A Portland Marriage Counselor Offers the Relationship “To-Do” List

April 29, 2013 by

As a Portland marriage counselor, I feel like I spend a lot of time telling my clients what not to do:

“Don’t get defensive.”

“Blaming is counterproductive.”

“Avoiding problems just makes them worse.”

But just as there are things that you should attempt to stay away from because they harm your relationship, there are just as many that you can engage in to strengthen it. In fact, increasing the number of positive interactions you have with each other can actually help you more than decreasing negative ones!

I’m calling this The Relationship “To-Do” List, and any couples in need of relationship help (and even those who aren’t!) should give it a try.

Portland Marriage Counselor: What’s on the Relationship “To-Do” List

So, what does this list consist of? Lots of things you’ve probably heard of before, and a few that maybe you haven’t. It also shouldn’t be seen as all-inclusive. Every couple has specific buttons they can push with each other, so find what works for you!

Listen. If there was one thing I would tell all couples to do, it’s listen to each other more. When someone listens in an engaged way, it makes the other person feel valued.

Ask what’s going on. Often we assume we know what our partner is thinking or feeling, but this just leads to problems. Ask about their day, their thoughts, their feelings, and then refer to the first item on the list!

Respect their point of view. It’s not about right or wrong, or winning them over to your side. Your two varying perspectives will often end up broadening your world and opening you up to new possibilities.

Wait your turn. Every conversation is really two conversations – the one where you actively listen and try to understand your partner, and the one where you share your thoughts and feelings.

Take a breath. Giving this advice is easy; doing it is hard. Most of us are naturally defensive, but when talking with our loved ones, we owe it to them to try to tone it down. If they say something that gets your hackles up, pause for a breath and think about where they’re coming from before responding.

Get Help From a Portland Marriage Counselor!

Sometimes you just can’t do it on your own – you need relationship help. You should never be afraid to seek out the advice of an experienced Portland marriage counselor and add to your own “to-do” list.