Happy Wednesday, everyone!! Those of you who have followed me on social media over the years know that when it comes to mine and Justin’s relationship, I am pretty much an open book. I share everything from the highs and lows of our relationship here on the blog but I also like to speak to them on some podcasts too! Speaking of podcasts, you can check out mine and Justin’s most recent episodes on the What Day Is It? podcast here! We spill a lot of details about our relationship there! LOL!
A few months ago, I welcomed our couples counsellor, Sig Taylor, to the blog. He shared 5 losing strategies that damage intimate relationships and today he is back with 5 winning strategies that you can implement in your relationship ASAP!
So, without further adieu, take it away Sig!!
Hi everyone. My name is Sig Taylor. I’m an online couples counsellor. Today I’m discussing the 5 winning strategies that can help prevent conflict and relationship distress. Implement these 5 simple winning strategies into your relationship, and you will save yourself from pointless arguments.
Let’s dive in!
1. Practice Relational Mindfulness
Learn how to interrupt knee-jerk reactive habits. You’re having a nice day and your partner disagrees or disapproves of something you say. In an instant you’re triggered and your nice day goes sideways. It’s these “small moments” that are gateways to the 5 losing strategies I talked about in my previous blog.
It all starts with a “whoosh,” an energetic sensation that arises in the lower the part of the body and moves up through the abdomen and into our chest, neck and face. It happens fast. Our brain chemistry changes, heartbeat, and blood pressure increase. Before you know it, you’re in fight or flight mode. You can’t think straight.
Here’s how to change this:
- STOP! Don’t say anything.
Think of it as an inner alarm bell. Warning! There’s danger ahead. Literally keep your mouth closed. You can’t speak if you don’t open your mouth!
- BREATHE. This calms you down, so you can…
- THINK. Straight.
At first it’s not natural. It takes practice.
2. Shift from Complaint to Request
We all want to get our needs met. We’re not good at it. Ask for what you want.
“If you love me, you should know what I want. If I have to ask, it doesn’t count.”
Sound familiar? This is a LOVE KNOT, a common trap that guarantees you won’t get what you want. Instead you feel resentful.
Here’s how to shift. Let’s say you want more quality time together. Losing strategy (complaint): “You never spend time with me, you’re always on your phone, you just don’t care!” Winning strategy (request): “I’ve been feeling lonely lately and I really miss you. I’d love to spend some time with you this week.”
3. Practice Healthy Self Esteem
Most of us base our self-esteem and self-worth on external criteria – comparing ourselves to others, how much money we have, our car, house, what we imagine others think of us, etc. We either feel contempt for ourselves, SHAME (feeling worthless, less than) or GRANDIOSITY, contempt for others (feeling better than).
Healthy self-esteem is knowing you have inherent value, despite being an imperfect human being. Terry Real offers a powerful affirmation for this.
“Even though I’m not perfect and I make mistakes, I still hold myself in warm regard.”
I suggest you put this affirmation somewhere where you see it every day.
4. Practice Healthy Boundaries
Psychological boundaries are about protection. Think of an orange peel. The outer skin protects you from other people and the inner skin protects other people from you.
Protective boundary (outer skin). When your partner says something negative or critical.
- Is it true?
- Do I trust this person right now?
If there’s truth in it and you trust this person, let it in. Let yourself feel it. If not, don’t. You’re protected behind your boundary.
Containment boundary (inner skin). When you’re about to say something negative or critical.
- How is this person going to receive this?
- Is this the right time to bring this up?
Think before you speak.
5. Stay Connected
It’s easy to drift apart and avoid emotional vulnerability. We get superficial.
Set aside 30 minutes each week to connect with your partner. No devices, kids, distractions. Remember to make gentle eye contact. And don’t forget to breathe! A few conversation ideas include:
Wishes, hopes and dreams
Well, there you have it! 5 winning strategies that I often share with couples to help improve conversation and avoid pointless arguments.
Until next time!
* Adapted from Relational Life Therapy (RLT)
** Adapted from Virginia Satir