These days, most of us are accustomed to using third-party resources to support what’s most important to us. We go to the gym to take care of our bodies, we use financial advisors to manage our money, realtors to find our homes, and travel agents to plan our vacations. We outsource calendars and friendships and meal plans to smartphone apps and yet, when it comes to the health of our relationships, many of us are hesitant to explore therapy as a preventative tool for problems down the road.
However, what many of us fail to realize is that a lasting relationship required work and seeking outside help when required. Scheduling a teletherapy session with an experienced therapist is convenient and can help you work through relationship issues – but why wait? Here are five tips to get started today.
Improve your communication
The most common thing that motivates couples to seek counseling/therapy after marriage is pain – when something is not going right and there is usually a communication breakdown. Most people lack healthy give-and-take, listening, and talking skills that are vital for good communication. Whether the issue is money, children, work/career, in-laws, or other environmental stressors, the bottom line is that people don’t know how to talk with each other about difficult things. An easy and simple way to eliminate that communication gap is to identify your thoughts or feelings with your partner and then keep those elements in mind when confronting the issues and owning up to your feelings by the use of “I.”
Unplug from your phones
Most of us spend far too much time on our phones these days. We might not even be fully aware of how many hours we spend looking at a screen because so many useful things are on our devices that we rely on every day, from work emails to grocery delivery apps, it’s all there. But this can mean that we’re less present for the people we love the most. Be sure to designate a time when the phones and tablets are put away and it’s just you and your loved ones. It can be tempting to distract ourselves when we’re under stress or things don’t seem to be going well, but if we’re going to improve our relationships we have to first show up.
Strengthen your bond by keeping yourself accountable
Hearing your own voice verbalizes problems and issues in therapy and forces you to acknowledge your own shortcomings, whereas hearing someone else bring up your shortcomings is likely to upset you. If you find yourself getting increasingly upset or defensive when your partner brings up his or her concerns, try implementing one of the following relaxation techniques such as practicing slow, focused breathing or going for a walk. You can also try to write down your feelings instead or visualize a relaxing experience ingrained in your memory.
Learning to take responsibility in your relationship is a vital key to keeping that bond strong, but keep in mind that nobody and no relationship is perfect. You must be able to tease apart what is our own unfinished business and what issues belong to our partner. Most people are too quick to look outward and point a finger at the other and this leads to more fights and misunderstandings. Always best to first take that painful look within and be accountable for your own mistakes before judging and blaming the other person. That is the powerful value of talking to a stranger. It also helps you become more flexible and open-minded, which are two qualities required for good mental health.