Do you recall how it was when you first met each other? Those were the “days of wine and roses”. Everything was loving, exciting to be together, fun. Whatever irritations came up were easily excused and he/she was given the benefit of the doubt. The focus was on how wonderful he/she was and only positives were the rule. Then reality set in over the time together. The “irritants” multiplied and became more difficult to overlook. More discontent and negatives were the rule with less positives experienced in the relationship. Sometimes there is even a consideration of ending the relationship entirely. There is hope in bringing back that loving feeling you had in the very beginning. The difference is that now you have to do it more consciously with intention. In the beginning it happened naturally without any effort. But try this with your partner. It works!
5 to 1 Rule
For every negative statement there should be 5 positive statements. Negative statements include complaints, criticisms, judgments, blaming, accusations, verbally attacking, resentments all directed at your partner. Positive statements include compliments, affirmations, appreciation, gratitude, acknowledgment, recognition, affection, support, encouragement. This should be practiced daily. At the end of the day make a point of sharing some positives with your partner. Offering positives does not need to be done all at once but throughout the day as it occurs to you.
Behavior Change REQUEST
(Note: I emphasized the word “request” because this is the attitude to be taken with this exercise. This is a request or invitation to your partner to willingly engage in changing his/her behavior for your benefit which enhances the relationship.) The purpose is to educate yourself about your partners needs and taking the opportunity to change your behavior in order to offer meeting those needs as a gift to your partner. This is not about trying to change your partners behavior! Each of you take a turn. When the request is made the other one needs to seriously consider if that change in behavior is something that can be done with a willingness to do so. If so, you agree to work on offering that behavior. If the answer is “no”, find another way to demonstrate what you are requesting from your partner that would be more doable for him/her to offer you. Make an agreement of a time to work on these changes. It could be a few days, a week or even a month. At the end of that agreed upon time frame, have a conversation about your experience in making these changes that you agreed to do and the status of your relationship as a result of this exercise. Identify your “desires” (or issues) that tend to be repetitive and evoke feelings such as anger, frustration, hurt, fear, resentment, disappointment, etc. State the desire in a more positive way including how having that desire met would make you feel. Try to offer something specific that would demonstrate the need that you are asking for from your partner.
Example: “Stop being mean to me.”
Restate this differently, for example: “I would like you to speak to me with a softer tone of voice and become be more affectionate. I would then feel closer to you.”