Learning to be diplomatic in loveYou may not have the kind of marriage country singers croon about, but you can if you treat your partner like a best friend and your problems as challenges requiring gentle diplomacy. Here are a few tips for a successful union.
Complain constructivelyDo happily married couples grumble about each other You bet they do. When a spouse is angry and complaining, we feel threatened on a deep level by the one person on whom we depend. Solution: Rather than stockpiling grievances and resentment, deal with problems immediately using clear and specific language. Keep your cool and describe the issue as you see it, but avoid sweeping statements.
Share your concernsYou've heard about the elephant in the living room: big issues that are impossible to ignore, like a massive mammal. Men avoid issues by dismissing them while women fret.
Solution:Don't be secretive about how you feel, if you swallow your feelings, you lose intimacy. Set aside time to discuss the problem and lay some ground rules. One talks while the other listens.
Break the cycleCriticism is a lonely creature, but sometimes it shares a bed with defensiveness and contempt. Before long, you've got a problem of biblical proportions.
Solution:State your problem neutrally, without criticizing, insulting or digging up old bones. Tell your partner what you need rather than what you don't. When he responds, don't be defensive but listen carefully and ask open-ended questions. Finally, thank him for listening Support each otherFirst, there was a little black cloud. Then, the taciturn stranger moved in. Where did your happy spouse go Solution: Listen compassionately, find support for both of you and leave counselling to the professionals. If your glum spouse becomes angry or critical of you, remember it's the gloom-and-doom talking and remind him of your needs.
Communicate with clarityYou don't ask your partner for much. Empty the dishwasher, maybe clean out the garage, right Right! No one wants to nag. But if your partner isn't responding and you can't get through any other way, you do it. And the more you do, the more he digs in his heels.
Solution:Get his focused attention, then let him know in neutral language what you need and when you need it done. Each of you should try to remain open to each other's ideas and to compromise. If he can't do as you ask immediately, for example, at least secure his good intentions for the future.
Calm your anger, irritation or fury - call it what you will. Regardless of whether anger is directed at you or you've got your own issues to burn, it can be painful, nerve-racking and disruptive for all involved.
Solution: Calm down, take a step back and recast your indignant anger into personal. Anger is natural, says Neufeld, but it can be damaging if it eclipses love. Talking about frustration instead of anger. Express how something upset you, how it didn't work for you.
Take time togetherForget Happy Families. These days, it's more like Busy Kids and Exhausted Parents. Once the kids arrive, it feels as if your entire life is booked.
Solution: Start with a date night, such as a walk through the park or a beer at the pub. Practise turning toward your partner when he makes a bid for connection. If you're feeling out of sorts after a bad day and he brings you a glass of wine, for example, don't stay silent or point out that you didn't want it. Accept the gesture, smile graciously and say thanks.
Appreciate your differencesYou wait for sales; he buys on impulse. You tidy-as-you-go; he prefers the science-experiment approach to housekeeping. Both are ongoing issues that, despite efforts to renovate each other, just won't go away.
Solution:Happy couples openly discuss their ongoing points of dispute, thereby making them more manageable. Make dialogue rather than problem-solving your goal, remembering that the issue - not your partner - is the problem. There are no right and wrong solutions.
Keep a mental list of qualities you admire in your spouse, whether it's his goofy sense of humour, his integrity or his manly forearms. Ask him to do the same for you.