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The Only Relationship Help You Need to Save Your Relationship

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The Only Relationship Help You Need to Save Your Relationship

Everyone seems to be searching for one–The One. There are enough dating sites out there to indicate that people, young and old alike, want to be in a relationship, or at least save the one they have. People want to share their lives with another person; they want a witness to their journey. It would seem then, that finding someone and living a life with that person would be a cinch, a piece of cake, a walk in the park.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Building a strong and solid relationship can be as difficult as running a marathon without going through the proper training.

Think about it… How much training do we get in constructing and maintaining strong and healthy relationships? Parents have “The Talk” with their teens; schools focus on math and science; social media on “hooking up”, etc. But there are no schools out there that teach you how to help your relationship when it gets into trouble. And most relationships do, at one point or another. It’s a fact of life.

You can’t expect two people coming from different backgrounds to get along fabulously all the time; to never have disagreements that turn into something more serious. It is at these critical times that relationships need a save.

Perhaps you find yourself in a relationship such as this. If you do, I want to remind you that almost all relationships need saving every once in a while. That does not mean that the relationship is bad or that it’s doomed to fail. Before you call it quits, I’d like you to try the facilitative relationship savers below. They may sound silly and ineffective, but allow me to prove you wrong. They may, in fact, end up being the only relationship help you need. Remember, often the simplest things are the most effective.

Before I present you with these conducive approaches, keep in mind that in order to have a strong and healthy partnership you’ll need to have the following ingredients: 1) Trust 2) Loyalty 3) Honesty, 4) Respect, and 5) Compromise, to name but a few. The following suggestions will help you achieve these relationship must-haves.

So, without further ado, let’s begin!

1. Become Teammates

The first thing you need to remember is that you chose to make a life with this person. There are reasons you did so. No matter what’s going on right now to make you doubt that, look at your person and know that you’re both on the same team.

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Focus on your similarities; the things you love and respect about each other; the things that brought you together in the first place. Take time to review the history channel of your life with each other. You may currently be at odds, but if you say to yourself, “Wait a minute, this person is on my team. We are in this together! Maybe we just need a referee,” you might find your perspective shifting from Enemy to Ally.

Any time my husband and I have a falling out, or we start to argue, our reset is always to say: we’re on the same team! Let’s look at what’s really going on. How can we make things better, not worse?

Ask yourself, “What were our original goals? Do they need to be modified?” In her article, 12 Powerful Habits of Happy Relationships, Tiffany Mason writes, “Work as a team toward goals (short & long term).” When you understand you’re teammates, you’re more apt to want to work together for the benefit of the unit, not the benefit of the “I”. You’ll feel a camaraderie and discover that teamwork strengthens the relationship; that teamwork can save it by unifying it instead of ripping it apart.

When I was in graduate school, often times the professors would break us up into groups to work on certain projects. It would always turn out to be a huge bond-building exercise. The team members felt connected and worked steadfastly on promoting their team efforts.

2. Find a Common Ground

When you’re in the middle of a heated dispute, it’s important to find something on which you both agree. I once treated a couple fighting over what to do with their 7-year-old son. Dad wanted to send “Billy” to summer camp and Mom was dead set against it. He thought it would be good for Billy to have the experience away from home. Mom was fearful that Billy would be too far away, and should anything happen, they wouldn’t be there to care for him. The situation was tearing Mom and Dad apart. They needed a save.

Finding common ground did just that. In this case, the common ground was that they both loved Billy and wanted the best for him. Each of them had different ways of expressing that love. Once they remembered that they both had their son’s best interest at heart, they started talking. They agreed to let Billy go on the condition that they could call the camp site and check in on him. And if at any time Billy felt like he wanted to come home, they’d go pick him up. In order to find the much-needed common ground, it was necessary for both Mom and Dad to take a step back and listen to each other’s thoughts and ideas. They had to respect each other’s perspective and come to an understanding.

In an article written by Collen Morris, a counsellor and family therapist, she talks about “accepting influence.”[1] She states that in a conversation with your partner, that might mean saying “Good point”, or “I see”. She points out that, “Giving the respect of acknowledging your partner’s opinion is the beginning of negotiation…If that rarely happens in your relationship, it may be time to step back and listen to your partner’s thoughts on the subject at hand, instead of responding from a negative, closed position.”

