Decades of research on marriages have shown that kindness (combined with emotional intelligence) is the most important factor in a happy marriage. Kindness is like a muscle that becomes stronger when exercised. Make an effort to engage in daily acts of small kindnesses, which will add up to a cumulative effect of thoughtfulness and consideration in your relationship.
We all get stressed out by the demands of daily life and take our irritability and frustration out on our partners. That’s part of being human. And part of being in a day-in-day-out marriage or intimate partnership. The way to keep those little hurts from turning into ongoing relationship resentments is to make a repair. Own your mistakes and say you’re sorry.
Make an Effort to be Emotionally Attuned
What’s your partner’s mood as she comes home from work? If it’s been a tough day does she need to sit and talk, or does she prefer some quiet time alone? Being able to read your significant other’s emotions and responding accordingly is part of being emotionally intelligent. Furthermore, knowing how you can soothe your partner is crucial. Some people need their loved one to regulate them, such as needing a hug or extra cuddling, others prefer to self-regulate by getting time to themselves.
State your Feelings and Needs
I love one of the basic techniques of Non-Violent Communication: “I’m feeling__________ and I’m needing__________.” For example: “I feel stressed out from work and I need some time alone. Would that be ok?” This technique works best when spoken using the I-position. Get in touch with what you’re feeling and needing, and make a request of your loved one. Try to avoid statements that put blame or pressure on your partner. For example: “You’ve made me annoyed and I need you to leave me alone,” are unlikely to be effective, and may in fact ratchet up the level of distress in your relationship, instead of soothing and calming the two of you.
Finally, be gentle on yourself and your significant other. Though these techniques are straightforward they are by no means easy to implement and maintain. If you and your partner have developed unhealthy relationship patterns over several years, you may need couples therapy to help you get unstuck. Don’t hesitate to get help when you need it.
Katrina Taylor, LMFT-Associate. 512-270-9002
Disclaimer: The content provided here is intended for informational purposes only. Reading articles and content on this website does not constitute a therapeutic relationship.