When it comes to relationships, it’s really important to think about how your actions are affecting your partner on a daily basis. It’s really easy to forget how everything you do affects other people. So, how do you use critical thinking skills in your relationship to better your relationship? Well, you ask one important question. Am I helping or am I hurting my relationship with my actions?
Get in the Habit
First, let’s talk about getting in the habit of asking the question. When you’re making mindless decisions or you’re on auto-pilot, you can easily offend your partner without even knowing it. That means if you have someone, like an ex, talk to you on social media, you can easily get into a conversation without even realizing how this can affect your partner in the future. What if they found out? How would they feel? These are all questions that should come up constantly. But you have to get into the habit of asking them.
How about if you come home late without consulting your partner? Perhaps they cooked dinner for you and they really slaved over that stove. You get home an hour late and you’re just thinking, “Oh, I was just at the office. This is just what I do.” Well, in their mind, they feel disrespected. They feel like their effort toward you was not acknowledged. So, it’s really easy to get yourself into a conflict or an argument because you did not ask “how is this affecting my partner?”
An easy way to get into the habit of asking this question is by putting yourself in your partner’s shoes. Ask, “How would my partner feel if I were saying this about them? Or, how would I feel if my partner said something about me that was disrespectful, or even respectful?” So just constantly putting yourself in your partner’s shoes can really eliminate a lot of problems couples see on a day to day basis.
Become More Flexible
It’s really easy to become rigid and resistant when it comes to doing things. But the truth is that one partner may have a preference for something that the other doesn’t even care about. It’s important to think along the lines of “well, if my partner cares about this more than I do, maybe I can be a bit more flexible.”
An example from my marriage involves Thanksgiving. My husband loves football and every Thanksgiving, a football game takes place. I don’t like turkey and we didn’t have a child. We decided that rather than spend Thanksgiving day together, my husband would fly out to the game and we would spend the next day together instead. Some people found that strange, but I was willing to be flexible because it meant a lot to my husband to be at the game. That works for us.
You have to decide what works for your relationship and what each of you can be flexible on and what you can’t be flexible on. When you come to that agreement, you will see your relationship flow smoother and smoother.
Put Your Ego Aside
It’s really important for competitive couples to win. Who’s going to do this? Who’s going to do that? Win, win, win! You will be really shocked to see how internally someone processes getting their way as a win. Sometimes, that does not serve your relationship at all.
That only serves on the court, not in your relationship. My challenge to couples is to put your ego to the side and realize you don’t have to win everything. Sometimes winning means letting the other person go. Think about that if you have always tried to dominate the conversation, or tried to be right. It’s just important to say, “You know what, it’s not that serious. Let’s just go with who works with what best.”
Create Boundaries of Respect and Consideration
I don’t think couples realize how not having boundaries or enough structure around boundaries causes a lot of disrespect in the relationship. Each of you needs to figure out what is respectful for you. If it’s not met with respect, it’s an automatic trigger. For instance, if you get into an argument and your partner walks out or goes to your in-laws’ house, that might be an abandonment trigger for you. This can be a situation where you sit down with each other and figure out what are some things that you do that affect your partner in a negative way. This helps you to be mindful enough to not continue those behaviors.
This goes back to asking the question, “Am I helping or hurting my relationship?” Is your partner sensitive in a particular area? Is teasing or flirting or staying out late or getting drunk something that bothers them. It’s important to ask your partner and become more aware of each other’s triggers and respect their boundaries.
These steps are all really simple but critical things that can either make or break your relationship. Just remember to keep asking that one important question: “Am I helping or hurting my relationship?”
About the Author: Emma J. Wallace, M.Ed is a Licensed Associate Professional Counselor Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: www.unscriptedworks.com, Twitter: www.twitter.com/askemmaj, Facebook: www.facebook.com/askemmaj