationship…it’s probably not going to work out...sorry
(It’s called the social exchange theory if you want to learn more)
I have been living with my boyfriend Rob for the past 20 days in Argentina and we have been together for literally 23.5/7 (I exclude a half for when we have alone time in the bathroom). But seriously, when you live with someone, you are not normally together 24/7! Typically people living together go to work on their own, have special interests on their own, and then see each other in the evenings.
So, with this constant togetherness, there ought to be some arguing…right? Wrong!
In the 7 months of our relationship and the past 20 days of living 24/7 together, there has not been 1 argument. Today was the first day when I thought, oh maybe we will have our “first argument” as I was feeling a need for some independence and space. But what ended up happening is that we just talked.
I know there are many factors that go into a relationship and this is most likely not going to fix all of your problems in your relationship. But there are a few things I learned in a Close Relationships course at UConn that have completely changed how to handle conflict in relationships.
The more unexpressed annoyances and irritants partners have, the less satisfied they tend to be in their relationship... SO LET THEM OUT!
People handle conflicts differently; I for one use to always hold in what was bothering me until one day I would just explode and let everything plus the kitchen sink out. But it is best to express your conflict ASAP and not let it build, but express your conflict correctly.
I give you 1 challenge:
If something is bothering you in your relationship, try a different method. Approach your partner respectfully and start with an "I" statement, for example:
"Rob, when we go grocery shopping, I feel as though I do not have as much as a say with what we pick for dinner. I would appreciate it if next time I would have more of a say with what we get for dinner." (This is a real conflict that happened tonight FYI)
"Rob, you don’t let me pick out food I want to get for dinner, you are so controlling!"
See a difference? In the first situation you are expressing YOUR OWN feelings and using “I” statements where the second you are ATTACKING the other person, even if you are calmly speaking. The second scenario causes the other person to put up a shield for protection. Accusation statements just go down hill and are start of the YOU DO THIS, AND YOU DO THAT arguments.
It may be hard at first, but if a couple can make it a habit of using “I” statements and respectful requests, it can really help a relationship.
Here is a great workbook from my former Professor, Heather Lagace, that has many activities on how to think, act, and understand your relationships differently. http://www.amazon.com/Growing-Healthier-Relationship-Heather-Lagace-ebook/dp/B009YZ9E0O
Good Luck Love Birds!