The key to lasting love
By Karen Salmansohn
Want to know what causes the dissolution of far too many relationships in this world?
As a bestselling author and motivational coach, I can tell you how it goes in three acts:
Act I: You hurt me.
Act II: Because you hurt me, I hurt you.
Act III: You hurt me even more because I just hurt you, so I hurt you even more. Then you hurt me; then I hurt you; then you hurt me because I just hurt you, so I hurt you more, and so on. Browse Local Singles at Match.com on Yahoo!
I am a: Man Woman Seeking a: Man Woman Near: The point: It’s easy to act cold/hurtful/in a stonewalling manner toward someone who you feel has said or done something you perceive as having done the same to you.
But that’s the point. That’s the easy thing to do.
Basically, most of us people as a species aren’t mean. We are weak.
It takes effort to consciously, openly, bravely, warmly speak up about the hurt you feel before things spiral negatively downward.
Yes, it takes effort to take the high road and to express your vulnerabilities and concerns with warmth and candor. But this effort is worth it... because love and connection are your true sources for happiness — not money, not shoes, not sports cars... and definitely not the satisfaction of being right about someone or something. (Yes, I know that last one really sometimes does feel as if it will bring us happiness... but in the end it brings us more misery than glory.)
So next time someone you care about does something that you feel isn’t very caring at all — put in the brave effort and kill that relationship monster while it’s still small.
With this in mind, here are some helpful communication tips to keep on hand:
1. Pick the right time and the right place. Do you have at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted time ahead? Are you in a place where your partner feels like he or she can talk openly and not self-consciously? Are you in a loud restaurant where it’s hard to hear and so you must shout — even before your partner makes you want to shout? In general, the best place to talk is at home alone, where you can sit facing each other, with good strong eye contact. Many psychologists even suggest holding hands as you talk — to keep a warm connection ongoing through all the bumps in the conversation.
2. Before you begin a difficult conversation, make it very clear to your partner that your goal is to create the best relationship possible. Admit you recognize talking about difficult subjects can be uncomfortable, but you’d rather have a difficult conversation now, than a decaying, untruthful, less intimate relationship later. Remind your partner how much you value him or her. Compliment your sweetie on a few qualities you appreciate. In general, be 100 percent certain your partner completely understands and believes your goal in talking is to increase the love, not wound to the quick, before you begin any difficult discussion.
3. If you are upset at your partner for something specific, try not to generalize by saying “You always do this. You always say that.” Generalizations will only escalate your partner’s emotional state because they’re vaguer and less believable. Come on. Be honest with yourself. An “always” action is in reality a very rare thing. And psychologists all agree it’s best to limit your talk to the one specific recent event that is bugging you and make past offenses not admissible evidence.
4. Be conscious of trying to begin as many of your sentences with “I” as you can. Likewise, try not to begin your sentences with “You.” The goal: own your feelings. Don’t slander your partner. For example, try to say something like: “I feel like you were ignoring me yesterday — and I was hurt because I needed your warmth after my proposal was rejected at the office,” instead of “You are cold, heartless, and don’t offer me an ounce of support.”
5. Create an obvious upside to talking, so you and your partner will want to talk again. In other words, be sure to close the conversation by consciously listing all the positive things you learned thanks to talking. Make a specific list of all the new actions you both will try to do to keep your relationship as strong and loving as possible. Oh... and this is where that good, old-fashioned reward of “making up” comes in! By ending on an upbeat “rewarding note,” next time a difficult conversation comes up, you’ll associate positives with talking, which will help you get to the heart of the matter much more quickly together.
Karen Salmansohn is a life coach and best-selling author of 27 books, including Even God Is Single, So Stop Giving Me A Hard Time. Learn more at www.notsalmon.com.