Wright Foundation | June 17, 2015

3 Keys to Better
in Relationships

Everyone knows that committed relationships take hard work, open communication, and self-reflection.

Sometimes someone says or does something the other person doesn’t like. Sometimes we end up thinking, “I wish I wouldn’t have said that.” We try our best to be loving and supportive partners, but during heated moments it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture or to let something slip we didn’t really mean.

Within any relationship, there are always opportunities to improve your communication with your partner. Here’s how…

1. Remember Where Your Emotions Come From

When you’re in a conflict, you can use the fight as an opportunity to grow, learn, and develop. 80% of hurt in fights is historic: something happening now reminds you of the past and brings up those old feelings. For example, an interaction with your partner could stir up feelings of embarrassment due to a similarly embarrassing experience from your childhood. This emotional charge could prevent you from equipping yourself for the conflict and cloud your judgment. Be assertive with your feelings and make them known. If you need to, take a break from the conflict to get your bearings straight.

2. Stop Managing and Communicate What You Yearn For

During any sort of conflict, it’s important to keep the focus on your feelings and the feelings of your partner. The goal is not to change them. Instead, it’s about finding common ground. It’s easy to get into the bad habit of trying to micromanage your partner and the way he or she does things. You may be doing it subtly or even subconsciously. The other person may be feeling managed due to the words or body language choices you’re making. Stop and take the time to understand their reactions. Then you can both communicate what you’re yearning for and reveal the true roots of the conflict.

3. Don’t Forget the Rules of Engagement

There are actually 7 ground rules for conflict, which we will reveal in our book,  The Heart of the Fight from New Harbinger Publications. Available now from Amazon!

For now, let’s break down 3 of the big ones:

Each person is responsible for 100% of their own happiness.

It’s not up to your partner to make you feel satisfied. It’s completely up to you. Reflect on the things you yearn for in life: what really makes you feel engaged in this world? When you understand how to make yourself happy, you’ll no longer need to rely on others. Yes, your partner may make you feel emotionally, sexually, or socially satisfied—but only YOU are behind the definition of what that really means.

Nobody gets more than 50% of the blame in a fight.

It may be tough at times, but regardless of what the fight is about, no one gets more than half of the blame. Period. There may be times when you could easily admit your part in a scenario. For example, you know that you did in fact leave the car windows rolled down when it was raining. However, when conflicts are deeper or when you feel you own none of the blame, it’s time to get completely honest with yourself about the situation. Ask yourself what your role in the conflict was, even if it seems minute at the time. If the roles were reversed, what could you have done to prevent the situation from happening? Own up to your part in the fight, whether it’s obvious or not.

Agree with the truth, always.

This can be quite difficult, because it means admitting someone else may be right. Sometimes the truth hurts, but you have to face the facts when your significant other makes a statement you know isn’t false. Instead of getting defensive, once again look within and own the truth. It’s been said that it shall set you free, after all—so make every effort possible to keep the facts straight and the drama down low.

It’s not always easy to be in a relationship and it can be really easy to feel as though you’re not communicating with your partner. Communication is about honesty, both within yourself and with your partner. Keep your personal emotions in check during times of heated conflict or things could be become much worse. Remember the rules of engaging in conflict. Focusing on these 3 keys to better communication will ensure you and your partner will be able to learn and grow from each new situation.

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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential the a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.