“A pure and lasting relationship, has fights, has trust, has faith, has tears, has hurt, has laughter and has weird stupid and unnecessary arguments.” Kemmy Nola

You are so stubborn!
Whenever there is a problem you always blame me!
I’ve never been able to pursue my career it’s always your career first!
I just can’t stand to look at you!

Have you ever said any of these things to your partner or has your partner ever said any of these things to you? If your answer is yes, then, you are not alone.

After practicing as a Marriage and Family Therapist for fourteen years and spending the last four years focusing on couples. I find these are the four ways to ruin a perfectly good relationship.
  1. Criticize (Attack)
  2. Defensive
  3. Contempt
  4. Stonewalling

These are also known as The Four Horsemen. Remember, we are adults here and it may be time to change the way you communicate with your partner. Stop criticizing your partner. Use a softer tone when talking to your partner, and tell them how you are feeling. For example, that hurt my feelings, I’m feeling unappreciated or I’m getting worried.

Stop being defensive, learn to take responsibility for your behavior. For example, I really blew that one; I can see my part in this or let’s try that one over again. Stop holding contempt for your partner and learn to appreciate one another. For example, I am thankful you’re in my life, I really admire your drive and sense of humor, or I love you.

And, last but not least, stop stonewalling. Learn to do physiological self-soothing. For example, stop for 10 minutes and listen to some relaxing music while focusing on your breath. Go for a walk or go to a yoga class. Watch a comedy or read an interesting book.

Yes, I am asking you to change the dialogue you use towards one another. After a while this will feel like the natural way to communicate with your partner and you will start to enjoy one another’s company again.

Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with a practice in San Mateo, CA. For more information please go to, www.LessonsforLove.com.

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