The Following a steps that can be taken to reverse the "Four Horsemen" and to generally have better relationships. Remember, it is a choice that we have to make as an individual. I didn't say it was easy or fun but if you make the choice to change in the long run you will be happier and healthier for making that decision.
1. Nurture your friendship. Take time to talk and ask questions. What do you know about that person you are in relationship with? Do you know their likes and dislikes, dreams, worries, fears and hopes? Do you know what types of pressures he or she faces at work or at home? The basis of a good marriage is a solid friendship. If a marriage is not built on a strong friendship, it may be difficult to stay connected over time. Make sure you take some time each day to communicate. During these times, make it a priority to listen and learn about your partner’s thoughts, feelings, and ideas.
2. Actively take steps to create love and admiration for the person you are in relationship with . Gottman says this is the antidote to contempt. Remind yourself of their good qualities. Why were you attracted to your spouse in the first place? What did you originally love or admire about them? By nurturing your fondness for your spouse, you can foster a much more positive attitude toward him or her.
3. Always behave respectfully toward your spouse or anyone that you want to have a healthy relationship with . In relationships that deteriorate over time, respect becomes increasingly absent. Sadly, sometimes people end up treating their spouses worse than they would ever treat a complete stranger. By tolerating or engaging in disrespectful behavior, you actively contribute to the demise of your relationship. Do you ever call your spouse names? Do you ever berate your partner in front of your friends or family? Do you consider how your spouse will be affected by your cruel comments or actions? Take stock of ways you or your spouse may cross the line of respect. Remember that without respect, love cannot survive. This is one of the biggest destroyers of relationship - lack of respect. What you don't respect you will loose.
4. Accept and validate your partner. Recognize how much power you have to build up your spouse up or tear him or her down. You can help make your relationship or your home heaven or hell on earth. Remember, everyone needs to feel accepted for who they are as a human being. Instead of attacking your spouse, try to understand his or her point of view. Also, compliment your spouse for ways he or she supports you and your relationship. It’s easy to get so focused on what is wrong in a relationship that you miss what is actually working.
5. Forgive one another. When your partner genuinely reaches out to ask for forgiveness, do not turn away. Hurt feelings and conflict are inevitable at times. When attempts to repair this hurt are repeatedly rejected, the relationship takes a hit. You may need time to let go of a grudge, bitterness, or feelings of hurt, but don’t close the door completely on your partner’s attempts to make things better. Reach deep inside and work on healing together.
6. Calm down. When conflict escalates, people can become “flooded” by strong emotions, leading to physical distress, stonewalling and defensiveness. Take a few deep breaths or call a time out. Most people need about 30 minutes to actually calm their bodies down. Take the time and come back to the issues at hand when you can actually listen to what the other person is saying without being overwhelmed.
7. Be a Team: Remember that good marriages involve give and take. You are on the same team and need to work together for the sake of your relationship.
8. Warm up your relationship. Keep your relationship healthy by ensuring that there are at least five positive interactions for every negative one. Gottman’s research has identified that a 5:1 ratio of positive interactions to negative ones is linked to the stability of a marriage, no matter what your typical style of resolving conflict. If there is too much negativity, the relationship suffers.
9. Learn to let some things go. Although your spouse may do things that drive you crazy, remember you have a choice, you do not have to react to it. It is not worth it to struggle over every little thing. Solve the problems that are solvable and let the others go. You must learn to pick your battles carefully.
10. Work on yourself. What type of partner are you? Do you work with your partner or pull hard in another direction? Remember you control 50% of what happens in your relationship. Be sure you are a good partner.
You will notice that the majority of these tips take you deciding to do the right thing, to say the right thing, to have the right attitude. You may say, it's not fair that I am the one doing all the changing, but that is when you have to ask yourself - "Do I want a healthy and happy relationship?" If the answer is yes, then fair or not you are the one that has to begin to change. If you do I can tell you that in "most" instances it will bring change to that other person also but most of all you will feel good about you.
Tomorrow we will talk about how to communicate our hurts in a healthy way.