As Leo Tolstoy once said, "All happy families resemble one
another; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." We can
smile at that quote or it can inspire us to ask ourselves some wise
questions: What is it that happy families are doing? And, do my
spouse and I fall into the category of happy couples?
If you want to have a superior relationship with your partner
and be a good role model for your children, then enhance your
verbal skills today by adopting the tips below. What I have found
as a couples mediator is that the same verbal skills work to
improve every relationship. These 10 quick and simple tips from my
book Fight Less, Love More will keep the
peace in the family and make your love connection stronger. Even if
you're using the tips and your husband or wife isn't, their effect
will still be astonishing.
Pick Your Battles
Before you get angry and reprimand your mate for making a
mistake or doing something you told him or her not to do, stop and
ask yourself this one wise question: "Does this affect me?" If it
doesn't, button your lips and avoid a fight. After all, your mate
is the one who must deal with the consequence, not you.
Be a Detective
When your mate's mistake does affect you, what then? Rather than
being hostile, find out what really happened. Ask neutral and
respectful questions such as, "Can you tell me what happened?" or
"I don't understand. Am I missing something here?" You might
discover a good reason for the oversight or blunder, which could
avoid a blow-up.
Complain with Impact
When you have a complaint, say what you do want, not what you
don't want. For example, rather than saying to your child or mate,
"Get off that darn computer - you're so rude!" instead target your
mate using a positive approach: "I miss your company. Can you join
me in the living room to hang out?"
Skip the Whatever Word
Being passive by often saying "whatever you want" might
temporarily avoid a fight, but it could breed resentment because it
leaves the majority of decisions to your mate, which can be
stressful. Instead, have a real opinion and share it.
If your mate does something that affects and disturbs you, such
as overspending or making plans for both of you without asking the
other first, don't get sucked into the heated "How could you?"
argument. Instead, focus on the future by creating policy
solutions, as in, "From now on can we agree to make a budget for
our personal expenses?" Or: "Can we agree to check in with each
other before making plans for both of us?"
Show You Care
Forgetting to ask about what's going on in your child or your
mate's daily life is a surefire way to erode a relationship. From
now on, if you know that someone in your family has an important
meeting, test, doctor appointment, or event that day, don't neglect
it - instead, respect it. Call, email, text, or ask in person, "How
did it go?" This sends a clear message: I care about you.
Avoid Factual Arguments
Do you and your mate often find yourselves arguing about the
name of a restaurant you went to, a certain address, someone's
birthday, an historical fact, or sports figure? Then you are prone
to having a dumb argument! Stop the conversation and do an online
fact check, call a friend, or simply drive by the location.
Apologize with the "B" Word
Quickly saying the words "I'm sorry" is a bad apology because it
often comes off as insincere, and could trigger another battle.
Next time you seek mercy, add the "B" word: Say, "I'm sorry
because..." and share how you hurt your mate and what you will do
to prevent the wrongdoing from recurring. Research shows that when
you add the "because clause" your words are more persuasive.
Create Border Control
Are you ever angry with your partner for revealing something to
others that you consider private, like a health issue, a child
discipline issue, job insecurity, or a marital disagreement? If so,
bypass the "How could you say that?!" argument. Instead, establish
border control: Outline the topics that should remain private to
insure that neither of you becomes an accidental traitor.
Give a Daily Dose of Recognition
Most couples on the divorce path seldom compliment each other.
In our online survey for Fight Less, Love More, we
asked people, "Would you rather your mate compliment you for being
kind or good-looking?" The result was that 84 percent of people
said "kind." The lesson: Find daily opportunities to recognize your
mate for something that reflects a character strength (you are such
a wonderful mother/father, you are so thoughtful when you...).
Laurie Puhn is a Harvard-educated lawyer, couples mediator,
and bestselling author of "Fight Less, Love More: 5-Minute
Conversations to Change Your Relationship Without Blowing Up or
Giving In," who frequently appears on Fox News Channel, CNN, "Good
Morning America," and "The Early Show" to offer relationship
advice. Visit her at www.fightlesslovemore.com
Relationship advice from best-selling author Laurie Puhn
See more of Laurie's stories here.
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