5 steps to make your relationship better when things start to go wrong.
Okay, let’s say you have a partner or date who is pretty important to you. But things they do niggle and trouble you. Your feelings are in turmoil. There are times when you just don’t understand what your lover really means. Life is never smooth, not for long, anyway. There seems to be an endless round of fights and worries. You don’t want to break up and you definitely don’t want anyone to be hurt.
The little worries may not seem too much of an issue at the start. But, trouble can grow from a mound to a mountain and, without realizing it, you may have a raging emotional problem that seems difficult (or impossible) to fix. Having a girlfriend or boyfriend is not easy.
If you put up with little irritations and ignore your doubts, trouble may follow you. If you suppress what you are thinking and what you would like to be doing (but you can’t), then dangers may grow. And, all from a small misinterpretation at the very start.
Let’s learn how to avoid a nasty fall.
Step 1. Know exactly what your partner means and how they feel.
Only then can you make your messages clear. Don’t suppress little troubles and misunderstandings. Identify them. Know exactly what they are and what causes them. They may be all or, to a degree, your fault. They may be caused by your partner (or partly so).
If the list of misunderstandings is long, you have left dealing with the problems too long. Choose one and start working on it.
Step 2. Air the problem in a sensitive way.
That means you have to mention it in a manner that won’t offend your partner. Do this well because they still have to get your message. Don’t let it seem like World War Three has broken out. First, because it hasn’t. And, second because, if it has, you’ve left it too long. This is definitely not the time for a big surprise. Test your message before you tell them. Be absolutely sure it does what you want.
This is the time to talk about the characteristics of the problem. Does it happen often? Does it occur just at the wrong time? Is it something that your previous partner did and it reminds you of them? Don’t worry about solutions yet. Just air the problem sensitively. You will find that being rational and careful will tend to take the heat out of the issue. So, will being sure of what you are saying and how they are reacting.
Step 3. Next, it’s time for you both to decide what you believe.
This probably will not occur for a little while after you have taken Steps 1 and 2. Let the issue mellow for a while. When things are moving along nicely, broach the subject again and say what you think is true. This is not a declaration of war. In fact, it is the opposite: a declaration of peace; a statement of how you see their point of view and how you see yours. When you are both in the mode of knowledge, look for the overlaps, the similarities, the areas of agreement.
Again, you are not looking for solutions yet. Just that deep sense of calm that arises with settled knowledge. That is, you know what they understand (get them to confirm it) and you know what you understand, get them to explain it to you and, gently, make corrections.
As you can see, this is not the time to dump your values and surrender. Nor is it the time to dump your values on your partner, saying ‘like it or lump it’.
This is the perfect time to work on closer integration. Or, in other words, love.
Step 4. Now it is time to say how you feel.
To express your feelings with flowers, hugs, good times, whatever. Don’t express hot anger or obsessive love. Look for the positives and admit the negatives. Say you enjoy learning more about them. Say how comfortable you are that little problems can be discussed so smoothly. Closely assess how they feel. Be care yo express your feeling precisely and clearly.
Step 5. Okay, now it’s solution time.
If you are clever, you will know the behavior or attitude that will stop that one misunderstanding that you want to resolve. Praise your partner when you see them express that new attitude or display that better behavior. Even, if they do it in another context. ‘I really love the way you treated your friend. It was very sensitive of you. You must really care for them.’ And, when they make that change for you, thank them for their kindness. That will reinforce the change. Again, make sure you know exactly what they mean and how they are feeling. Know your own mind and messages, as well.
If the problem persists, it may be time to ask your partner to avoid saying or doing the thing that irritates you. After all, you have gone through a pretty rigorous process to resolve it and, if they don’t change, maybe they don’t want to. You will have learned from that, too.
If they say or do the thing that irritates you a couple more times, it is really important that you express yourself properly. By that, I mean, don’t emotionalize. Don’t get angry or sad. Express yourself by physical action. Take a walk, a run, a ride. Dig your vegetable garden. Move the furniture. Clean up a messy room. Do (physically) something that is positive for you.
You can see how some people totally confuse and conflate emotional and physical expression. They may become angry and violent. They may become soppy and sexual. These are totally the wrong ways to go. They are utterly counter productive and will come back to bite you, legally, socially, emotionally.
The result you seek is a long, loving relationship. You have to work at it. And, if you follow those five steps, you will increase your chances immeasurably. They key is to understand what they mean and what they feel exactly.
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