Relationship Challenges

"Understanding Must Precede Advice" Dr.'s John & Julie Gottman
 
Yes, what you say does matter. Sometimes, your words can hurt those closest to you. Instead of looking for what is wrong with you partner, start asking yourself what is right with you partner. Pick three things you truly appreciate about your partner and tell them daily what you appreciate. For example: 'I really like how resourceful you are, you are exciting, you are creative, you are strong and you are sexy.'
 
We live in a very fast-paced world these days and often do not spend as much time with our partner as we would like. Instead of having a stress-inducing conversation try having a stress-reducing conversation when you have time together. Both partners need to agree on an upcoming stress in their life that is not dierctly related to the relationship. This could be a visit from the in-laws or a dinner party. It is important to just listen to your partner - do not try to solve the problem or take on the problem as your own.
 
Each person will have a turn as the speaker and the listener. It is important that the speaker talk about their stress with as much detail as possible. It is important that the listener avoid problem-solving. Do your best to convey understanding of your partner's thoughts and feelings. This means showing genuine interest by maintaining eye contact and asking questions. Take an interest, ask your partner to tell you more. State your emotion, for example, excitement - 'this is great, I really like this.' Fear: 'that would also worry me.' Anger: 'I can see why you are upset or annoyed I can change this right away.'
 
It is important to use our words carefully. Stay away from being critical, defensive and stonewalling or ignoring your partner. When the conversation is over, make sure to ask your partner if they felt understood and whether they would like your advice at solving the problem. It is important to stay in touch with your partner it would be great if you could have a converstation like this every day. Start to discuss how and when you will have this kind of a conversation.

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Lianne Avila, MFT
1510 Fashion Island Blvd.
Suite 110
San Mateo, CA 94404

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