Three Signs Your Relationship May Be In Trouble.
All relationships require care and tending. Anything that you want to thrive does. But in the midst of our fast-paced days and family obligations, we may neglect the very actions that are essential to building a beautiful union. Or maybe we miss these vital components because we never knew about them in the first place. After all, so many of us aren’t taught how to have healthy relationships. For instance, we assume that we’re listening to our spouse because, well, we can hear them. But hearing someone’s words and understanding them are two very different things.
Below are three Three Signs Your Relationship May Be In Trouble — along with some helpful suggestions from Shelly Hummel, LMFT, a Gottman certified therapist who’s worked with couples for 18 years.
You might be neglecting to appreciate each other.
How often do you thank your partner or tell them you appreciate them? How often do you greet them in the morning or when you walk in the door? Most of the time we don’t just neglect to be kind. But we forget good manners and common courtesy, even with the people we love most.
And yet, according to John Gottman, Ph.D, couples in happy marriages had a ratio of 20 positive interactions to 1 negative interaction. As Hummel said, “that is 20 compliments to one complaint.” A number that might surprise you.
You can create positive interactions by expressing your appreciation to your partner. Hummel shared these examples: You might compliment your spouse’s great traits: “You are so good with the kids. They are lucky to have you as their father.” You might thank them for their help: “Thank you for picking up the dry cleaning. That saved me a lot of time today.”
Appreciating each other strengthens your friendship and intimacy, Hummel said. It also adds money to your “emotional bank account.” “This account needs to be as full as it can be when the inevitable happens, and the two of you have a conflict.”
You might be neglecting to really listen to each other.
“Most people listen to respond instead of listening to understand,” Hummel said. That is, as our spouse is talking, we’re not focusing on what they’re saying.
We are formulating our response. We are formulating our argument, figuring out the points we want to challenge and gathering our evidence. When we hear something we disagree with or that triggers anger, we automatically get defensive.
Instead, Hummel encouraged readers “to postpone your agenda while your spouse is venting, complaining and yes, even nagging.” She suggested getting curious and asking questions. Try to better understand your partner’s perspective. This doesn’t mean you agree with them. It means that you want to know what it’s like to be walking in their shoes.
“We’ve all had arguments that are so tangential that we can’t even remember what we were fighting about,” Hummel said. “This occurs because, in the end, we are really fighting about not feeling heard or understood.” And all of us want to be understood and validated.