gottman

Fine Tune Your Relationship

Why do some relationships last forever and others fall apart? Here are some ways you can make your partner feel appreciated again and prevent your relationship from becoming a casualty.

 

    1.    Treat your partner as you would your boss, best friend, or best customer.

 

    2.    Think about what your partner wants and give it to him or her.

 

    3.    Think of ways you can do the unexpected and be thoughtful. Remember how you acted when you wanted to win your partner over.

 

    4.    Pay attention to your appearance. Dress nicely; get into shape.

 

    5.    Express your thoughts carefully. Being married doesn't give anyone permission to let it all hang out.

 

    6.    Spend regular time together alone.

 

    7.    Look for ways to compliment your partner.

 

    8.    Hug when you say hello and goodbye. It feels good and it makes people feel loved.

 

    9.    Learn and practice communication skills. Relating successfully to another person requires a set of skills that can be learned.

 

    10.    Be polite. Just because you are married doesn't mean you can forget your manners.

 

    11.    When you want something, say please.

 

    12.    When your partner does something for you, say thank you.

 

    13.    When your partner comes home after a day at work, greet her at the door and say hello. Ask how her day went.

 

    14.    When your partner leaves for work in the morning, say goodbye and "I love you" or "Have a good day."

 

    15.    When your partner faces a challenge at work during the day, ask how it went when you get home.

 

    16.    During your evening meal together, avoid the temptation to watch television or read the paper or mail. Look at your partner and have a conversation.

 

    17.    If you want to make plans that affect how your partner will be spending time, check with him first and make sure it's convenient.

 

    18.    When you ask your partner a question, make eye contact and listen to the answer.

 

    19.    When you disagree with something your partner says, pay attention to your response. Do you express your opinion without putting her down? You can express your opinion assertively rather than aggressively. For example, you can say, "I have another opinion. I think we should wait until spring to have the walls painted," rather than, "That's silly! We should wait until spring."

 

    20.    Pay attention to how much of your side of the conversation is asking questions versus making statements. If you tend to be the dominant one, ask more questions.

 

    21.    Ask open-ended questions to encourage your partner to open up and talk. Open-ended questions begin like this:

    a.    Tell me about...

    b.    What do you think of...

    c.    What was it like when...

 

    22.    Have you become passive with your partner because that's the easiest way to avoid conflict? Over time, this is not a good idea. You will inevitably begin to build up feelings of resentment because you are stifling your feelings, thoughts, and opinions. If you think you are choosing passive behavior too often, think about discussing it with your partner and asking him to help you be more assertive.

 

    23.    Researchers have found that people whose marriages last the longest have learned to separate from their families of origin (their own parents and siblings) and have appropriate, healthy boundaries. They value and honor their own privacy and separateness as a couple. This means they have regular, appropriate contact with their extended family, but that it is not excessive or stifling. How do you compare?

 

    24.    Check your communication with your partner and beware of using "You" messages. These are statements that begin with you. For example:

You need to come home by 6:00 tonight.

You shouldn't do that.

You should call me from the office and tell me when you'll be home.

Here is what you ought to do.

"You" messages are damaging because they make the other person feel bad or disrespected. It feels like you are talking down to him or her.

 

    25.    If you want to demonstrate to your partner that you respect and esteem him or her, try speaking with "I" messages instead. When you start your statement with "I," you are taking responsibility for the statement. It is less blameful and less negative than the "you" message.

You can use this formula: Your feelings + Describe the behavior + Effect on you. This is how an "I" message sounds: When I heard that you'd planned a weekend up north, I was confused about why you hadn't asked me first, so I could be sure to get the time off. It takes some practice and you have to stop and think about what you are going to say, but your marriage deserves to be handled with care.

 

    26.    Make a list of your partner's positive qualities. Share them with him and tell her why you think each is true.

 

    27.    Ask your partner to do the same for you.

 

    28.    Respect each other's private space. Over time, many couples let this slide.

 

    29.    As the years pass, many couples begin to feel like they are living in the same house, but have parallel lives. Their paths cross in fewer places. What is the trend in your relationship and what do you want to do about it?

Check out: Connect With Your Partner: A Practical Activity Guide For Couples http://a.co/5t74ez6

Assertiveness Communication

Most of us know that assertiveness will get you further in life than being passive or aggressive. But few of us were actually taught how to be assertive. Here are some helpful tips.

 

1.    Choose the right time. Imagine you're dashing down the hall on your way to a meeting. Lisa passes by. You call out, "Can you have the Microsoft project out by Tuesday?" Because you haven't scheduled a special time to bring up the issue, Lisa has no reason to think your request deserves high priority.

   

2.    Choose the right place. Discuss important issues in a private, neutral location.

   

3.    Be direct. For example, "Lisa, I would like you to work overtime on the Microsoft project." Whether or not Lisa likes your request, she respects you for your directness.

   

4.    Say "I," not "we." Instead of saying, "We need the project by Tuesday," say, "I would like you to finish the project by Tuesday."

   

5.    Be specific. Instead of, "Put a rush on the Microsoft project," say, "I would like the Microsoft project finished and on Joe's desk by 9:00 Tuesday morning."

   

6.    Use body language to emphasize your words. "Lisa, I need that report Tuesday morning," is an assertive statement. But if you mumble this statement while staring at the floor, you undermine your message.

   

7.    Confirm your request. Ask your staff to take notes at meetings. At the end of each meeting, ask your group to repeat back the specifics that were agreed upon. This minimizes miscommunication.

   

8.    Stand up for yourself. Don't allow others to take advantage of you; insist on being treated fairly. Here are a few examples: "I was here first," "I'd like more coffee, please," "Excuse me, but I have another appointment," "Please turn down the radio," or "This steak is well done, but I asked for medium rare."

   

9.    Learn to be friendly with people you would like to know better. Do not avoid people because you don't know what to say. Smile at people. Convey that you are happy to see them.

   

10.    Express your opinions honestly. When you disagree with someone, do not pretend to agree. When you are asked to do something unreasonable, ask for an explanation.

   

11.    Share your experiences and opinions. When you have done something worthwhile, let others know about it.

   

12.    Learn to accept kind words. When someone compliments you, say, "Thank you."

   

13.    Maintain eye contact when you are in a conversation.

   

14.    Don't get personal. When expressing annoyance or criticism, comment on the person's behavior rather than attacking the person. For example: "Please don't talk to me that way," rather than, "What kind of jerk are you?"

   

15.    Use "I" statements when commenting on another's behavior. For example: "When you cancel social arrangements at the last minute, it's extremely inconvenient and I feel really annoyed."

   

16.    State what you want. If appropriate, ask for another behavior. ("I think we'd better sit down and try to figure out how we can make plans together and cut down on this kind of problem.")

   

17.    Look for good examples. Pay attention to assertive people and model your behavior after theirs.

   

18.    Start slowly. Express your assertiveness in low-anxiety situations at first; don't leap into a highly emotional situation until you have more confidence. Most people don't learn new skills overnight.

   

19.    Reward yourself each time you push yourself to formulate an assertive response. Do this regardless of the response from the other person.

   

20.    Don't put yourself down when you behave passively or aggressively. Instead, identify where you went off course and learn how to improve.