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Improving Things, Six Steps

This describes six basic shifts that you might face if you decide to improve your relationship. These are very brief summaries; it may be useful to visit the links as well.

Move from:

Emotion to Thought
Romantic love alone may not see you through tough times. We sometimes get stuck in a mess of emotions: hurt, anger, blame etc. We draw conclusions such as, “If my partner loves me s/he would not do that”. Self-pity can enable us to endlessly indulge these emotions, just when we need to be savvy and think more rationally. (See The Brain and Relationship)

Blame to Responsibility
We must move from being triggered by “wrongs” and “faults” to taking responsibility for ourselves. Don’t say, “Who is to blame? Ask: “What do I do that is not good for myself or him/her?” “Why do I do that?” “How can I change it?” Give up trying to control or change your partner, its a loser’s game; the only person you can control is yourself! Try understanding at a deeper level instead.

Random to Specific
Put aside the things you don’t want! Ask yourself, “What exactly do I want most from relationship?” Intimacy? Love?  Sex? Security? Companionship? Now name some small daily things your partner could do to help you towards each of these; not what you want them to stop doing!

Concealed to Candid
You must tell and listen. Eg. “These are the things I want – they would look like this..” And, “What do you want? What daily things could I do to help?” These are not demands, some of our wishes may not be possible. Yet knowing what our partner wants, being taken seriously and sharing a vision of a good future is bonding.

Passive to Active
The biggest risk you can take is to muddle on. If the solutions you are trying are not working, don’t go on doing them harder.  Change equals kicking old habits, becoming active, curious, adopting intentional new behaviour. Persistently! For example try giving more appreciations and listening better.

Pessimism to Hope
When we dare to vision and reach for the life we want as individuals within relationship, long-term love can slowly open up:

Freedom love,
Cared-for love,
Giving-and-helping-you love,
Feeling-secure-with-you love,
We-do-hard-times-together love,
Good-for-each-other love,
We-both-feel-understood love,
Intimacy love.

You might also like:
Love in Today’s World,
Romantic Love
Empathy in Relationships

With thanks to Imago Therapy and Gestalt Therapy

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