“Contempt says, I’m better than you. Respect says, I appreciate you.” The Gottman Institute

Not all relationships are dysfunctional. Unfortunately, that’s what we tend to focus on. Have you ever met a couple that is in a happy relationship, and wonder how do they do it? Believe it or not, it can happen to you, with a little work. The first step is good communication, where you do not convey contempt or hostility. Here are four facts about happy relationships:
  1. Care rather than confronting during tough conversations. Start the conversation gently. Complain without blame. It’s not about winning or having control over your partner. Ask for your partner’s perspective and take a genuine interest in their answer. Take time to evaluate the outcomes.
  2. Practice empathy. This is the hallmark of resilience. Try to understand your partner’s experiences and emotions. This will build understanding in the relationship and it will also help build the friendship.
  3. Reframe your thinking during tough times. This is a time to change things in the relationship. Instead of trying the same thing over and over, hear your partner out. Try and identify solutions that haven’t been tried. Be open to accepting influence from one another.
  4. Connect during daily transition points. Don’t forget the importance of touching. Kiss, hug, smile and touch one another when waking up, or before leaving for the day. This is also important when you reunite at the end of the day and before going to bed. We all need this, and it’s actually very simple.
  5. Have hope. There are three elements to hope: having goals, feeling empowered to shape your daily life, and identifying multiple avenues towards making your goals happen. It’s important to be supportive to your partner about their goals. This let’s them know you have taken a genuine interest in the relationship.
The early days of a relationship can be magical and exciting, but it can rub off. If you’ve gotten away from some of this stuff, it’s never too late to bring it back into your relationship. After four decades of research in working with couples, The Gottman Institute has found friendship is the core of a happy relationship. For more help on how to rebuild the friendship in your relationship, please give me a call for a consultation at (650) 892-0357.

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