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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

5 ways to lean on your partner when it feels like the world is on fire

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Relationships are one of life’s most beautiful offerings. But, what may feel like a gift on some days can feel more like a labor of love — with emphasis on the “labor” — on others.

Relationship stress is a part of life and can stem from a myriad of reasons — including times of distress around the world. While relational tension may be the default effect during times of distress, it doesn’t have to be.

The key to staying connected with your partner during times of world-wide distress is communication.

Positive connection strengthens our immune system.

Connection with others is valuable for our physical health. It strengthens our immune system as a defense against infection. But, to connect and stay connected requires a skill that makes connecting possible: communication.

Good and effective communication is vital to our emotional, physical, and relational health. Yet, we aren’t born with the innate ability to connect in ways that are always productive or positive.

Connecting is what makes people feel fully alive.

Anyone who has experienced any positive connection knows this to be true. So, the question stands: How do we rectify our need for connection with our inability to effectively communicate, so we can connect? Through the refinement of one’s interpersonal tool kit, healthy communication processes can be implemented and the benefits reaped.

‘Safe Conversations’ are a great place to start to improve communication with your partner.

Designed by relationship experts Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt, “Safe Conversations” is a research-based relational methodology, that allows the anxiety and defenses to diminish and gradually allows you to become more conscious of your emotional triggers.

Through this awareness, you learn how to get along better with your partner, heal the relational challenges of the past, and manage the difficult — and even toxic — emotions that are influencing your present. Once you validate and empathize with each other’s inner world, the relational space becomes rich with curiosity, compassion, and affirmations.

5 Ways to Have ‘Safe Conversations Between Partners

1. Talk without criticizing.

Use “I” statements, which allow for clarity and expression of feelings while avoiding the initiation of a blame game. It may be helpful to explain what you’re trying to accomplish prior to employing these statements with your partner.

2. Listen without judging.

Speaking from the heart takes courage. Remove judgment from the equation and allow for you and your partner to say what you think and feel without the presence of fear.

3. Connect around and beyond differences.

Engage your curiosity! No two people nor two perspectives are the same. Choose to see these differences as unique qualities, rather than antagonists of conflict.

Explore and empathize — you might be surprised by what you find while taking a walk in your partner’s shoes.

4. Remove negativity.

Anything that is experienced as negative — by you or your partner — creates anxiety and disrupts feelings of safety, and that ruptures connecting.

5. Express affirmations.

Encourage an optimistic mindset by regularly expressing affirmations to your partner. For example, this can be as simple as, “I really appreciate when you …”

When you subtract negativity and add affirmations, you create an environment of safety. You can survive in a dangerous environment, but thrive only in a safe one.

It is important to remember that the absence of conflict is not necessarily a sign of a healthy relationship. Inevitably, some kind of conflict will surface.

The sign of a healthy relationship is the ability to reconnect quickly with one another after conflict arises and is resolved.

By implementing these five practices into your relationship, your connections will reach new heights. And when conflict rears its head, you will be more prepared than ever to rapidly repair and reconnect.

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