Nurture intimate relationships

Remember, conflict is the killer of love.

by Don Mordasini — 

With greater economic freedom, more couples in mid-life are separating and divorcing rather than working to resolve their relationship problems. Statistics have consistently shown that happily married couples live longer, avoid depression and suffer fewer ailments.

This being the case, I find it surprising that very little is written on the subject. As a psychotherapist, I am suggesting a number of specific ideas you can use to increase intimacy, nurture your partner and expand your capacity to love.

Resolving differences 

Remember, conflict is the killer of love.

• You live in different worlds. You cannot understand your partner’s world if you stay in your own. As an exercise, allow your partner to express his views on any subject for three minutes. Your job is to listen and not prepare a retort or defense. Rather, try to offer encouraging gestures or brief affirmative comments that show you are listening. Then reverse the process and have your partner summarize what you said.

• Avoid the need to be right. This means you make your partner wrong. How do you feel when you are told you are wrong? Make a habit of using the word “opinion.” For example: My opinion is this because I perceive things this way. Ask, “How do you see things? What is your opinion?”

• Leave the past in the past. In resolving differences, do not bring up the past but rather work to solve the issue at hand. Avoid saying things like, “Last time you were wrong.” Treat the discussion like a business discussion. Find a middle ground and compromise. If you cannot compromise, then take turns by having your partner choose his course of action. The next impasse you meet, you get to choose.

• Avoid words that create automatic defensive reactions. Do not make demands. Do not use command words such as, “Do this,” or “Do that.” Make requests or ask questions: “Will you be taking out the garbage? Will you be doing the dishes tonight?”

Avoid the words “why” and “how come.” They are universally used in speaking to children and trigger the less-than-mature parts of ourselves. Rather, say, “Did you plan to do this? Shall I remind you? Will you be doing this?”

Command words and “why” words are typically used when talking down to a subordinate and create defensiveness amongst equals.

• Do not try to change your partner. Do you like to be forced to change? Even though you have imperfections, do you want someone to change you? Your partner feels the same way.

Change yourself and more closeness will come. Work on clearing your personal debris. As a couple, you are connected energetically, and as you work on your own issues, your softness will create closeness.


Don Mordasini, M.A., MFT, a former stockbroker turned clinical psychotherapist, has helped families by using the best of Western and Eastern psychology with modern medicine. He is the author of Wild Child: How to Help Your Child With ADD and Other Behavioral Issues and Princes and Ogres: Integration of Psyche and Soul.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 31, Number 5, October/November 2012.

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