Relationship advice often starts with the importance of communicating, but experts say, “don’t stop there”. People need to feel appreciated in their relationships. A good relationship is built on trust, and trust starts with honesty and sharing feelings with each other. Showing affection with small acts of kindness means as much as saying, “I love you.” When it comes to fighting, sticking to issues without blaming goes a long way toward keeping love alive. Here are some of the best tips that relationship counselors share frequently with their clients.
Make a decision to love.
Love is a choice you make each day. When you wake up in the morning and notice something you admire about your partner, you’ll carry love throughout the day. Waking up and seeing nothing but flaws in your partner makes it hard to feel a bond.
Open up about your feelings.
Resentment builds if you hold things in. Are you reluctant to share because you think your partner doesn’t believe your feelings matter? Bringing your feelings out into the open may draw you closer. Don’t just focus on the negative but make a point to share positive feelings as well. Remember, if you hold things in, eventually it may be worse than being open and discussing how you feel.
Don’t be afraid to show how you feel.
Showing that you appreciate them can convey the feeling just as much as saying the words, “I love you.” Little acts of kindness can make a big difference in a relationship. Rubbing their back when they’re tired from a long day at work or stocking up on their favorite flavor of ice cream are ways to declare that they are important to you.
Diffuse arguments over money.
Talking about money and sharing financial goals can make your relationship stronger. If you think it’s time to start saving for a down payment on a house instead of spending on a lavish vacation, make it known. Discuss how to spend your money together and find a compromise that satisfies you both. Working together as a team will make you happier than fighting.
Find a way to fix the things you fight about constantly.
Figure out the cause of conflicts that keep coming up over and over, and then decide on solutions. You may think he spends too much while he may think you should cut back on overtime at the office. Unless you identify the issue that’s the core of the problem, you’ll just keep fighting about small annoyances. Focusing on specific actions is more helpful than resorting to labels. Tell him how it makes you feel when he’s always late meeting you. “I feel like you don’t value my time” is more effective than saying, “You are always so inconsiderate!”
Repeat his words before responding.
Try the technique that’s called mirroring. This will improve the accuracy of communication during important conversations. When your partner says something, repeat back to them what you heard before you respond to it. Try something like, “So I believe you’re saying that spending every weekend at my parents doesn’t leave us enough time to ourselves?” Mirroring their words before commenting lets them know that you hear what they’re saying. Repeating what you think you heard also gives you a chance to clear up misunderstandings.
Make fighting productive, not hurtful.
Be specific about how your partner’s actions affect you. Say something like, “When you make a big purchase without consulting me first, I feel like you’re trying to hide things from me.” Focus on the issue instead of blaming. Shifting from telling a partner what to do and instead sharing how their behavior makes you feel can make a big difference in your relationship.