Terry Real is an innovative family therapist and author of books about relationships, including “The New Rules of Marriage”. In that book he gives 5 ways to weaken relationships, and 5 ways to strengthen them. Here is a look at part of what the book has to offer.
5 ways to weaken a relationship
- Need to be right: needing to be right leads to endless arguments about who is more valid, who is correct. It promotes self righteous indignation and results in fighting. Do you want to be right or be married?
- Control your partner: directly controlling your partner or using manipulation or coercion may get some benefits for a bit, but people do not like to be controlled and will respond negatively -possible by “getting you back”.
- Uncontrolled self expression: thinking that you have a “right” to share whatever you are feeling whenever you want, with no thought for the circumstances, rarely results in closeness (at one time there were psychologists promoting the idea that we should “let it all out”, this quickly resulted in worsening relationships).
- Retaliation: think you can offend your partner because you were a victim? trying to “show them how it feels”? Either using outright aggression or passive aggression will not get you closer or create a loving relationship
- Withdrawal: coming from resignation or a way to retaliate ( as opposed to creating a little distance), this can look like you are accepting something you are not accepting.
5 ways to strengthen a relationship
- Make a request rather than a complaint: this is forward looking whereas a complaint focuses on the past.It brings the focus to what you want to have happen, and being specific helps.
- Speak with love: before you speak, give yourself a moment to connect with your feelings of love for your partner in order to repair problems. Say what you saw, thought, felt, would like, and let go of the outcome.
- Be generous: listen in order to understand the other person, acknowledge what they have to say and agree with what you can agree with-even if it is something small. Give what you can.
- Empower your partner: see what they give as a gift and acknowledge it, ask how you can help, accept what you can and give what you can.
- Cherish: give time and energy to the relationship , give specific feedback, use your own talents, give to the world.