11 Ways to Get the Relationship You Always Wanted

  1. Avoid what John Gottman calls The Four Horsemen: Criticism, Contempt (i.e. sarcasm, eye rolling), Defensiveness, Stonewalling (e.g. emotional cut off)
  2. Avoid blame. Take responsibility for your own thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
  3. Focus on the positives. We can easily become overwhelmed with the negative in a relationship which then causes us to respond negatively. Even in the midst of a difficult situation, there are still positives. Change only happens when you focus on the positives.
  4. Affirm your partner daily. Tell your partner the things you appreciate about who they are and what they do.
  5. Learn to speak each other’s Love Languages. Chapman says there are 5 main love languages: Physical touch; Quality time; Words of affirmation; Acts of service; and Gifts.  It is important that you speak your partner’s love language, in other words, the way your partner receives love is the way you need to express love to him or her.
  6. Choose your partner each day. Every day when you wake up, you need to choose to love that person today. Take steps daily to increase closeness and intimacy. Choose to turn towards your partner rather than away (withdrawing).
  7. Soften your position. It is vital to learn how to soothe yourself in a relationship. When you are involved in a heated discussion and believe you are right and are entrenched in your position, you create a barrier between you and your partner. Learn to calm yourself, and try and place yourself in the other’s shoes.
  8. Make your relationship a safe place. We have a responsibility to open up to our partners, but we also have a responsibility to make it safe for the other to open up. Choose to invite the other person to open up by maintaining a soft and welcoming position.
  9. Develop your friendship and make time for one another. People change on a daily basis, so continue to get to know your partner. Show that your partner is important to you; spend intentional time with one another.
  10. Learn to care for your self. By caring for your self you will express your needs to your partner, you will set healthy boundaries, you will be able to soothe yourself, your level of tolerance will remain stable, you will have healthy ways to manage your physical and emotional stress, and you will have a better relationship.
  11. According to Dr. Sue Johnson (“Hold Me Tight”) couples can create a secure bond by reaching for each other (taking emotional risks through vulnerability) and being emotionally responsive to each other.

Ellis Nicolson+associates have expertise in marital, couple, family and indiviudal counselling.  To book an appointment call 416-358-0290 or email ellis [at] ellisnicolson.com