Sadly, we often reveal and release our nastier sides within our romantic relationships. When the going gets tough, it seems like these most intimate relationships are the first to suffer; we lash out, dismiss, shut-down, and project our frustrations and fears on those closest to us.
Clearly this pattern needs to change because truth be told, when life is stressful is when we need our partners the most. And if we take out our frustrations on our partner during times of stress, it certainly isn't helpful to add feelings of guilt and shame over poor behavior while also managing all other difficult emotions and stuff life throws at us.
Wouldn’t it be incredible if instead, our romantic relationships could be the touchstone of love, gentleness, and the individual support and feelings of being seen?
Here are some simple and easily actionable tips on how to better foster a positive connection with your lover.
1. Take care of yourself
It is undoubtedly our lack of met needs that comes out as frustration and annoyance towards our partner. I mean after all, should I give you the benefit of the doubt or grace when it constantly feels like I’m fighting for mine? Begin asking yourself in the moments we are focused on “what should my partner be doing right now” to “what can I be doing for myself right now”. It is this simple shift of learning to assess and meet our own needs that can be massively relieving to our frustrations with our partners, as they continue to leave their socks just outside the hamper.
2. Meet the Need You Want to be Met
Okay, I know you’re now thinking I’m completely nuts, but hear me out on this one. When we are in a disagreement or experiencing tension in our relationships, our partners are going to naturally be defensive. They are human beings too that do not want to feel like they are doing anything wrong. So, when we feel like we are lacking something specific from our partner (I.e. encouragement, special recognition, praise, etc.) we can "hack" awareness of our needs into the prefrontal cortex of our partner’s brain by giving them exactly what we’d like to see from them. After all, it is the spreading of love that coaches and coaxes more love to exist.
3. Talk to a Therapist!
I know I’m biased, but this last one can really be a game-changer. Sometimes we simply just don’t know what we don’t know. If loving someone in healthy and sustained manners hasn’t even been a part of our experience (by watching our parents, caregivers, or other role-models while growing up), then it is outside of our wheelhouse. Does that mean we’re doomed? Of course not! There is incredible power in identifying areas in which we can grow and heal, and that growth and change can be expedited with the help of a professional. Couples counseling does not just have to be for those on the brink of losing it all - it can be for the couples trying to best learn how to love and live in harmony with each other. Relationship therapy is fantastic for couples building foundations of a life together, and can support building respect and admiration, as well as helping them to learn how to support each other to grow as people. And isn’t that a happily ever after?