3. Tell Your Partner What You Need

Nope, no one is a mindreader. Not you nor your partner. Yet often in relationships, you might hear someone say, “If he loved me, he’d know that I need some time away from cooking!” Or, “If she loved me, she’d let me spend some time with my buddies.”

One of the things that causes relationships to break down is a breakdown in communication. Each person is assuming that the other person should know what they want. In the film The Break-Up, starting Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn, there’s a scene that clearly encapsulates a total communication breakdown. Vince Vaughn’s character yells…

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“Fine! I’ll help you do the dishes.”

“That’s not what I want,” says Aniston’s character.

“You said that you want me to help you do the dishes.”

“I want you to want to do the dishes.”

And on it went. Neither one expressed what they wanted in a clear and concise way. This led to fight after fight until their relationship became too far gone to save.

If you want to save your relationship, one of the best saves is to communicate exactly what you need. Warning: Do not use your own personal language code.

For example, you’re sitting on the couch and are feeling a little cold. Instead of saying, “Honey, while you’re up, would you close the window for me?” You say, “I’m feeling a little chilly,” as you wrap your arms around yourself. Don’t make your partner guess, then punish them when they don’t guess correctly. It’s unfair and cruel.

You might have insight into your partner’s psyche, but you don’t know everything they need under every circumstance and vice versa. It’s important to Ask and Tell. Take all the guess work out of your relationship.

4. Give Your Undivided Attention

Recently, my husband, who installs home elevators, called to check in with me. He started telling me about the rails he was installing, the top of car wiring he still needed to do, the problematic door locks, and battery lowering something or other. He was going on and on in great detail. My eyes started glazing over. What the heck was he talking about? I found myself checking emails, Twitter, and Facebook.

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Then it hit me: I was not listening, only pretending to do so. I felt terrible. I knew better. I closed up all the windows and without any distractions, started to really listen. I realized that it was rude to be saying, “Mmm. That’s interesting! Rails? Cool!” when I had no clue what he’d said.

A relationship cannot be saved if you have no interest in your partner or what they do. Showing genuine interest in what your partner does can make or break the relationship. If your partner knows you’re interested in them, that you’re not on the phone, the computer or reading a magazine, but are truly invested in them, then you’re on your way to creating a stellar coupledom.

Your undivided attention can breathe life into a dying relationship. Why? Because it makes the person feel heard and special, as if they really matter. And isn’t that what we all want?

5. Play Games Together

No, not mind games. When was the last time you sat down and played Scrabble? Truth or Dare? Deal or No Deal. Playing together can be a way to bring fun back into a withering relationship.

When all you do is work and take care of business, letting your hair down and having some time together playing a game (that you can make trés romantique), might just be the save you need to bring your problematic relationship to life.

Playing games can, 1) Add a fun, competitive edge to your relationship. 2) Make you laugh. And 3) Get you in a good mood.

Being in a rut is one of the things that can make a couple feel as if their life together is circling the drain. No relationship is dead until one or both people give up. Before you do, get creative. You will be surprised how doing something as simple as playing a game can relax you and diminish any stress that’s currently infecting your connection with each other.

6. Send a Quote

Before you think I’ve lost my marbles, hear me out. Imagine that you’re really upset at your partner. Your anger has been bubbling for a while. He comes home every night and sits in front of the TV. It’s his way of winding down, but you feel excluded and unloved. You start to think, “hmm… this marriage sucks. It’s dead in the water.” You go upstairs to fold laundry and hear your phone vibrate. When you pick it up, you read: “You are the sexiest woman alive. So glad I married you.” How mad will you be then? I’d venture to guess, not so much. This is an invaluable save.

Don’t be underwhelmed by its simplicity. I guarantee you that if you send love quotes to your partner on a regular basis, you will be pleasantly surprised. Just this morning, after my husband left for work, I decided to send my own love quote. I wanted to test out the theory for myself. I texted, “My life wouldn’t be the same without you.” No more than three minutes passed before I received the following text in return, “Nor would mine, hon! You are the light that shines in my heart.” Awww…that made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I guarantee it will do the same for you.

