• 10 Tips to Fix Your Relationship and Get Back on the Right Track

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    10 Tips to Fix Your Relationship and Get Back on the Right Track

    All relationships cycle through three different phases called Harmony, Disharmony, and Repair.

    Synonyms for the Harmony phase are connection and passion; and those for the Disharmony phase are disconnection and pain.

    My goal as a couples counselor is to:

    Help you two spend more time in Harmony. Less time in Disharmony – and the intensity is not as much – and for you two to be able to provide quick and effective Repair to move back into Harmony.

    I’ll break down the 10 tips in the context of this framework.

    Tips for maintaining Harmony:

    1). Connect with a hug or kiss before you leave for the day – know one thing that your partner is doing for the day before you leave.

    2). Connect with a hug or kiss when you two reunite after the day.

    • Here’s a video of the Welcome Home exercise demonstrating this.
    • Invite your partner to share about their day.

    3). Go on a date and schedule separate times to talk about the relationship. One of my favorite relationship quotes is:

    “Intimacy is not something you have, but something you do.”

    This is a great reminder because now that you two have been together for awhile, possibly married and with kids, it doesn’t mean the relationship work is over.

    I know from experience, if you’re not feeling connected to your partner, their natural annoyances will be loud.

    For example, if I’m not feeling connected to Jess (my wife), I’ll be keenly aware of her imperfections, and vice-versa, because we all have them.

    Scheduling time to talk about the relationship has been coined, “The State of the Union Meeting” by relationship expert John Gottman.

    I love the idea of this because it provides the space for you two to share things you may have not be able to address during the busy week.

    John Gottman suggests using this time to talk about the relationship this week.

    For example, how have you two been feeling (vulnerability)? This is also a good time to get on the same page regarding finances, kids schedules, and chores.

    Tips for less Disharmony:

    4). Understand the underlying dynamics to your fights.

    Attachment theory can be helpful here. It helps partners understand their reflexes regarding connection and separation.

    For example, one partner may have a natural reflex for more connection, while the other has one for more space.

    This dynamic has the potential to cause a lot of disharmony and pain if it’s not understood and addressed.

    Identifying this negative pattern is one of the benefits of couples counseling. A couples counselor can help you understand this deeper dynamic. I’ve started the process for you, take the Relationship Quiz below (in footer) and read the custom emails related to your style.

    5). Understand how to get out of those dynamics.

    A simple, but not easy way to get out of an argument or conflict is by requesting appropriate space or a time out.

    Because as you know, if we’re really upset or angry and we interact in that state, everything we say or do we’re going to have to apologize for later.

    A time out or appropriate space is a good way to make it so there’s less to apologize for.

    6). Know how to prevent disharmony and do it.

    It’s important to know what you can do on your side to prevent disharmony. One way is to know how to take care of your attachment reflexes while being relational.

    For example, if you have a reflex for space, you take appropriate space – saying you need some time and sharing when you’ll be back.

    On the other side, if you desire more connection, request it, and share how not getting it makes you feel. Don’t demand connection or else it will have the opposite effect.

    Repair

    7). Give A+ apologies

    No one is perfect and you’re going to have to apologize for something you do in your relationship.

    Here’s an A+ apology:

    • Acknowledge what you did. E.g., “I sorry I did ____.”
    • Convey how it felt for you partner. E.g., “I imagine that must’ve felt ____ (horrible, frustrating, etc.).”
    • Share your plan on how you will avoid the action in the future. E.g., “I’m really working on avoiding this.”

    8). Vulnerability

    Vulnerability is so important in relationships because it’s the basis of emotional intimacy.

    It can be used to repair because it gives something for your partner to connect to. (I wrote a blog specifically on this).

    Basically, you’re leading with an olive branch and not a sword. In the context of repair, being vulnerable is sharing what was below the anger.

    9). Use the Feedback Wheel.

    This is a communication tool where being a speaker and listener are two distinct, but equally important roles.

    When you speak using this tool, you speak from a centered place with the idea to help you partner make things better.

    As a listener, you practice active listening with the spirit to allow your partner to be really heard.

    It’s not easy practicing this, and often couples need support and practice doing so.

    10). Know your partner is generally trying their best.

    What I mean by that is we don’t wake up on a mission to upset our partner.

    For example, I don’t have a notebook where I’ve listed all the ways I can annoy my wife, and I pick one every morning to work on.

    Generally, we’re operating automatically and we may inadvertently upset our partner.

    This doesn’t mean we don’t work on what our partner has asked from us. We do, but we also need to give some grace and find ways we can help our partner come through for us.

    If you do these, you’re be on the right track to fixing your relationship and you’ll find more time in Harmony and connection.

    1. ROBERT POLK

      ROBERT POLK

      January 24, 2023 at 3:56 pm -
      Reply

      This is very well done!

      1. Jason Polk

        Jason Polk

        January 24, 2023 at 7:41 pm -
        Reply

        Thank you Mr. Polk!!

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