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by: Alan Stafford
1. If you want to be a better communicator, be a better listener. This means listening without reaction and without judgment. When your partner shares, you are observing your partner’s innermost feelings and emotions. These feelings are neither good nor bad. This is just how your partner feels. You don’t have to agree.
But, the first step in effective communications is to listen and understand that your partner feels that way. Communication in a good relationship isn’t just two people talking to each other. It is also two people listening.
2. When your partner is sharing a belief, an opinion, or a feeling, it is his feeling. He is entitled to it; it’s his. Telling him he’s wrong never works and makes people defend their positions. Do you remember your reaction last time when your partner said that you were wrong? It works just the same the other way. Remember that understanding and accepting that your partner has these feelings does not mean you agree with them.
3. Being a successful couple is not a win-lose game where one person has to give in. Being in a successful relationship means that neither of you is completely right, nor completely wrong. Successful communication between you and your partner may help you find a third alternative where you can both live happily. Example: you hate Chinese food; he hates Mexican food. You could argue forever until one person gives in and is miserable throughout the meal. Or, you could go to an Italian restaurant that you both like.
Two small tips: 1) don’t give up too soon – oftentimes you will need to talk the problem over for a few minutes before you find that common ground. 2) Don’t always give in to keep the peace- if you always give in and let your partner decide, it will someday result in having an “I’m tired of letting you make all the decisions!” kind of a row.
4. Learn the 3-step approach to solving the differences in your relationship:
a) Verbalize the behavior that is causing you a problem
b) Explain how the behavior is creating a problem for you
c) Request that your partner do something to change the situation. Notice that I did not say correct the behavior. Correcting implies that the behavior was wrong. You don’t need to make the behavior wrong. You just want the behavior to change.
5. Finally, never say no to your partner’s request. Not for money, not for help around the house, not even for sex. Your answer should be either “yes”, or you should make a counteroffer. Your partner can then counter your counteroffer. The counteroffers continue until both partners have a solution that both can live with.
This is another example of finding that third way. This process will strengthen your relationship. When you say “no”, you cause hurt and feelings of rejection. Saying “no” also shuts down future communication. Your partner will start thinking “I won’t ask her anymore, because the answer is always no”.
After all, that is what marriage is all about: a continual meshing, accommodating, and negotiating between two individuals trying to act as a couple. If you had wanted everything your way, you should have stayed single. Remember, when it comes to your relationship, it’s not my way; it’s not his way; it’s our way. Always look for that third way – that common ground where both of you can be happy.
About The Author
Dr. Alan Stafford, Relationship Results Coach
I help Singles and Couples build relationships that work
by: Martha Winfrey
Marriage counseling or divorce? That is the question being asked thousands of times every day across America. With so many marriages ending in divorce, the question can be asked: How many of those marriages might have been saved? Now a new book, combining the insights of five experts in a single volume, offers a multifaceted resource for helping avert the emotional trauma of breaking up a once happy marriage.
Entitled The Marriage Medics, the manual, published online at www.marriagemedics.com and co-authored by clinical psychotherapist Cynthia Cooper, Ph.D., spells out key reasons why so many marriages crumble, and cites ways in which couples might save their marriage.
The quintet of experts are: Dr. Cooper, who counsels couples and families; Dan Smith, a financial executive who helps couples resolve money problems; Dr. Patti Britton, a nationally recognized clinical sexologist; John Hunt, a noted attorney specializing in family law; and Cmdr. Bobbitti May, a U.S. Navy chaplain who advises military personnel on marital issues.
The book pinpoints several root causes of trouble in a marriage, and lists approaches for healing them. The reasons include:
Unrealistic Expectations & Festering Resentments
The former, according to Dr. Cooper, can involve differences over gender roles, i.e., who does what regarding tasking activities and decision-making. “Couples may reduce conflicts,” she writes, “by taking an equal-opportunity approach, by determining who is most qualified to do each task.” Unspoken resentments can grow out of, among other things, what Cooper terms “The Three A’s”–addiction (be it to drugs, alcohol, or TV), affairs, and abuse. Cooper points out that such dysfunctions can be alleviated by various means including: identifying the problem, learning how to handle emotions, and clinical therapy.
The book cites data that 43 percent of all married couples argue over money, making it the No. 1 reason husbands and wives fight. The alternative, says veteran banker Daniel Smith, is for couples to realize that managing finances in a household is like running a business. Spouses should stop living beyond their means, forget about “keeping up with the Joneses,” agree on a financial plan, go on a credit-card “diet”–and celebrate when they pay off a debt.
This sensitive subject, Dr. Patti Britton notes, often involves difficulties concerning frequency and quality of intimacy. She enumerates “five basic areas that need to be addressed, unblocked, and then aligned for a couple to enjoy a healthy, passionate sex life.” They are: 1) Mind, 2) Emotions, 3) Body (including body image issues), 4) Energy and 5) Spirit.
Two other topics addressed in the book are: the legal web of divorce, and the importance of spiritual healing. Attorney Hunt points out that many couples do not anticipate the legal maze the parting process can represent, plus the potentially devastating financial costs. Navy Chaplain Bobbitti May, taking an ecumenical approach, suggests that, “Spirituality takes us beyond . . . fixed views of how we relate to God [and] others. . . . it is the practice of how we do relationships–both horizontally with another human being and vertically with our Higher Power.”
The Marriage Medics comes highly recommended by reviewer Jennie S. Bev, managing editor of BookReviewClub.com who says the book “teaches couples what to expect realistically from their partners –and themselves– and how to act, also realistically when it comes to sustaining their marriages. It’s like having a knowledgeable friend who knows the ins and outs of the married life.”
Tami Brady of the Blether Book Review says “Though The Marriage Medic is meant mainly for those couples with marital difficulties, much of the information included in this book will be helpful to any couple. This is particularly true of the sections on communications, vision of the relationship, underlying resentments, and gender roles. These issues and hints relate directly to nearly any relationship and therefore will be of value to almost any reader.” The Marriage Medics can be purchased online at: www.themarriagemedics.com
About The Author
Martha Winfrey, freelance writer is interested in relationships, travel, career, organizing, money saving, home decorating, fitness and celebrity topics. Martha can be reached at: email@example.com