As couples therapists, we help couples learn how to manage conflicts better. We teach you tools and help you understand your partner better. Wouldn’t you also like to have less conflict to manage in the first place?
One way to decrease conflict in your relationship is to improve the quality of your interactions when you’re NOT arguing. The more you tune in to your partner emotionally, the more resilient your relationship becomes. Tuning in and engaging emotionally takes work and intention.
If you’re very busy, working long hours or raising kids, or both, the potential time you can spend together is limited. When you finally get to spend time with your mate, it may be late at night when you’re tired. You used up your social energy with the other people you talked to throughout the day. Maybe what you want to do then is sleep, catch up on work or housework, spend time alone, or watch TV. You’re home, you’re finally with someone who loves and accepts you in your sweat pants, and you don’t want to work hard.
You’ve got an important choice to make, and that choice makes a difference in the quality of your relationship.
If you choose to tune in to your partner and give them the best of you, the engaged you who asks questions and shows concern, you build the emotional safety and closeness in your relationship. That helps you decrease your conflict. If you turn away from your partner and don’t tune in, you lose that opportunity.
Here’s an example:
It’s 9:00. Jess just got home from work. She’s been in meetings almost all day, and answering emails in the moments in between. She’s been giving out energy to coworkers, and she wants to be quiet and read. She sees Jack as she comes in, and he’s clearly ready to talk. He’s had a tough day and wants to vent to Jess. Her decision in this moment is whether to push herself to tune in and listen, or to tell him she’s out of steam. If Jess can give her full self to Jack for even 5 or 10 minutes, she will shore up the safety and closeness in the relationship.
No one can tune in and engage all the time. The goal is not to get it right 100 percent of the time, rather it’s about placing a priority on the quality of your interactions with your partner. You give parts of yourself all day to people who matter less to you. Make sure you give the best of yourself to the person who matters most.
Do you need some help with your relationship? Call us at (415) 534-4051or schedule a free consultation now.