relationships

The Platinum Rule: How to Enrich Your Intimate Relationships

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Platinum is a symbol of true love, purity, rarity, and strength. These qualities of platinum are equivalent to the ideals of eternal true love, something couples strive for in their relationships.

We all want to connect in our intimate relationships, yet most of us have difficulty holding ourselves back when partners voice their frustration. Most people respond either by offering words of reassurance, try to solve the problem, or worst offer constructive criticism.

If you use one of the methods above, you wouldn’t be surprised if I say your partner’s response is not the one you might have been expecting. Your “help” might have not have landed the way you expected or had the effect you intended. Most people respond by feeling more irritable or frustrated than they were before they even shared their concerns.  

Working with numerous couples struggling in their relationships, I’ve learned empathy towards one another works best to build on intimacy and get more out of the relationship. First, I ask couples to commit to empathy before they verbally engage. As a relational therapist I lead with empathy in the room and then ask couples to use the same method and see how the partners respond.

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Not that starting out with words of empathy, understanding and compassion will always work. There are times when nothing can. But particularly in troubling situations where the startup is likely to determine the outcome, there’s no safer way to open a discussion than seeking to genuinely “participate” in your partner’s state of mind. This is most effectively accomplished through accurately identifying with their feelings, whether they’ve been overtly stated or implied by language, facial expression, and tone of voice.

When your partner experiences that you’re sincerely making an effort to grasp where they’re coming from, the odds that they'll be more receptive to where you’re coming from. The strong desire to feel understood and non-judged increases emotional intimacy and connection in the relationship.

Healing  yourself  heals the relationship.

Healing yourself heals the relationship.

How to improve your relationship?

As a therapist working with couples I find that couples fights have similar themes. Some of the issues coming to surface is money, chores, sex, parenting styles, and communication issues about all of the above. In general, people get tired of the same fights and I believe their intentions are to really improve their relationships. In my experience, when each person in the relationship is willing to address the underlying feelings that contribute to these arguments, progress can be made. We all get so upset that our partner spent too much money, didn’t pay enough attention to us, or slacked on the household chores that we sometimes stop doing the most important thing: listening.

Some of most important aspect of a successful relationship is respect for and attention to your partner’s feelings. It is important to not be distracted when your partner is hurting and address their needs. Awareness and understanding what your partner is experiencing can help bringing collaborate support into your relationship. However, the partner sharing their feelings and needs has a critical job. If you criticize, blame, or accuse your partner as you express what you are feeling, it is hard for your partner to listen.

According to research, many couples start to come apart seven years after the wedding because our culture doesn’t teach us how to maintain and strengthen our emotional bonds. That’s where The Gottman Institute (relationship expert) comes in. The seven ideas below, drawn from four decades of real science, will make your love last a lifetime.

1. Seek help early.
The average couple waits six years before seeking help for relationship problems. And keep in mind, half of all marriages that end do so in the first seven years. This means the average couple lives with unhappiness for far too long. If you feel there’s any sign of trouble in your marriage early on, seek help.

2. Edit yourself.
The most successful couples are kind to each other. They avoid saying every critical thought when discussing touchy topics, and they will find ways to express their needs and concerns respectfully without criticizing or blaming their partners. 

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 3. Soften your “start up.”
Arguments often “start up” because one partner escalates the conflict by making a critical or contemptuous remark. Bringing up problems gently and without blame works much better and allows couples to calmly engage in conflict.

4. Have high standards.
Happy couples have high standarts for each other. The most successful couples are those who, even as newlyweds, refused to accept hurtful behavior from one another. Low levels of tolerance for bad behavior in the beginning of a relationship equals a happier couple down the road.

5. Learn to repair and exit the argument.
Happy couples have learned how to exit an argument, or how to repair the situation before an argument gets completely out of control. Examples such as: using humor; offering a caring remark (“I understand that this is hard for you”); making it clear you’re on common ground (“We’ll tackle this problem together”); and, in general, offering signs of appreciation for your partner and their feelings along the way.

If an argument gets too heated, take a 20-minute break, and agree to approach the topic again when you are both calm.

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6. Focus on the positives.
In a happy marriage, while discussing problems, couples make at least five as many positive comments to and about each other and their relationship as negative ones. For example, a happy couple will say “We laugh a lot” instead of “We never have any fun.” A good marriage must have a rich climate of positivity. Make regular deposits to your emotional back accounts.  

As Dr. Gottman says, “Everything Positive you do in a relationship is foreplay.” If you are having problems in your relationship, try looking for positive ways to engage your partner. Even if there is conflict, making a kind remark, or a thoughtful gesture can go a long way if your relationship is stuck in a rut.

How to Deal with Anxiety and Relationship Problems

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There is a wealth of information about anxiety and how it impacts emotional, psychological, and physical health. Anxiety can cause the person to feel overwhelmed, panicked, and a general sense of unease. These symptoms can affect not only your well-being but it can take over many other areas of your life such as work, family members, friends, and your intimate relationship. Are you feeling stressed on your relationship or contemplating ending it? If so, anxiety may be playing a role on putting your relationship at risk.

 

1.     Anxiety destroys trust and connection

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, worried about your recent argument, or trying to “fix” things as soon as possible you might not have time to notice on what is happening in the now. The fear and worries can cause you to be less attuned to your needs and your partner’s needs. The inability to be present in the moment can muddle your insight and awareness on how to take care of yourself and the relationship. When we ruminate about problems in a state of chaos we feed the anxiety.

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Shift your focus on being instead of doing. It is difficult to listen to your thoughts & physical signs when you are not slowed down. Pause, think, and feel, instead of assuming and letting your anxious thoughts take over. Help yourself find the evidence before you jump into conclusions. Once you’re in a calmer place, you can start to share openly with your partner on what happens to you when you’re feeling worried. Be intentional about building trust and connection by reaching out to your partner: be vulnerable, help your partner understand what anxiety feels and looks like. Instead of attacking or withdrawing strive to deepen your connection with your partner.

 

2.     Anxiety fogs your brain

Asking someone to share what they are feeling in a state panic, is easier said than done. Anxious people find it extremely difficult to give themselves or partner attention or space that is needed. In the heightened state of anxiety, some might try to avoid it while others believe “fixing the problem” immediately.

Taking a short break can be beneficial for you and your relationship. Resisting your feelings can feed and intensify anxiety, therefore acknowledging them can ease some of the tension you might experience. Approach a conversation with partner with kindness, and discuss some of the thoughts or fears that drain your energy.

3. Anxiety is the enemy of self-compassion

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Because anxiety brings an overactive fear response, ruminating about it may leave you with very little time to practice self-care. Some anxiety is healthy for everyone. However, if your anxiety causes you to reject/avoid things that are beneficial for you, it can create more suffering for you and your relationship. Could it be that the anxiety is real but not true?

Quite your mind to hear your own wisdom. Anxiety rubs people of joy. Practicing being with your uncomfortable thoughts, pausing, and listening to your anxiety might be just what you need to remove those invisible chains your anxiety creates. The deepest gift we can give ourselves is the quality of non-doing presence. So…. notice your anxiety, and come back to it with a lot of kindness. Intentionally turn your attention to whatever opens your heart by looking for what you love and practice. Practice being present for yourself and your partner and then practice some more and remember- where attention goes energy flows.