Change is possible in any relationship, but it requires dedication and persistence. As you go about finding a good marriage counselor this relationship advice may lead the way.
1. Stop all forms of blaming, shaming, or criticizing your partner.
Criticism is the adult version of crying, our natural, built-in distress signal that we once used to get our parents' attention. As adults, our infantile shrieking comes out as words and we believe that causing our partners with pain will get them to meet our needs. In reality, when you inflict pain on your partner, you make it more difficult for them to stretch and accommodate your needs.
2. Don't wait for your partner to guess what you need.
This worked for us as infants. Our parents responded to our cries and intuited what we needed. This is the definition of an unconscious relationship. You won't get what you really need from your partner unless you are willing to move into a conscious relationship; one in which you say what you need without inflicting pain on your partner.
3. Do 3-5 caring behaviors for your partner every day with no strings attached.
When you first fell in love you were probably doing dozens of caring behaviors each day for each other. Gradually, as our idealized image of our partner is replaced with reality, we perform fewer and fewer caring behaviors. If left in a relationship devoid of caring behaviors, we find other things or people to give us pleasure, making an emotional separation that often develops into real separation. You can change this. Start remembering what your partner likes, and start doing it. If you can't remember, ask!
4. Close all exits.
You open an exit in your relationship when, instead of telling your partner what you need, you withdraw or put your energy somewhere else. The relationship won't get better until you put your energy back within its bounds. There are an infinite variety of exits, but common ones are affairs, friendships, work, religion, children, alcohol/drugs and hobbies. Discuss with your partner how you can gradually commit to close your exits together.
5. Know thyself.
Your partner may be pushing your buttons, but how did your buttons get there in the first place? No matter how much you may think that other people in your position would be hurt by what your partner does, this thinking only diminishes your power. Take ownership of the way your unique experiences in life have left you hurt and reactive to certain things your partner does. Admitting that you are sensitive in some areas will necessarily induce you to become articulate about what you need, rather than expecting someone else to figure it out for you.
-Adapted from Keith Miller, LICSW “Ten things you can do to improve your relationship” www.keithmillercounseling.com
In our efforts to bring value to your life, or if you are not in the Chicago area, Couples Counseling Associates has developed a series of lessons that could have a major impact on effectively improving your relationship. We encourage you to dive into the series and discover how these resources can benefit you and your partner.
Remember, it's the positive habits we develop that guarantee us success in all areas of our lives. Discover the seven healthy habits that improve relationships or get in touch with us to learn more about Couples Counseling Associates.
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Also in Arlington Heights
Associated Therapist Giulia Casani MA,LMFT
Kate Engler, LMFT, LPC
All the mental health professionals practicing at 737 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 2130, Chicago, IL 60611 or any other locations, are individually licensed by the State of Illinois and practice independently and separately. They have no legal relationship to the practices of each other and do not incur in liability for services of one another or to Dr. Sara Schwarzbaum.