By James E, DelGenio MS, LCPC
Maintain your relationship!
All couples argue. The key is to have rules for fighting so as not to create resentment over time. Resentment is very destructive to a relationship. Always be civil and respectful. There are no winners when couples lose control. The best case scenario is that you both feel understood even if you don’t agree. Always be willing to compromise. When all is said and done, you should both feel understood even if the issue is unresolved. Agree to discuss the conflict in therapy if an issue remains unresolved.
• Always be civil and respectful. This is the foundation of your relationship. When civility and respect breaks down, the relationship is in trouble. Resentment is created and this has long term detrimental effects including lack of intimacy and bickering over little things.
• Relationships are like a car. They need maintenance to run well. Don’t take your relationship for granted. This is a very hectic world we live in. Sometimes couples get lost in the day to day grind of life, especially when there are children and all their after school activities. Make time for one another; planning is key. Plan a date night for just the two of you at least twice per month. This fosters good communication and a feeling of connection.
• Good communication means everyone walks away feeling good about the interaction. Find a way to compromise or at least agree to disagree civilly.
• Offer greetings, a hug and a kiss when you leave in the morning and when you return. The duty of meet and greet, as I call it, is on both of you to find one another and give a hug and kiss. When you kiss remember you are not kissing your mother. It’s OK to laugh. I think you will find that this turns into a family hug once the children notice. Even the dog will want in.
• Look at one another when you talk. Make eye contact. It’s better to be nose to nose possibly with your arms around each other for difficult conversations. The intention is that this is about good communication and never about winning an argument.
• Be affectionate. Take walks together; hold hands.
• Make a love call during the day.
• Have a date night regularly for just the two of you. Don’t discuss issues; if you can’t think of anything to talk about, plan your next date or vacation.
• Take time to talk for a few minutes when you get home. Talk about your respective day. Share your feelings. Men typically try to offer solutions. Gentlemen, you need to listen, you don’t have to offer solutions. Men tend to try to fix it; just listen and acknowledge what you have heard by saying back what you heard with emphasis on the feeling you heard. This will help avoid, “you’re not listening.”
Now I can work via Zoom with anyone, anywhere in the country and it will still be covered by BCBS Insurance. Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.
Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.