Relationship Skills used by Happy Couples

Man And Woman Breathing

Relationship Skills used by Happy Couples

Have you ever looked at what you thought were the perfect couple and thought, “I want to be like them.” Well it isn’t fate or happenstance. Good relationships have certain qualities in them. They don’t come prepackaged. Anyone can practice them, and indeed should. Here are relationship skills used by happy couples. The first one is empathy.

Sympathy is knowing how someone else feels and showing compassion for them. Empathy is really feeling what they feel, knowing how they feel and showing compassion. Don’t assume you know how they feel outright. Our assumptions without the benefit of reflection are usually wrong and may anger or hurt our partner.  You don’t have to have lived through the same thing. Use your imagination and walk a mile in their moccasins. Close your eyes and feel what it is like to be in their position. What are their concerns, priorities, responsibilities and actions? What did they expect and what occurred instead? Once you understand their point of view intimately, from inside their head, then discuss things with them.

The next is called emotional validation. When your sweetie is upset or angry, let them know that you understand how they’re feeling, and that they have every right to feel that way. Give them your concern and sympathy. You may think that they will be even more upset with you. The truth is they will likely calm down and be able to discuss things with you rationally and calmly. That’s because you’ve validated their emotions. Emotional validation is something we all need. When we feel upset, angry or frustrated we want our partner to understand why we feel how we do, and sympathize with us. When this happens we experience an emotional release from the tension we were feeling.

Lastly, use civility and consideration in your relationship to make it healthy and happy. Little gestures such as letting someone sleep in, flowers, a small token, a handwritten note, a compliment or a big hug can change the tone instantly. These things can decrease the intensity of an argument and give room for talking and working things out. Often couples get caught in a cycle of negativity. One gesture won’t change that. But if you develop a routine of civility and consideration you can change that cycle. It’s particularly powerful if both partners become committed in breaking a cycle of negativity and replace it with a positive one. For more advice read, Changing Behavior: Immediately Transform Your Relationships with Easy to Learn, Proven Communication Skills by Georgianna Donadio.

Your Romantic Style

ATTACHMENT-STYLE

Your Romantic Style

Lots of people don’t know their relationship style, but it affects almost every aspect of your romantic relationships from how you select a mate to how you break up. Your romantic style, or style of attachment as it’s called in psychology, can help you understand yourself better and how you relate to another in a relationship. If you come to understand your style of attachment you can see what positive and negative effects it has on your relationships. Initially, our style of attachment is formed in childhood. But it’s an outline. It develops over time. Our attachment style speaks to how we interpret our needs and go about getting them met. There are many different attachment styles. See which one fits you and other people you know.

The first is secure attachment. This type is secure in relationships. They saw their parents as a sanctuary which they could venture out from to explore their world. This type supports a distressed partner and feels connected and secure in their adult relationships. This is an honest relationship with openness and support. There is an equality of power shared in this model. They provide their partners with a true sense of safety and display real acts of love.

The next type is the anxious preoccupied style of attachment. This style feels insecure and constantly seeks validation from their partner. They want their partner to complete or save them. This is the needy type that clings to their significant other. The anxious preoccupied type are often victims of a self-induced vicious circle. Their insecurity leads to clingy behavior that drives their partner away, validating their “See s/he doesn’t really love me” feeling underlying it all.

The next type is dismissive avoidant attachment. These people need emotional distance from their partner. This type wants to appear independent. They may come off as self-absorbed and overly worried about their own comfort. This semi-independence is a mental fixation. But in reality they need to connect and bond just like everyone else. This person puts less importance on the relationship and in fact pushes their significant other away. This person can shut down emotionally if pushed to open up.

The last type is the fearful avoidant attachment style. This person doesn’t want to be too far nor too close to their partner. They try to put their feelings aside but can’t. These people have episodes where they are overcome by their own emotions. They can be moody, mixed up and unpredictable. They believe you need people to have your needs met, but if you let them get too close they’ll hurt you. To learn more about different romantic styles and how they impact relationships, read the book, Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build a Secure Relationship by Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT.

How does Someone Become Needy?

needy

How does Someone Become Needy?

Neediness isn’t good for a relationship. It lowers the person’s self-esteem and self-worth. It puts pressure on the relationship and ultimately pushes their lover away. The anxiety, constant worrying, the accusations or the constant need for reassurance become overbearing, robbing the other of psychic energy. A little self-doubt of course can be seen as modest and endearing. But it can become really draining to have to reassure someone time and again. Sooner or later the needy partner is seen as a liability and is cut loose. So how does someone become needy and how can they avoid it?

There are many reasons why people become needy, and a combination of reasons could be the case too. Here are some speculations. Unavailable parents, trauma, or abandonment causes neediness. There are unseen wounds that spring open when the person starts to enter into a new romantic relationship. Some people are never satisfied. The problem could be a traumatic event in their past. Or the problem could be temperament. Some things are never good enough for certain people. They have a hard time being satisfied. Development could play a role. Some people get stuck in the idealizing phase of their development, when they entered into their first romance. But they idealize love too much and fail in their adult life to be able to do the nuts and bolts of what it takes to make it work long term.

