By Sherrie Campbell, Ph.D., for GalTime.com
When we are unhappy in a relationship, we need to look to ourselves before we look at our partners -- even if we think they are the ones "making us unhappy." We are responsible for our own happiness, first of all. Secondly, before you can approach him or her for all of the issues you'd like fixed, you must examine your role, some of which may contribute to the relationship problems.
Here are seven tips to help you look in the mirror so you can communicate with your partner... and heal your relationship:
1. Resist complaining: Complaining is really a child's behavior and unattractive when it is coming from an adult. If there are things you are not happy about in the relationship, have a serious discussion about them and make it clear that you are willing to love yourself enough to leave the relationship if these issues cannot be worked upon.
2. Listen: Try not to interrupt or correct when your partner speaks. Each person has the right to his or her own perception. We cannot truly know another person's perception if we are too busy defending our own or need to have the last word. The definition of defensive is being closed to new information. Connection and understanding can only come from listening. When we truly listen we will better know where we can be more flexible and where we need to hold our limits.
3. State your wants: Instead of expressing dissatisfaction and starting the conversation from a negative place, start by expressing how you want things to be. When we are clear about what we want this keeps things moving forward into a new direction and, hopefully, a positive solution. There is nothing more off putting than constantly hearing how unhappy someone is. It is much better to hear what someone wants.
4. Give space when necessary: If your partner has become quiet, take notice of it and respect his or her space. It is unproductive to try and pull the concern(s) out into the open. Allowing space for your spouse to take responsibility for whatever he is feeling shows respect. Also, if you want to give a window to bring topics to the forefront, you could become a little quiet yourself in response to your partner's distance; may force a conversation when he or she is ready.
5. Respect the integrity of your relationship: Maintain the privacy and confidentiality of what your partner shares with you and refrain from sharing all your issues with friends and family. When nothing is private it allows other people's opinions to effect and damage our own perception of our relationships and it can serve to make others not like your partner. Plus, it is a violation of your spouse's privacy. A trust between spouses should be sacred.
6. Quality time: Give your partner undivided attention and love. We need to put down the phone or magazine and turn off the TV. Intimacy can only happen when people are taking time to genuinely connect and love each other. Talking, playing, being sexual and spending uninterrupted time is often all the relationship needs to repair and reignite the spark.
7. Love each other: Make an effort to consistently show your love that what he or she has to say is of great importance to you. To be acknowledged, heard, loved, recognized and understood are the basic things we need from those we love. It is easy to get lazy when we are in love but it is the last thing we should do. It shows a lack of gratitude for this great love we have in our life.
Many of us are so focused on our partner being our 'enemy' because they are not perfectly meeting our needs that we create unnecessary chaos to actually feel something. If we are doing this, then we are not anchored enough in loving ourselves. If we truly love ourselves we will be less needy of our partners and have less of a need to pick at them to change. The best gift you give to any relationship is to take full responsibility for loving yourself. In this way, you will have the ability to practice loving someone else in a more mature and independent way.
Little life message: All positive relationships are born out of the love you have for yourself.
More from GalTime.com:
Why You Should Hold 'Marriage Meetings'
When It Comes To Our Guys, Maybe Sometimes We Should Back Off
One Simple Tip to Keep Your Relationship Alive
6 Things Women Do To Push Men Away
Dr. Sherrie Campbell is the author of Loving Yourself and is a licensed Psychologist with more than nineteen years of clinical training and experience. She provides practical tools to help people overcome obstacles to self-love and truly achieve an empowered life. Click here to get her free article on Five Ways to Make Love the Common Ground in Your Communication. She is a featured expert on a variety of national websites and has a successful practice in Southern California. Receive free insights from Sherrie and to be involved in her Facebook community of others looking to improve their relationship. For more information visit http://www.sherriecampbellphd.com.