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Sending loves quotes works! This is probably one of the most effectual saves. It’s easy, can evoke immediate feelings of love, and dissipate any residual anger you might have over some stupid, petty thing. I highly encourage you try it.

Final Thoughts

Right about now, you might be thinking to yourself, these “saves” are too simplistic. Being teammates, finding common ground, talking to your partner, paying attention, playing games, sending quotes? No way could any of these save my messed up relationship.

I beg to differ. All you have to do is implement these saves into your relationship. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Try one, two, three, or all of them. But give it the good, old college try.

Broken relationships can be fixed. But there has to be a genuine desire to do so.

You have to be willing to fight for the relationship, not to fight with each other to get out of it.

All relationships face challenges at one point or another. Don’t let that scare you. It is just an indication that you have to pay closer attention to what’s going on. Consider it a nudge. You may have fallen asleep at the wheel. Just refocus and get back on track before the relationship crashes.

“All relationships go through hell, real relationships get through it.” — TheloveBits

Using the six saves above can inject some much needed and beautiful energy into your troubled liaison. Sometimes all you need is to hit the reset button and start anew.

So what are you waiting for? Hit RESET!

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More About Saving a Relationship

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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Rossana Snee

Rossana is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She aspires to motivate, to inspire, and to awaken your best self!

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Last Updated on January 5, 2022

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

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How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

We all lose our temper from time to time, and expressing anger is actually a healthy thing to do in our relationships with others. Expressing our differences in opinion allows us to have healthy conflict and many times come to an agreement or understanding that works for everyone. However, there are times when anger can become overwhelming or damaging, and during these times, it’s important to learn how to deal with anger.

Expressing anger inappropriately can be harmful to relationships, both personal and professional. You may express too much anger, too often, or at times that are only going to make things worse, not better. In this article we will look at anger management techniques that will help you better control your emotions.

Let’s take a deeper look at how to deal with anger.

Expressing Anger

Anger is a natural and normal part of almost any relationship. This includes relationships with your significant other, kids, boss, friends, family, etc. Anger provides us with valuable information if we are willing to listen to it. It clues us in to areas where we disagree with others and things that need to be changed or altered.

Unhealthy Ways to Express Anger

Here are some common yet unhealthy ways to express anger that you should avoid:

Being Passive-Aggressive

This is a term many of us are familiar with. Passive-aggressive behavior happens when someone is angry but uses indirect communication to express their anger.

Some of the more common passive-aggressive behaviors include the silent treatment, making comments about someone behind their back, being grumpy, moody, or pouting, or simply not doing tasks or assignments that they should.

This is a passive-aggressive person’s way of showing their anger. It’s not very productive but extremely common.

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Poorly-Timed

Some people get overwhelmed and express anger in a situation where it can’t really do any good.

An example would be getting angry at one person in front of a crowd of people. All that does is make people uncomfortable and shuts them down. It’s not a healthy way to express anger or disagreement with someone.

Ongoing Anger

Being angry all the time is most often a symptom of something else. It’s healthy and normal to express anger when you disagree with someone. However, if someone is angry most of the time and always seems to be expressing their anger to everyone around them, this won’t serve them well.

Over time, people will start to avoid this person and have as little contact as possible. The reason being is no one likes being around someone who is angry all the time; it’s a no-win situation.

Healthy Ways to Express Anger

What about the healthy ways[1] to adapt? When learning how to deal with anger, here are some healthy ways to get you started.

Being Honest

Express your anger or disagreement honestly. Be truthful about what it is that is making you angry. Sometimes this will entail walking away and thinking about it for a bit before you respond.

Don’t say you’re mad at something someone did or said when it’s really something else that upset you.

Being Direct

Similar to being honest, being direct is a healthy way to express anger.

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Don’t talk around something that is making you angry. Don’t say that one thing is making you angry when it’s really something else, and don’t stack items on top of each other so you can unload on someone about 10 different things 6 months from now.

Be direct and upfront about what is making you angry. Ensure you are expressing your anger to the person who upset you or you are angry at, not to someone else. This is very counterproductive.

