Improving relationships post Valentine’s Day

Speak your Mind by Dr Guru Kistnasamy

Many couples have exchanged gifts, flowers and chocolates on Valentine’s Day. The attention given and appreciation received brings people closer, however, the closeness should remain throughout the relationship.

Here are some ideas to improve your relationships not only on special days, but always:

(Ref: Psychcentral. C. Power).

  • Try first to understand before seeking to be understood. When you perceive something your partner says as being criticism, do you become defensive? If you do, you lose the opportunity to understand what your partner is thinking and feeling. Consider that your perception may be wrong.
  • Keep calm when discussing points of disagreement. The constant exchange of criticism and defensiveness can lead to anger and loss of control. When one or both of you become too emotional, take a break and resume your conversation later.
  • Be curious about your partner’s perspective. You may disagree but focus on how, why or where this view is coming from. This helps to ease the tension between you and leads to better understanding.
  • Identify your emotional triggers and learn to control them. Our upbringing, growing up experiences and previous relationships shape our perspective. You may hear something that triggers an emotion from your past, but may have nothing to do with your partner. Recognise the trigger and you will be less reactive.
  • Practise using empathy in your relationship. View the situation from the perspective of your partner. When you respond empathically, a deeper bond of trust and safety is created. In this climate of openness and trust, problems can be more easily resolved.
  • Listen for the unmet need or emotion. When your partner complains or you feel criticised or blamed, your partner may have an underlying unmet need, desire or unexpressed emotion. Go below the surface and try to identify this unmet need.
  • Anticipate issues before they become problems. Learn from past mistakes and avoid repeating them. Talk about small issues lest they accumulate to form resentments that can explode.
  • Like a fire, love needs to be nurtured. If not nurtured, the flame dies and only ashes remain.


Dr Guru Kistnasamy

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