How To Upgrade The OS System Of Your Relationship

Love, Self

Romantic relationships that are happy and thriving are rare! This is true despite what neuroscience says: that we are social beings wired for connection and that our brains have plasticity throughout our lifetimes. Plasticity means that our brains can keep learning, changing and growing.

In these days there are an abundance of ways for couples to upgrade their relationships. Here are three foundational and fundamental places to start:

Try them. They work!

I. Stop interrupting each other when you are talking or arguing. Let your partner finish what they are saying.  

Repair Tip 1: Talk facing each other (neuroscience research documents what we all know: it is good for connection) and keep breathing so you can keep listening until your partner is finished.  If you have to put your hands over your mouth to keep listening then do it.

Repair Tip 2:  Set a timer for 3-5 minutes and have one partner share while the other listens. Then, switch. Choose who goes first. A is first and B is second. Partner A first shares Appreciations (what behavior B did and what they appreciated about it).  B practices Compassionate Listening. A then shares Resentments (what behavior B did and what they resented about it). Again, B practices Compassionate Listening. There is no interrupting or defending oneself! Next, partners switch and B shares Appreciations and Resentments while A practices Compassionate Listening. Again, there is no interrupting; no defending oneself! Then you stop. Let what you and your partner shared sink in and percolate. No more conversation, discussion or argument. The entire exercise should take no more than 10 minutes.  

II.  Stop Reacting, Start Responding:  When we react we can’t control our impulses; we go on automatic, into our default habits. We don’t the take time to break our habits, to reflect and choose our response.  STOP

putting up your wall, cutting off, and acting out impulsively in reaction. 

Repair Tip: Do what you need to do to calm down, cool off and not react! You can: breathe slowly, practice mindfulness, do yoga, walk around the block or something else that helps you blow off steam and get centered. Practice being vulnerable, open-hearted and present in the moment. Try to go beyond your point of view and understand the meaning of what your partner did or didn’t do. Ask Questions. Once you’ve calmed down, not reacted, and asked questions to understand, take the time you need to reflect. You don’t have to respond immediately. You can choose how and when you will respond. Let your partner know you are reflecting and will respond when you are clear.

III. Stop playing the Blame, Right or Wrong Game: Realize that there are two different people in the room, not one! You and your partner do not have to agree. Respect disagreements.

Repair Tip:  Repeat the affirmation:  We are 2 and that’s a healthy relationship.

While this blog post was written for couples in romantic relationships, these repair tips also apply to other relationships in our personal and business lives.

To your relationship health,

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