Being Timely

When something makes you angry, it’s much better to express it in a timely manner. Don’t keep it bottled up inside of you, as that’s only going to do more harm than good.

Think of the marriages that seem to go up in flames out of nowhere when the reality is someone kept quiet for years until they hit their breaking point.

Expressing anger as it occurs is a much healthier way of using anger to help us guide our relationships in the moment.

How to Deal With Anger

If you feel angry, how should you deal with it right at that moment?

1. Slow Down

From time to time, I receive an email at work that makes me so angry that steam is probably pouring out of my ears.

In my less restrained moments, I have been known to fire off a quick response, and that typically has ended about as well as you might imagine.

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When I actually walk away from my computer and go do something else for a while, I am able to calm down and think more rationally. After that happens, I am able to respond in a more appropriate and productive manner. Doing things that helps you learn how to release anger can make an uncomfortable situation more manageable before it gets out of hand.

2. Focus on the “I”

Remember that you are the one that’s upset. Don’t accuse people of making you upset because, in the end, it’s your response to what someone did that really triggered your anger. You don’t want to place blame by saying something like “Why don’t you ever put away your dishes?” Say something more like “Having dirty dishes laying on the counter upsets me—can you work with me to come to a solution?”

When you are accusatory towards someone, all that does is increase the tension. This doesn’t usually do anything except make your anger rise higher.

3. Work out

When learning how to deal with anger, exercise is a great outlet. If something happens that angers you, see if you have the opportunity to burn off some of the anger.

Being able to hit the gym to get a hard workout in is great. If this isn’t an option, see if you can go for a run or a bike ride. If you are at work when you become angry and the weather permits, at least go outside for a brisk walk.

Besides working some of your anger out through exercise, this also helps to give your mind a chance to work through some ways to address what it is that upset you.

4. Seek Help When Needed

There are times when we could all use some help. Life can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s perfectly fine to seek some help from a mental health professional if it will help you get back to a healthy balance.If you find that you are angry all the time, it might be a good idea to go talk to an expert about learning to control intense emotions. They can give you some sound advice and ideas on how to get your anger to a more manageable and healthy level.

5. Practice Relaxation

We all seem to lead incredibly busy lives, and that’s a good thing if we are loving the life we are living. That being said, it is very beneficial to our physical and mental well-being to take time out for relaxation.

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That can mean spending time doing things that help us calm down and relax, like being around people we enjoy, practicing deep breathing or listening to music. It could be making time for things that help bring us balance like a healthy diet and physical activity.

Many people incorporate techniques such as yoga and meditation to calm their minds and release tension when learning how to deal with anger. Whatever your choice is, ensure you take time out to relax when warning signs of anger start to bubble up.

6. Laugh

Incorporating humor and laughter on a regular basis will help keep anger in check and help you get over a bad mood and feelings of anger more quickly. This isn’t part of formal anger management techniques, but you’ll be surprised by how well it works. Remember, life is a journey that’s meant to be enjoyed fully along the way through healthy emotion. Make sure you take time to laugh and have fun.Surround yourself with people that like to laugh and enjoy life. Don’t work at a job that just causes you stress, which can lead to anger. Work at something you enjoy doing.

7. Be Grateful

It’s easy to focus on the bad in life and the things that cause us negative emotions. It’s vitally important to remind ourselves of all the wonderful things in life that bring us positive emotions, things that we easily forget because we get caught up in the whirlwind of day to day life.

Take time out each day to remind yourself of a few things you are grateful for in order to help you learn how to release anger and invite in more positive feelings.

Final Thoughts

Life can be overwhelming at times. We seem to have constant pressure to achieve more and to always be on the go or motivated. People we are around and situations we are in can cause stress, anger, and negative emotions. At times, it can seem to be too much, and we get angry and our emotions start to get out of control.

During these times, keep in mind that life is an incredible journey, full of wonder and things that bring you joy. When you find yourself angry more often than is healthy, take time out to remember the good things in life—the things that we seem to forget yet bring us so much positive energy and emotions.

Use some of the tips included here to help with how to deal with anger and better control your emotions.

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More Resources on Anger Management

Featured photo credit: Andre Hunter via unsplash.com

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