"Always be a fun couple, your friends will notice and wonder what the magic is that you found." author unknown
This may sound obvious, but many couples are stuck in criticism (aka attack) and defend. This is not good for yourself or your relationship. The Gottman Institute's research suggests this is how couples slowly deteriorate in their relationship. Here are four tips to help change criticism in your relationship:
- Change your criticism to a gentle start up. For example, instead of pointing out your partner's flaws notice their strengths. Use a gentle tone when you start the conversation. Don't make assumptions about your partner.
- Work on compromise. This is your relationship, listen to what your partner has to say and acknowledge what they say. Make eye contact and don't walk away without a plan. Agree on a plan that is good enough for the both of you.
- Complain without blame. A complaint focuses on a specific behavior. Criticism attacks the character of the person. This will isolate your partner in the relationship and make them feel alone. Talk about your feelings using an "I" statement and then express a positive need. For example, don't say 'you are selfish,' instead say 'I'm feeling left out can we talk about my day tonight?'
- Remember, even happy couples have arguments. You don't have to be perfect. We have found that couples that strive for a good enough relationship have reasonably happy relationships that last. Stop comparing yourself to your friends and family, this is self defeating. Go easy on yourself and easy on your partner. This will help build understanding in the relationship.