Giving other people advice is easy, following it yourself is much harder.

So when I am in danger of falling into that trap, I remember four personal philosophies by which I try to practice regularly.

Look for the good in the other

Sometimes it is easier to criticise our partner rather than understand our contribution to a feeling of negatively towards them. This is why it is essential to look for the good in your partner. If this feels difficult, try and understand how your partner arrived at his or her viewpoint.
Eventually, you will move away from holding polar positions and become aware of the grey in between.

Be flexible

Accept that there is no absolute truth about anything – only our experiences. Therefore, we should allow our partners to have a different view of our relationship – and not feel too challenged by it. After all, your partner is living with you, one experience; and you living with him or her, another experience.

Hold onto optimism

Optimistic people believe that there will be a good outcome from an argument. They will learn something valuable and find a resolution to a sticky problem. This allows them to avoid hopeless comments which turn a manageable row into a potential tragedy: ‘We’ll never sort this out’ or ‘If you feel like that I can’t see the point carrying on.’
Better still, optimistic people put the problem down to something specific and transitory – ‘we’ve both been stressed lately’ – and therefore feel better able to cope and search for a solution. By contrast, pessimists put problems down to something general and ingrained – ‘we’re incompatible’ – and therefore feel hopeless and overwhelmed.

Ask rather than give up.

Generally, it is easier to say what we don’t want than to ask for what we do want. That’s why, when trying to make things better with our partners, we end up either complaining or merely describing the problem.
So thinking of your top complaints about your partner, how could you turn it into a particular request: what you want rather than what you don’t want? The more specific you can be the better. For example:

  • ComplaintYou sulk to get your way.
  • Positive Request: Please tell me outright when you disagree.

If you would like to discuss and get support around your relationship, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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