Assuming The Best Of Your Partner

When your partner is really making you angry, do you assume that they’re doing it because they’re trying to piss you off? Or assume that they don’t care, or that they’re just mean, or lazy? You’re not alone. Many of the couples that I work with have a tendency to assume the worst about their partner. For example, when their partner is running late, the immediate assumption is something like, “They don’t care about me, that’s why.” Sometimes people jump to, “She never thinks about my feelings,” or, “He just can’t prioritize me.” I hate to break it to you — because it’s way easier to just be mad and think the other person is pissing you off on purpose — but this is usually far off from the truth. Your partner did not wake up this morning thinking “I want to piss my partner off today, that’s my goal.” Usually, once I talk both people, it becomes clear that the goal of the partner is not to upset you. In fact, they’re usually are trying their damndest NOT to upset you, especially if you’ve been fighting a lot! When you assume the best of your partner you’re usually more accurate in terms of what’s really happening. Assuming the best of intentions is often something I have people practice with their partners. What would you be assuming if you were assuming the best? Using the previous example, if your partner was running late, you could assume instead that they were […] Read more »

Why Taking Space Isn’t the Only Option For Cooling Off During a Fight

Many couples think that the best way to get through a conflict is to take space from each other to cool off. Unfortunately, taking space isn’t always an option. There are times when you need to make a quick decision, you’re stuck in the car together, or you are at an event where you can’t take space and staying connected is preferable. The couples in my practice don’t often realize that the words they use with each other are magical. Just as words can aggravate and disconnect you from your partner, they can also calm an angry partner and help them feel connected to you again. Do you know the magic words you can say to your partner that will calm them down and help them feel connected to you? Many people don’t know the words that they can say that will help their partner feel connected to them again, but those magic words are definitely worth figuring out with each other. The words that can help us connect again don’t have to be complicated or long. Something simple like, “I don’t want to feel this way with you, I want to feel connected,” will often work or, “I want you to know how much I love you and care about you. Simply stating, “I want us to feel connected while we talk about this,” can go a long way in moving you back to love. Speaking to what you want and how you want to be with your partner […] Read more »

It’s Not About the Content

Content versus connection Oftentimes when I’m working with clients, their central concern is a desire to discuss issues about work, money, children, or their sex life: aka content What couples often don’t understand is that it is very difficult to talk about any kind of content if you are not connected to each other. Trying to talk about important issues while you’re feeling defended or angry leads to fighting, and the content gets lost. The trick to getting through content together is managing the connection you have with your partner. As soon as you realize that you are disconnecting, try to pause and re-establish how you want to be feeling with each other. I’ve found that this is best done by naming how you want to feel and have your partner feel, not how you don’t want to feel. Securely attached partners know how to get themselves and their partner back to connection when they are feeling disconnected. Sometimes simply holding hands and looking into each other’s eyes without talking for one minute can actually reset your connection. Research has shown that looking into your loved one’s eyes can help release oxytocin (the “love hormone”) which can help you feel more connected, calm, and in love.   Exercise: Self-Inquiry If you find yourself often fighting with your partner around certain content, try this mindfulness exercise: Sit quietly and check in with yourself: How connected are you feeling with your partner right now on a scale of one to ten, with […] Read more »

How Curiosity can Save Your Relationship

When your relationship is in strife it can feel like the world is falling apart.  We can feel even more alone, hopeless and seperate than when we are single.   However, when relationships are going well they can be the thing that bolster our lives and help us be our greatest selves.   The Dynamic: There is a common dynamic that I see over and over again in relationships.  It’s where one partner (Let’s call them “the Frustrated One”) starts lecturing or talking to the other partner (Let’s call them “the Impatient Listener”) in a critical and sometimes patronizing tone. It happens all of the time.  And I understand the frustration that creates this dynamic.  Maybe you’ve asked your partner a dozen times to do something, and they don’t do it.  Or you just don’t understand why they can’t do something, it seems so basic, such a simple thing to do, something a child would know.  So the frustration leaks out.  And sometimes it actually works; with voicing your frustration, the person actually responds for a while.  The Impatient Listener wants you to not be upset and so they agree to do the things you want them to do.  Except that it didn’t actually work because a few weeks later it’s back to the normal behavior again.  The Impatient Listener didn’t really want to do those things, or they agreed because they felt like a child in trouble and they wanted the angry parental tone to stop. This argumentative pattern is really destructive in […] Read more »