Psychotherapist Dr. Erin Leonard offers three important ways to improve our relationship with our spouses. Watch the interview here.
1) Resolve Conflict productively
A) Do your best to understand your spouse’s perspective- even if it differs from your own. This does not mean you are surrendering your own perspective, but it allows you to be one step closer to figuring out a compromise.
B) Compromise. A fight should never end w a winner and a loser. This creates distance in the relationship. Distance in the relationship creates tension and resentment, which erode a relationship. Be open to compromise. Bend a little. Both people will be happy when conflict is resolved collaboratively.
2) Maintain Emotional Closeness in The Relationship
A) Emotional closeness not only brings about contentment and trust in the relationship, but it deepens the bond. Also, emotional closeness with someone keeps depression and anxiety at bay.
B) Accountability and Empathy are the two ingredients that make up emotional closeness.
C) Accountability- it takes two to tango, so own your part in the fight. Humans make mistakes. Take responsibility for it and say sorry. As long as the person desperately tries not to make the same mistake- there is accountability. If the same mistake is made repeatedly- the apology is just lip service.
3) Empathy– Putting yourself in your spouse’s shoes– set aside your own thoughts about the matter and try to understand how your spouse feels and why. Let them know you understand how they feel. Do not tell them they should not feel the way they do and do not try to solve their problem. Say things like, “you have every right to be hurt. I would be too if I were in your shoes.” Or: “You are so disappointed. I get it. You have every right to feel that way.”
Then, after acknowledging how they feel, ask, “What can I do to help?”
In 2016, love and love well. Be selfless and compassionate. The important things in life are not found in a store- they are our day to day in interactions w our spouses and children. Don’t buy more- love better.
Read Dr. Leonard’s book on Emotional Terrorism. Coming soon: Dr. Leonard’s book of Loving Well – The Key to Satisfying and Joyous Relationships.