I have worked with several couples who seek out therapy due to several issues, such as: communication, lack of intimacy, conflict resolution, and even infidelity. Though there are several effective ways to approach each of these, the common factor lies in the couple’s connection and commitment to one another. Each relationship is unique, as all individuals have different lifestyles, values, and experiences; however, the problems couples experience and transitional stages are common among many relationships. Life is unpredictable and can certainly put your most valuable relationship to the test.
“Your relationship with your spouse or partner is most important.”
When I married my husband, I was told that this new relationship is now my most valuable one. I was caught off-guard at first because I value all of my relationships. But overtime, I realized how this made sense. When you are married or in a committed relationship, your partner instantly becomes your primary source of support and stability. They are the ones you are likely to turn to when you experience high stress or life challenges. They are who we spend the most time with and are therefore a key influence to our own happiness.
However, what do you do when your partner is unable to support you in the way you need? What happens when your relationship becomes stressful and requires “hard work” and effort? Well, the important factor is to communicate. However, this may be difficult “in the heat of the moment,” when couples experience hurt or even resentment. One option to consider is to take a step back and re-approach the problem when both partners have had some time to “cool off.”
When the time is right, it may helpful to implement some of the suggestions listed below. Not only can these small gestures help solve ongoing problems, they may also help strengthen the intimate bond and connection between two people who ultimately want the same goal. In addition to this, these suggestions have shown to be helpful in many of my own clients, who have shared the specific changes that have helped them overcome even the toughest times in their relationship:
1. Listen openly and reserve defenses. Respect one another’s points of view and perspective, even if you don’t agree with them. Acceptance and understanding are important in moving forward in any relationship.
2. Utilize empathy and validation. Everyone wants to feel heard-especially by the people who matter most to them. This makes us feel “we are not alone” in our struggles and the meanings being our emotions are clearly understood.
3. Respond genuinely. It is always best to be honest, especially when having difficult conversations with your spouse or partner. Trust and Intimacy are built on honesty and genuine connection.
4. Be mindful of your words as well as your tone. When communicating, simply raise your personal awareness to how you respond. Remember the true intention of the messages you would like to convey and think of how your messages can be interpreted.
5. It never hurts to share your appreciation. When you recognize your partner is making significant progress and positive changes within your relationship-let them know. It can be motivating when one hears that their efforts are not only recognized but valued as well.
Dr. Lori Lundin-Fish, Ph.D., LMFT
Palm Beach Therapy Center, LLC.
3200 N Federal Highway Suite 206-14
Boca Raton, FL 33431