Can you be too dependent on your partner? What if I told you that being dependent means you're in a healthy relationship?
We seem to intuitively know that building a bond takes intention and attention. You set aside time to date your partner, you take time to have a conversation, you keep phones away or on silent. You focus on your new love and limit distraction. You probably wouldn’t dream of talking on the phone or skimming your instagram feed on a first date. You don’t just get to build a bond with your partner, then sit back and coast. It’s a daily practice to nurture and maintain a relationship bond. Phones often gets in the way of the necessary attention to keep your relationship healthy! We're so busy paying attention to email and social media that we can inadvertently stop paying attention to the people in front of us. It’s easy to get lulled into comfort and complacency, but it’s that lack of connection and attunement that underlies a lot of conflict. So here's some practical tips to help maintain that connection and limit some conflict by putting away your phones.
1. Make mealtimes phone-free times. This is good even if you're dining alone to practice mindful eating, but it’s especially important if you're with someone to use that time to connect, laugh, and share in the experience of the meal.
2. Establish a phone free schedule. I suggest turning off your phone/tablet/laptop the hour after you get home from work or the hour before bed. Use that time to talk and connect.
3. Add activities together that are incompatible with having phones out. This can be a walk in nature, playing tennis, sex, playing board games, etc. Do something together that encourages you to be present and connected and active.
Some parts of being in a relationship should be like being teammates. Let's examine some team dynamics that are worth considering:
- Teams practice. You may come in with skills but you spend time practicing and honing skills. If a teammate isn't improving or is getting worse, there is an attempt to help them improve. Feedback is given. Teammates don't just write off feedback, even if it is negative.
- Teams acknowledge complementary skills. Not everyone is the pitcher. Not everyone is the catcher. It's not necessarily that the requirements of different positions are always fair or even, but they acknowledge that they help each other and need each other's strengths to play well.
- Teams cheer each other on in success, share wins, console each other in loses.
- If your team mate has an off day, gets hurt, or plays poorly, you don't assume it's an attempt to hurt you or that it's your fault or that they are a bad human for being an imperfect player.
- Teams do bonding activities. Don't know how to bond with your partner? We can help with that.
Still struggling with creating a happy, healthy relationship? Contact us today and start improving your relationship tomorrow.
Time outs can be a great strategy to diffuse an escalating argument with your partner. But if you haven't tried this strategy, it can be ineffective or make things worse. In order to increase the odds that it works, try these tips.
1. Agree on the strategy ahead of time. Asking for space during a fight can trigger abandonment fears in your partner. They may continue to pursue out of fear and you may feel trapped or smothered and both of you feel more distressed. Talking about it ahead of time can help you lay ground rules and create a shared meaning and understanding that a break is meant to be a helpful tool not a destructive weapon.
2. Set a time to reconvene. Taking a break is meant to help you calm down so you can headdress the conflict with cooler heads. It's not a way to avoid a topic. Setting a time helps manage anxieties that both parties won't be heard or that a resolution won't be reached. People are more likely to disengage if they know they can reconnect later.
3. Don't use the break to rehearse your zingers or low blows or to remind yourself how right you are or how wrong they are. Instead, use time to calm down, and come back to goals and values. I suggest doing deep breathing. If you're not breathing calmly, you can't talk calmly.
Having a healthy relationship takes work. It never stops taking work. That doesn't mean it has to be difficult or a daily grind, far from it. But it needs daily attention, care and love or it will suffer. I promise. I see and hear about it every day.
I had a couple in today who I haven’t seen in about 2 years. They were in a good place, both putting in the effort. Life went on, they got back into their routines, sank back into bad habits and you can guess the rest. The good news is that they already know what they need to be doing. They ignored the habits they learned and quickly began blaming the other person and the defensiveness was back in full force.
In order to get these two back on track we have to brush the cobwebs off and unearth the love. They came in highly critical and full of contempt, but they both softened by the end. It feels so bad for them right now because the fear of abandonment, perceived or real, iis masked by anger and resentment. It’s much easier to be pissed off then to enter a place of vulnerability and tenderness. Learning how to be safe in your relationship again will take a bit of time and effort. The point is that when you are not paying attention to your relationship, it will wither and eventually die if not tended to appropriately.
If you need to brush off some cobwebs, we will help you through that process. Give us a call today and get back on track ASAP.