Pop advice from the media is idealized and detrimental, not the answer to how to save a relationship.
If you and your partner learn spiels and pat phrases, your personal transformation is not coming from an authentic place within you. Refrain from learning how to use certain expressions just to get your way, such as “it would mean so much to me” or “I so appreciate you” unless you really mean what you are saying and are asking for nothing in return. Your partner knows the difference. You do, too.
You want and need to hear from your partner that you are sexy and a good person. You want and need to tell your partner that you’re grateful to him or her for cooking dinner or being the breadwinner. But to reiterate by rote your appreciation for one another, which relationship experts often advise couples to do, quickly becomes artificial.
When you feel positive about yourself, you won’t care that much that your partner pays you compliments. What you think about yourself is always more important than what your partner thinks of you anyway
At times you will be critical, be condescending, on the offense, and on the defense. Try to step back and instead of implementing the quick fix band-aid of communication techniques, use your creativity to be more constructive rather than destructive.
Couples will never always say the right thing at the right time. Actually, if they do, that’s a telltale sign that something is wrong, that they have become automatons and are not in touch with who they are. Aspiring to be a storybook archetype isn’t that satisfying in the end.
Humans are three-dimensional and infinitely complex. Learning relationship technique scripts demean you and your partner. You’re not living a play on a stage. You’re living your life, which is unpredictable, messy, and full of possibilities. Being human, being yourself is how to save your relationship.
Use this sentence completion: “I would like my partner to… ”
What do you really want from your partner? When I did this exercise with my students, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t want my husband to be or do anything other than be himself. That realization was liberating for him and for me, and I forgot that I wanted him to put down the toilet seat. It just didn’t matter that much anymore.
Are you only saying “the right thing” to your partner to get what you want? Cathy Thorne’s marriage cartoon depicts this scenario to perfection.
Bob Engel says
I was thinking about this very topic just the day before finding your blog. I really appreciate your comments on the need to be authentic. Couples will say to me “we want to work on communication” as if what they lacked was information and a system to convey it. What is really needed is more like “communion” not communication, deep connection, not information.
Thanks, Bob for your comment. Couples already communicate very well. You are right when you said that what they are searching for is deep intimacy and connection.