Many people suggest that you shouldn’t try and change your partner, but my experience after thousands of hours facilitating such movement to improve relationships suggests that change is inevitable and desirable in most cases, even if in a small way.

How and when to try for change are the big questions. There are three elements to a partnership, one partner, the other partner and the relationship. Respect all three components.

 Communication is the key. Ask open questions and listen deeply and empathically while putting your frame of reference to one side. Stop and carefully consider what you are about to say and be considerate to your partner when you say it. “When you do that it shows how stupid you are.” Could become… “I feel that sometimes when things get heated the reason might dissolve.”  Or “You know last Tuesday when you did ‘xyz’, well I’ve been thinking about that…  it made me feel as if we belong together… really close.”

“Compromise doesn’t necessarily mean you comply habitually, be congruent and retain your autonomous viewpoint. Discuss don’t argue, slow everything down and stick to the point. No raised voices or swearing, remember you are both rational adults not immature children. ”

Be self-aware and aware of your partner. Find out by asking open questions regarding what the other person loves, likes and dislikes about you. This sounds obvious, but couples often find it very difficult to open up this discussion. Recognise small idiosyncratic foibles about your partner that may annoy you and those about yourself that may annoy them. Become acceptant of these and even work towards them becoming endearing facets of their personality not irritants.

 Every morning and every evening ask how they feel, about how their day might be and how it has been. Listen deeply, understand the content and then with that understanding in mind ask how happenings in their day made them feel. Empathy can bring a richer, warmer relationship between two people.

Shane Lutkin - Lead Therapist

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