3 Tips for Fighting Fair in Your Relationship

“All you do when you come home is sit on the couch and watch TV.”

“I work hard all day, and when I finally get a chance to sit down, all I hear is you nagging me.”

“You always have something negative to say. I work all day, too, but you don’t hear me complaining.”

Sound familiar? Marriage is hard work. Even the most satisfied couples experience conflict. Sometimes these disagreements devolve into a fight. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. In my work with couples, I have seen growth in understanding and compassion towards each partner.

Dr. John Gottman, a renowned relationship expert, offers 3 tips for the most effective way to fight.
1. State your needs in a positive way. Share what you need, instead of what your partner isn’t doing. For example, you can say “I need more of your time,” rather than “you don’t spend enough time with me.” No one likes to be scolded.
2. Listen to your partner with the goal to understand. Ask clarifying questions to fully understand what your partner is seeking to communicate.
3. Repair is essential in relationships. We all make missteps, but a genuine apology or acknowledgement of wrongdoing demonstrates good will and engenders compassion within a partnership.

Change is hard and doesn’t come naturally. Conflict in relationships is inevitable, but my work with couples has shown that strife does not have to signal the end. Positivity, ownership of mistakes, and attempts to repair will help to engender affection and acceptance within the relationship. In many cases, both members of the couple wish the union to succeed, but they lack the skills to do what is necessary to repair effectively. When couples want to repair, it may take some hard work to fix what has been broken, but they often will emerge stronger as a result. It is very difficult to work to repair a relationship alone. There are therapists that are trained specifically with a focus on couples and families. I have specialized training in an empirically validated approach, the Gottman method, that has been shown to decrease conflict and increase a sense of intimacy and closeness in couples. I offer the couples I work with specific skills and strategies to foster connection, strengthening their relationship with each other and, when applicable, to their children. We will work together to bolster your relationship and/or marriage!

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