Relationship Tools: 4 Steps You Take to Repair the Damage
By Dr Becky Spelman
Relationships are the easiest thing in the world to get right – until they’re not. And things can quickly do a 180-degree turn overnight, and even in the blink of an eye in some cases. There are many reasons why this might happen. It could be the result of a misstep in the form of infidelity or another violation of trust. But most often, the damage that occurs within a relationship is the slow-burning kind. It’s come from the sort of infractions that might appear trivial at first and more trouble to address than to simply let go. But over time, these small grievances can become a huge source of resentment and contention. Boundaries are crossed, defences are put up on both sides, and a resolution seems as far away as it is possible to be. Here are some tools to help you get your relationship back on the right track.
Focus On The Outcome (Not the Problem)
There is an old proverb that says, ‘the mind that created the problem cannot solve the problem.’ If you’re intent on re-treading the same ground of who did what and why things are the way they are now, you’ll never make any progress. Focusing on the positive is a powerful tool in that it first takes you away from the repetitive thought patterns that are keeping you stuck in your current situation. But also, by thinking in this way, it gives you a clear and tangible goal to aim for and something that you can both agree on. It’s the start of finding common ground, which is the first step in all forms of resolution.
Be Transparent About What You Want
No one likes guessing games. The mental thought process and attitude of, ‘you should know what I mean,’ or of giving subtle and sometimes, cryptic clues for your partner to decipher isn’t very helpful. If you’re at a place where communication has broken down between the two of you, withholding information isn’t going to get you beyond the stage you’re at right now. As soon as you each know what the other wants, you can start working on a way to give each other the things you need most. This starts with asking questions. It sounds basic, and it is, but relationships don’t need to complicated. Be direct, but do so in a way that shows you’re trying to come to work with your partner and not belittle or criticise them.
Stay On Point (Tackle One Issue At A Time)
This is an easy trap for couples and anyone else involved in an inter-personal disputes to fall into for that matter. Grievances can often be left unresolved for so long that when the eventual breaking point does arrive, it results in an unfocused recital of everything the other person has ever done wrong. This inevitably leads to confusion and then defensiveness, as there will be no clear through-line to what’s being said. The antidote to this is bringing up one issue at a time and not defending your position with instances of your partner’s ‘wrongdoing.’ This is what causes discussions to escalate into arguments.
Get Rid of the Shame, Blame and Guilt
These three actions combined are the source of much friction within inter-personal relationships of all descriptions. Shame, blame and guilt can be overt and obvious in emotionally abusive relationships, but there are equally as many instances where these three nags can operate on the more subtle level. It’s easy to resort to one of these actions to try and leverage your power or exert control or ‘win’ a particular confrontation. But the constant enactment and reliance on these tactics as a means of accomplishing your goals will only breed resentment. They will simply create more problems in the long run that will later need to be resolved. Become mindful and when you’re resorting to shame, blame and guilt. And above all – communicate at all costs.
About the author:
Dr Becky Spelman is a leading UK Psychologist who’s had great success helping her clients manage and overcome a multitude of mental illnesses.
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