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The Best Relationship Advice, According to Experts

The Best Relationship Advice, According to Experts

The Best Relationship Advice, According to Experts

Relationship advice is a tricky thing. When it’s unsolicited, it can be annoying and sometimes even insulting (hey, we all have that friend). But when you actually seek it out, it can be hard to find what you’re really looking for—like a definitive answer on whether or not yours is healthy, and what’s truly important.

 

Sure, there’s your go-to advice like “don’t go to bed angry,” and “respect is important,” but we’ve all heard those before. That’s why we consulted expert therapists for the best tips they most regularly share with their patients.

Schedule dates to talk about your relationship.

“Commit to investing an hour—on an ongoing basis—to work on strengthening your relationship, troubleshooting, and making it more satisfying,” says Manhattan-based licensed clinical psychologist Joseph Cilona, Psy.D. Set up a weekly or monthly dinner where you only talk about relationship issues or goals.

Sure, it might sound drab, but getting your “homework,” or couple’s maintenance out of the way during a designated conversation is better than having it sabotage a perfectly romantic meal. Make sure to cover the things that you’re grateful for as well as use the time to figure out how to solve problems and minimize them in the future, Cilona says.

Be candid about your feelings—the good and the bad.

Regularly opening up can help bring you closer, says psychotherapist Beth Sonnenberg, L.C.S.W. “Once you think that your feelings don’t matter, won’t be heard, or are not worth sharing, you open the door to harbor negativity and resentment.” That includes positive feelings, too, she points out—especially when they’re connected with your partner. “People need to feel appreciated in any relationship,” she adds.

 

Figure out the recurring issues in your relationship. Then, do something about them.

Every couple has these. Maybe you repeatedly fight about your intense work schedule, or your partner’s spending habits. Whatever it is, not addressing the root of the problem means you’re going to continue to fight. That’s why Cilona recommends that you and your partner identify recurring conflicts, and decide on the solutions. It’s helpful to focus on “specific and discrete behaviors” when you do this instead of labels and interpretations, he says.

For example, instead of saying that your partner is inconsiderate when they buy a mini fridge without consulting you, it’s better to say that when they make big purchases without talking to you first, you feel like they’re trying to hide things from you. “Focusing on the issue rather than blame can allow for more effective problem solving and a team-based approach,” Cilona says.

 

Don’t expect your partner to be your BFF

Obviously, you should expect your partner to meet some of those needs, but the best friend one is complicated. If you feel like your partner just isn’t best friend material for you, Klow recommends finding “healthy, alternative ways” to have that need met through others. “This can free up your relationship to be a source of joy rather than something that lets you down,” he says.

 

Before commenting, repeat their words out loud.

It’s called “mirroring.” Here’s how it works: When you’re having an important discussion with your partner, repeat back exactly what you heard them say before you comment on it. For example, something like “So what you’re saying is, you think we need more time for just us without friends or kids around?” is more effective.

Obviously, you should expect your partner to meet some of those needs, but the best friend one is complicated. If you feel like your partner just isn’t best friend material for you, Klow recommends finding “healthy, alternative ways” to have that need met through others. “This can free up your relationship to be a source of joy rather than something that lets you down,” he says.

 

Before commenting, repeat their words out loud.

It’s called “mirroring.” Here’s how it works: When you’re having an important discussion with your partner, repeat back exactly what you heard them say before you comment on it. For example, something like “So what you’re saying is, you think we need more time for just us without friends or kids around?” is more effective.

You will be endlessly surprised at how the simplest statements are heard differently by various people,” Cilona says. “This not only dramatically improves the accuracy and quality of communication by allowing for correction of misinterpretations, but also creates of strong sense of being heard and understood in each partner.”

 

Remember, don’t just say how you feel…show it.

Choose to love your partner every day.

“My favorite piece of advice is the idea that every day we wake up and decide to feel affection towards our partner,” says psychotherapist Jennifer L. Silvershein, L.C.S.W. The idea behind this is simple, she says: Love is an active daily choice, and you have control over how you’re feeling. “When we wake up and the first thing we notice is a flaw in our partner, it will be hard to feel connected and in love for the rest of that day,” she says. “If we wake up and identify something we love or admire, that sets the tone

Fight in a productive way.

Every couple fights, but fighting in a way that moves the conversation forward and clearly explains why you’re feeling a certain way can make a difference. Silvershein recommends being specific about how your partner’s actions impact you. For example, “When you forget to text when you’ll be late, it makes me feel like you don’t care.” “When we begin shifting our language to share how our partner’s behavior makes us feel rather than just telling them what to do, I find that couples become more fluid and more aligned in their daily functioning,” she says.

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