by Zara Mohammed, Relationships Columnist
Published in Relationships on 30th November, -0001
Want to know how to make your relationship stronger? Keep reading to discover some top relationship advice from experts in the field.
One of the main reasons that small issues in relationships are often much more destructive than they should be is that people don't know when to take a time-out. A well-timed break during a disagreement can mean the difference between an easy compromise and a full-blown row that leads to even more negative energy and emotions being exchanged.
When we don't allow ourselves time to cool off and reflect, there is a strong risk of us saying things that we don't necessarily mean. It also makes it more likely that we will bring up other issues that are not in context with the current issue, making things even more complicated and harder to resolve.
So the next time you both feel like the heat is rising, but not in a good way, agree to take a breather and come back to discuss things again when you both feel more calm and willing to listen.
Negativity can only grow and cause damage within your relationship if you feed it. It is easy to criticise and complain, but trickier to find the positive slant or solution to a problem when you are feeling fed up with something.
The thing is that ranting and airing complaints doesn't really solve anything. It tends to only serve the person doing the ranting, and puts a communication wall up between you and your loved one.
A really effective way of letting your partner know about the things you dislike about them or their behaviour without causing offense, insecurity, hostility or defensiveness, is to sandwich your complaint between two positives.
For example, tell your guy or gal that you love how relaxed and laid back or chilled they are about so many things, but then let them know that it does bother you when they turn up late after making arrangements.
You can then soften the criticism by suggesting that you want them to still be that chilled out person you love so much, but that you're sure they could also be on time.
The gist of it is that when you offer reasonable suggestions and solutions, and aim to complement rather than criticise, then there is not too much that your partner can react negatively to. Negativity only breeds more negativity, whereas positivity makes people feel good and want to change.
It might seem obvious that a healthy sex life leads to a strong connection and a happier relationship, but so many people end up getting too comfortable in their partnerships and that is when physical intimacy is taken for granted.
The best way to rejuvenate and strengthen your bond is to pay attention to each other's bodies. The skin is the body's biggest organ and it is full of nerve endings, sending signals to the brain that release feel-good chemicals, opening up your heart and bringing you closer to your partner.
Sex and physical intimacy should be integrated into your daily life and relationship, and not just as something that you do occasionally, at the weekend, when you have had a drink, or on special occasions.
The closer you are physically to your partner, the closer you will be mentally too. So take advantage of every opportunity you have to get close.
Maintaining your sexual connection is also important as it prevents you from crossing over the line with your lover into BFF territory. As much as it seems like an ideal to be best friends with your romantic partner, if you are not careful it can also be a sex-life exterminator. So make the distinction by practicing physical intimacy often.
Its funny isn't it how easy it can be to get stuck in patterns, especially negative ones? We come to recognise and expect certain behaviours, responses and attitudes from the people we are closest to, and that means we are able to predict arguments and problems before they have even occurred. But this doesn't necessarily enable us to curb them from happening. Instead we anticipate the worst and expect the patterns to repeat.
Breaking that cycle is possible though, and not only is it possible, it is also pretty easy to do. Being nice to the person you love should come naturally, but for some reason, positivity and appreciation isn't always our first instinct.
Once we start practicing these skills and adapting our responses our partners are not able to predict negative outcomes anymore, and this makes them more aware of their own approach to things too.
When both people in a relationship become more considerate and aware of each other's strengths and weaknesses, there is less room for harmful negativity and much more room for support, compromise, growth and love - which is what relationship should really be all about.
We all think that we know how to listen, but when we are in the throes of a disagreement we are rarely able to listen to our loved ones effectively.
This is because we are preoccupied with the fear that our own feelings are not being heard and acknowledged. The problem is that if you both have the same selfish agenda then essentially you are only going to be battling against each other for your desired outcome, and neither of you is going to achieve anything.
A much better way of preventing arguments from escalating, and making sure that you both continue to feel valued and respected within the relationship, is to learn to listen fairly. This means allowing each of you to express what you want to say, without interruption, and for those points to be satisfactorily addressed and resolved before moving onto another issue.
The most effective way to achieve this is to remember that you both have different perspectives, and that this is what is causing the conflict, so the only way to overcome the conflict is to acknowledge and understand each other's perspective, and explain respectfully if and why you disagree with it.
Talking more productively in this way avoids misunderstandings because if you don't understand something you can simply ask your partner to explain further.
Listening is really about wanting to understand your partner's perspective so that you can resolve the problem, rather than forcing your own perspective onto them.