4 Steps To Transforming Relationships
Do you want your relationships to improve but not sure how to get there?
Relationships take WORK, but they are much easier with the right tools. This article shows you how to make major shifts in your relationships. Let's get started!
1. It starts with you
If you want your relationships to change, it starts with you. Even if the other person has no interest in changing, you have more power than you think. One person can set the tone simply by making small but steady changes.
For instance, manners are usually the first to go when there is tension. Put back the please and thank you like when you were dating. Notice their efforts - no matter how small. Feeling appreciated goes a long way!
Remember if you want better behavior, you have to model it. It sets the tone. Sometimes, they follow. Plus, it's great example for your kids.
You might be thinking...
"What about my partner, I'm not the problem." The ability to look at your part is the first step. When you change, the relationship changes. For example, stop blaming and avoid that criticism/defensive cycle. Instead, use I messages.
Don't say "Why can't you just do what I asked?" say, "I feel frustrated when you didn't do the laundry like you agreed." Simple but effective.
2. Increasing awareness
The second step to improving relationships is increasing awareness of what you're doing. Here's a mini-check list to get your started.
In your relationships...
- Can you talk to your partner (mostly) without having a harsh or critical tone?
- Are you able to repair hurts in the moment or soon after?
- Are old resentments getting in the way of feeling close again?
- Do you avoid asking for what you want directly?
- Is you or your partner's anger creating problems?
Getting clear on what the problem is opens the door for positive change. If communication is a challenge Read my blog Can We Talk Without Losing it?
Note - If you think the other person is the problem that might actually be the problem! Focusing on what the other person does continues the blame game. This has to stop before any significant improvement can be made.
Once you figure out what isn't working, you're ready to move on to the next step.
3. The power of accountability
Taking responsibility separates those who struggle in relationships from those who thrive. Looking at yourself contributes to the solution. It starts with a simple apology or "You may be right." That can be powerful bridge towards a solution.
Next time you say something you regret go back and acknowledge it. You'll be amazed. Suddenly there is no need to go into attack/defend mode. Your partner feels heard and you start to feel close again. Admitting your mistakes builds intimacy.
Sometimes, the other will follow and apologize for their part too!
4. Taking action
Next is learning which action to take. Here are some questions to get you started.
- Do you give in too easily then feel resentful? If so, start saying no thank you!
- Are you in an abusive or one-sided relationship? Do you need help to end it?
- Do you blame your partner for your unhappiness? Take responsibility for your own joy!
- Are you expecting your partner to fulfill most of your needs? Get your needs met elsewhere too!
Tips to improve
- Change the focus from You to I statements
- Don't neglect yourself for the relationship
- Set appropriate limits by choosing what you do
- Learn to use time-outs to avoid blow ups
- Acknowledge your part
- Have a support system to avoid dependency issues
- Find help if you can't leave
Relationships change when you do something different even if you are the only one practicing it. When you get healthier, the decision to leave or stay becomes more clear.
These tools help you can ask for what you need and be more realistic in your expectations.