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Relationship Success - Five Tips

March 30, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 173

1. Ask.

If you want to know what your partner is thinking or feeling or needing or wanting, ask. It's nice when you care enough to guess. It's nicer, and much more likely to be accurate, if you actually ask. Generally speaking, partners feel that asking demonstrates caring.

Although it would be cool to be able to read each other's minds, that talent typically rests with superheroes more than partners. No matter how well you think you know your partner, guessing is still less accurate than asking. If you ask with a genuine wish to know, your partner is likely to experience the inquiry as loving.

2. Tell.

If you want your partner to know what you're thinking or feeling or needing or wanting, tell your partner. We sometimes get caught up in believing that IF our partner cared, s/he would already know. This is a dangerously counterproductive belief. Not only does it rely on the abovementioned magical mind-reading, but it also defines every non-telepathic partner (which is all of them) as uncaring. This is so unfair. What defines caring partners is not magical abilities but wanting to know what their partners want and need. Trust that your partner cares enough to want to know -- tell.

3. Listen, attentively.

It doesn't do any good to ask if you're not going to pay attention to the answer. Listening attentively means making eye contact, turning your body toward your partner, turning off or putting away all distractions, and making your partner's answer the most important thing at that moment. It is important to sustain this attentiveness until your partner has fully and completely told whatever s/he is willing to share at this time. It is a very affirming experience to be listened to in this way.

4. Understand

Listening, even attentively, can only carry you so far if you don't understand what your partner is trying to tell you. Understanding requires a commitment of energy and caring. It requires that you clarify anything that you don't think you understand and confirm that what you think you understand is in fact what your partner was trying to communicate to you. This is where a breakdown between attempted transmission of a message and the actual reception of that message would be revealed. If you commit yourself to understanding, you commit yourself to a process that will result in a successful match between transmission and reception. It can be exhilarating to feel a partner's commitment to understanding you this fully.

5. Be responsive

Now that you've asked, told, listened, and understood, it's time to do something with all that information. When I talk about being responsive, I'm saying that you need to demonstrate to your partner that what you have heard and understood matters to you. It means that your thinking, your words, your behavior, and your choices are influenced in some way by what you now know. If I hear that you're cold and scared and I give you my sweater and hold you close, I'm being responsive. If you've told me and I've understood that you hate peas in your stew, and then I intentionally add peas, then I'm not being responsive. If you tell me that you're worried about your job and I ignore that information as if you never said it, then I'm not being responsive. If you tell me that you want me to quit my job and run away to the circus with you, I don't have to be responsive by running away to the circus. But I need to demonstrate that I care about what you're saying, perhaps by inviting you to tell me about your need to make such a radical change and ask if you've always wanted to be a lion tamer.

These five tips won't guarantee a successful relationship. The truth is though that without these five things no relationship has much chance of success. By implementing these five things you make a fine start toward a healthy and satisfying relationship. If you're already in a not-so-successful place in a relationship, try using these five tips to get yourself to solid ground. They can't hurt and they may be the lifeline that you need.

Dr. Benna Sherman has been a Licensed Psychologist in private practice in Severna Park, Maryland, for over 20 years. She has a specialty in Marriage/Relationship Counseling and writes a biweekly newspaper column on relationships. Her book, "How to Get and Give Love - Relationship Maps", is about to be published and will be available on Learn more about Dr. Sherman, subscribe to her free newsletter, and read more of her articles at

Source: EzineArticles
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