Here’s my list of nine simple things that give our relationships the best chance of thriving. They are based on decades of studying what keeps relationships stuck and what helps them get unstuck.
Of course, I mean simple to understand in theory and difficult to put into practice. Relationships are messy and complicated. Change is never easy.
If you want a better relationship your challenge is:
*To offer a heartfelt apology when an apology is due.
*To make the other feel special, valued and respected.
*To listen without defensiveness to the other person’s anger and pain even when he or she is accusing you of causing it.
*To do the things that you say you are going to do.
*To have clear limits of what you can give, do, and tolerate.
*To focus on changing your own steps in the dance rather than waiting for the other to change first.
In order to make this list a practice you’ll need to have goodwill and a genuine wish to create a better relationship.
You’ll also need a willingness to focus on your self, which does not mean self-blame but rather the capacity to observe and change your own part of a problem that brings you pain.
It helps if you occasionally muster the maturity to bring your best self to the relationship even when the other person is being a jerk.
It’s fine to start small. Small, positive changes have a way of morphing into more generous, expansive ones.