Blame,  Boundaries,  Emotions

Five things you can do today to improve your relationship

Five simple steps you can take today to improve your relationship with your partner.

Hi, my name is Michelle Marshall and I’m Bon’s first guest blogger and wanted to thank him for asking me to do this. I’m currently working on a book about improving your marriage/relationship. My daughter and Bon’s went to the same therapist group. I’ve adapted some principles from that therapy as well as some other experiences I’ve had with my husband.

Here goes:

  1. Drop the “shoulds” and practice acceptance.  You can’t change other people’s feelings or actions. You have no control over the other person, even your partner. While you may feel that things should be different in your relationship, there’s much less suffering when you accept things as is and then go from there. True acceptance is profound, subtle and powerful. As Albert Ellis once said: “Acceptance is not love. You love a person because he or she has lovable traits, but you accept everybody just because they’re alive and human.”
  2. Remember that the relationship is not a standalone thing. A relationship is not a living, breathing thing that can exist independently of the people involved. It arises dependent upon the people involved. In relationship both party must be sensitive on their partners feelings, if you struggle to read them, many valuable lesson you can learn at Unfortunately, in my own mind, I use language in the traditional way – that the relationship is actually a thing. It’s difficult (for me anyway) to think of the relationship as a relationship between two things (being people in this case). The very word relationship means (according to the dictionary’s first definition): “the way in which two or more people, groups, countries, etc., talk to, behave toward, and deal with each other.” It’s about interaction, not an independently existing thing.
  3. Think you are not soul-mates. At the beginning of our relationship, I began to believe that my partner and I were “made for each other” – that we were soul-mates. I know that he felt the same way about me. What we had together was special – it was he and I against the world. We would “win” based on the strength of our love alone. In the intervening decades of being together, I’ve come to the realization that this belief put undue pressure on one another. While being soul-mates was a romantic and grand vision for the relationship, the reality of day-to-day living couldn’t live up to the big idea. The notion that we were soul-mates was unrealistic, overly romantic and, at some level, delusional. When the image of what our relationship “should be” and the reality of what it was clashed, strife and conflict resulted – even if only inside my own head.
  4. Think you are not clones. I thought that my partner and I were a male and female version of one person. Because I thought he was my soul-mate and that we were destined to be together always, I just had a deep belief that he felt exactly the same way about the world as I did. While we share the same political beliefs, religious views, children and bed, it never occurred to me that his experience of the world was different than mine. We’ve been together for decades, and it just seemed “right” that when something happened in life, he’d feel the same way I did about it. Your partner is not a clone of you. He/she is actually an entirely different person, with different feelings and, most importantly,  a different experience of the world.
  5. Remember you’re on the same team. Although it might not seem like it at times, you and your partner are on the same team. Too often, my partner and I would be butting heads over some issue like we were locked into a war with one another. We certainly were not acting as if we were on the same team.  Just remembering that we are supposed to be on the same team, rather than at odds with one another is helpful. Any person, whether the person is a spouse, child, friend or sibling, likes to know that someone else is on there “side,” even if there are no real sides in an issue.

I hope that the above 5 things you can do are helpful for your relationship with your partner.

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