In the past, I’ve spent the limited time my partner and I had together, fighting.
Something would come up, I’d get triggered, and I’d start to go on a rampage about what wasn’t working, or how he’d hurt me, or how our relationship was clearly over. Soon enough, the plans for our weekend would be ruined, and we’d both stomp off in a tizzy.
After many hours on a therapists couch for couples counseling, I’ve learned three important skills for communicating, maintaining healthy boundaries, and giving up spending precious time together processing.
These may not work for everyone, but if you don’t have great skills in relationship, and you spend time with your partner fighting, angry, or upset over the same old things, then perhaps these three simple tools can make a difference for you.
Three Things You Can Do to Turn Your Relationship Around:
1. Two minute share
In this exercise, you take two minutes to share what is on your mind. When time’s up, the partner listening says nothing but, “Thank you” and offers a hug. Then, you switch.
2. Put it in the box
After you’ve shared your feelings, put it in the box until you can see a counselor or therapist, and don’t talk about it again. This allows you to enjoy your time together and to not process and get on your negative infinity loop, where you both go back and forth, triggered, acting out your main argument.
This single thing has made such a difference for me in my relating. I realize I can speak for two minutes, and then put it away and actually go on to have an enjoyable weekend with my partner, even though there may be a big issue to work out. I never knew I had such control.
Every day, share appreciations with your partner. Set a time that works for both of you, do it face to face, on the phone, or via text. Just share three things you appreciate about your partner and then switch.
- First is something physical that you appreciate
- Second is something about who they are in the world
- Third is something specific that they’ve done for you
Learning to have communication skills in relationship takes something. We have to respect our partner’s boundaries, ask first if now is a good time to talk, and be willing to voice our upset or concerns, without having it ruin our time together.
Managing our emotions in such a way that we can voice our concerns and our needs and desires, but we don’t violate our partner’s boundaries at inappropriate times, is vital to healthy relating.
Next time you’re upset, try it out. Ask if now is a good time. (If it’s not, respect that boundary and pick a time in the next 24 hours). If it is a good time, take two minutes to share and then see if you can put it in a box.
If it’s something that really needs to be unpacked, and you don’t seem to have the skills, get help! Don’t go it alone, or else you’ll just end up on what’s called an infinity loop, and you’ll repeat your same old fight over and over.
To your healthy heart,