Relationship Repair Manual
Many relationships and marriages break down over time. Just like a fine piece of machinery, even the best relationships need maintenance and repair. The following repair methods have been carefully tested and researched. When applied consistently over time, they have been proven to work quite well.
Here are three common problems you may experience in your marriage or relationship, and some helpful hints and tools you can use:
Is there too much conflict in your relationship? All couples argue, but sometimes the fights become frequent, nasty, and noisy. Have you noticed a pattern of attack, defend, and counterattack?
- Replace The Starter – The fighting often starts with a complaint, accusation or sarcastic comment. The tone is often negative and uncaring. Try using love, affection and humor. Invite – don’t demand or criticize (for example, instead of “You never…”, try “Honey, would you be willing to…”). Remember, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
- Deactivate Your Reactor – Almost all fights involve overreacting to your partner. Sure, you’re upset and angry, but reacting in this way simply leads to more fighting. Assume that your partner loves you and wants a loving, supportive relationship just as much as you do (I’m assuming that’s why you came together in the first place!). Replace your reactor (defensiveness, blaming, hurt victim) with forgiveness, acceptance, understanding, and conflict resolution.
- Use An Adult Repair Person – When you’re feeling this angry during a fight, when you’re reacting with blame and counterattacks, how old are you? What does that Child or Teenager really need? Put the Adult in charge. Have your Adult take care of your Inner Child or Teenager. Use your Adult self to practice empathy, understanding, forgiveness, and productive problem solving with your partner.
Is there too much distance in your relationship? Do your fights turn into a silent no man’s land? Have you “grown apart”? Has the affection, attention, and connection diminished or disappeared?
- Reassemble The Parts – Go back to the beginning. What brought you together? Talk about this with your partner. Make lists of what you liked and loved about each other. What you liked to do together. Make regular dates. We all get too busy, and we forget to tend our gardens. Stay connected to your partner: practice acts of love every day, with affection, love notes, showing interest in their daily activities, listening to their stories.
- Conflict – Surprised? When the distance in your relationship contains problems and conflicts that are not being addressed, roll back the rug and talk about what you’ve been sweeping under it. You might start by each of you making a list of topics you’re reluctant to discuss. Set aside time to discuss one topic at a time, with a commitment to using empathy, understanding, and compromise.
- Ask An Adult For Help – How old are you when you shut down and distance in this relationship? What does that Child or Teenager need? Put the Adult in charge. Speak your truth with your partner, and remember that the Adult does this with love and active caring for that person. Have your Adult practice acts of love, kindness, and generosity every day.
Are there conflicts in your relationship that you cannot resolve? Do you and your partner have polarized positions, with no give or compromise? Common stuck points include conflicts about money, in-laws, sex, chores, and the kids.
- Acceptance – Recognize and accept the fact that, most likely, there will always be conflict in this area. It is unlikely that one of you will do a 180 and completely change your point of view or position on such an important issue.
- Understanding and Empathy – Open the lines of communication – find out why your partner feels so strongly about that position. Express understanding and an attitude of caring and respect for your partner’s position. Take turns, so that both of you are speaking your truth, and being heard and supported by the other.
- Compromise – Would you rather be right or happy? Rigid, unyielding positions will not make you happy. You may be right (you know you are), but what are your results? Listen to your partner. Appreciate their point of view, and allow yourself to be influenced. Find the middle ground, and be willing to give up a position that really doesn’t work in this relationship.