If the person acts immaturely, the problem is development. It could also be what Freud called the Unresolved Oedipus Complex. This is desiring what you can’t have. It’s like loving your parent and desiring them but knowing you can’t have them, this wanting what you can’t have and a constant inner tug-of-war destroys their relationships. These people tend to make the same mistakes in their love life over and over. Attraction to someone who is unavailable makes them more alluring to many. But it always ends in heartache. If you find yourself with this problem seek the help of a mental health professional. Work on building your self-esteem. Volunteer, do things that matter to you, count your blessings and make plans for the future. Plan goals and reach those goals. When you have a series of accomplishments you’ll feel better about yourself and feel less needy. When you feel needy, double think calling or texting that person. Put little systems in place for yourself to control your neediness. Have a good friend be your mentor and call them if you feel needy. It will improve your relationships if you practice a little bit of patience and some good judgment. For more advice read, Taming Your Outer Child: Overcoming Self-Sabotage and Healing from Abandonment by Susan Anderson.

Using HEAL to Restore Trust

HEAL

Using HEAL to Restore Trust

A loving, supportive romantic relationship is one of the biggest joys in life. But it can also be a source of regret, guilt, anger, resentment and sorrow. We learn all about weddings and courtship as children and teens. But we really don’t learn much about how to make marriage work. This is reflected in the divorce rate. The latest is 41% for first marriages and 60% for second ones. Life’s stresses and having different expectations for things can railroad even the best of relationships. Something else that weighs heavily on a relationship is a phenomenon called “attachment injuries.” This is when a particularly stressful or painful event arises in our life and we need our partner to comfort us but they aren’t available either physically or emotionally. This leads to resentment and suppressed anger. Therapist Dr. Melanie Greenberg has come up with a certain type of therapy to counteract these issues and get relationships back on track. It’s called HEAL, an acronym standing for Hear, Empathize, Act, Love. It exchanges self-protecting behavior with reconnecting, loving, and compassionate behavior.

First you have to listen actively to your partner. Consciously take down your defenses and open up your heart to them. Look at their facial expressions, body language, register their tone. What else are they saying with these nonverbal cues? How are they really feeling? Are they actually expressing some sort of need that isn’t currently being met? Companionship, understanding, control, and love are all needs that perhaps are going unfulfilled. The best way to calm your significant other is to really listen, find out what need isn’t being met, and be open to changing and working hard to meet their need. Next, empathize with your partner. Realize what it’s like from their point of view. Feel what they are feeling and let it come over you. Sometimes one emotion such as anger resides at the surface, but is put there by another emotion lingering underneath, perhaps frustration, loneliness or feeling that you aren’t in control of your own life. Sometimes there is a deeper reason. But sometimes your partner just needs validation and compassion. Oftentimes these two are enough to quell the problem. The next step is act. Talk with your partner and find out what needs to be done or what you need to change in order to meet their needs. Finally, love. Feel love for the person and express it unconditionally. If your relationship has trust issues, restore it with HEAL.  For more advice read, I Love You But I Don’t Trust You: The Complete Guide to Restoring Trust in Your Relationship by Mira Kirshenbaum.

Closing Emotional Distance

emotionaldistance

Closing Emotional Distance

Emotional distance occurs when couples fail to communicate how they feel, what they’re thinking, their values, and what their needs are and how they should be met. Often they then substitute anger for their fear of intimacy or vulnerability. When their partner wishes to probe further they act passive-aggressively, change the subject or even shut down completely. Those who are emotionally distant are afraid that if they do open up and reveal their innermost thoughts, desires and needs, they will be misunderstood or judged harshly by their partner. Another problem may be that their partner isn’t responding to their needs in the right way. The partner for instance may offer advice for a problem instead of listening carefully and offering validation and sympathy, the things that their partner is truly looking for. Some people are scared of intimacy because of parental neglect, abuse, or loss at an early age. They may be uncomfortable with their own feelings and have difficulty communicating them. They may also have trouble dealing with the feelings of others.

In a relationship inhabited by emotional distance, the couple may start to lead their lives such like roommates, living side-by-side but failing to connect on a deeper level. They talk about the chores and routines of the household and other surface talk but fail to pierce a deeper level of intimacy. Over time sexual intimacy may recede. Loneliness, a hollowness or hurt are some emotions that one or both partners may experience. To have their needs met some people in this type of relationship jump into other activities with more gusto such as parenting or their career. They may obsess over their social status, become substance abusers or have affairs. Eventually the couple may split.

The first thing to do to heal emotional distance is to reveal your true self to yourself and your partner. Couple’s therapy could be beneficial in helping to recognize and reverse negative patterns. It could be that one or both people need individual therapy to resolve trust issues. Restoring sexual intimacy means making it a priority and focusing on getting both partner’s needs met, rather than one meeting the others needs at their own expense. Fear and neglect can make us build up walls, but love and commitment can help break them down again. For more advice read, Emotional Infidelity: How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage and 10 Other Secrets to a Great Relationship by M. Gary Neuman.