First, avoid four major pitfalls: do not criticize your partner. You can complain, you can discuss issues, you can request he do something differently, but do not criticize. As a corollary to not criticizing, avoid becoming contemptuous and, of course, showing contempt. No matter how strongly you disagree with your partner, remain open to the fact that she has a reason for her behavior, and avoid acting superior. Stay off your high horse. Third, do not stonewall--be open to discussing issues using good communication skills. This might require taking a time-out to get yourself un-angry and prepared for a rational discussion, but do not offer a blank wall to your partner.
Finally, do not become defensive. There is a huge difference between "I am sorry I inconvenienced you" (genuine empathy for the other person) and "I was late because....." (taking care of your own ego). Defending is a natural human tendency when we screw up, but it does nothing to assuage the hurt feelings of your partner.
Now that you have seen some major don'ts, here is a huge DO: do speak kindly and appreciatively to your partner. Research shows clearly that lasting relationships contain five times as many positive statements as negative ones. Yes, five to one. Keep track and grade yourself--how close do you come to saying five nice, appreciative, positive, and/or supportive things for every complaint you utter? Many people are surprised.
Learning to achieve these valuable goals is often not as easy as it seems. For example, using the techniques of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy to get from angry to calm before talking to your partner about a problem is a valuable skill that most of us need a little help to master. Similarly, learning to sincerely accept that your partner is not out to get you, but genuinely feels as he feels is often quite difficult. Take responsibility today for improving your relationship. Remember, all relationships require 100% from each partner.
Dr. Low at the Center for Conscious Living can help you learn these important relationship skills, with or without your partner present. Improve your relationship today. Call 630-249-1983 or write Dr. Low now.