Most couples live by the Golden Rule - treat others (i.e. my partner) the way I want to be treated. Seems like a great idea, right? Well, sometimes in an intimate relationship treating your partner the way you want to be treated doesn't alway equal happiness!
In relationships, perhaps the golden rule should be...find out what makes your partner happy and treat them that way! The problem with the Golden Rule is that what makes us happy is not what automatically makes our partner happy. If we assume this is the case when it is not, our partner's response to us is going to be less than satisfying, confusing, perhaps even angry or sad. Then we wonder why we can't make him or her happy. We have to make the effort to ask the question "What do you need?" It is up to our partner to make the effort to answer the question honestly.
When asked what is the most important part of any relationship, my answer will always be communication. You can love someone deeply but if you cannot share your thoughts and feelings with your partner AND listen to them share their thoughts and feelings with you, then your relationship is going to be unstable. A void will begin to form between the two of you. The longer this void goes unaddressed the larger it becomes and the harder it is to close it. Therefore, it is important to learn the lessons of communication and practice them daily.
So, what are the components of good communication?
- Owning your own behavior
- Being a good listener
- Being mindful of word choice
- Knowing how to argue
- Committment to the relationship
If you or your spouse need to learn or further develop any of these components, please call me. I can help you strengthen and deepen your relationship.
"The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman
"The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work" by John Gottman and Nan Silver
Spouse Space website is a subscription website where you can learn from licensed counselors (including me) from around the country about improving your relationship. Check out my video links below.