Emotional Fitness

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10 Ways Couples Can Work It Out

Couples who try to work things out have the best relationships.

The Beatles were still in their twenties when they wrote "We Can Work It Out," but somehow they understood that even though resolving issues can be hard, it is better than trashing a relationship, job or friendship. Here are ten tips to help you work things out.

1. When you're having a difficult discussion, put your angry emotions aside. You can't be logical when you're mad. If you can't contain your ire, it may be best to put talking on hold until after you calm down.

2. It's not about who's right or wrong. If you try to blame your partner or make him or her wrong, you won't find an answer. You both have to take responsibility for getting your relationship back on a positive track.

3. Look for the high road and discuss what's best for both of you. Don't settle for anything less than equality and the knowledge that you are doing the right thing for yourself and your partner.

4. Be humble and don't rub your partner's nose in a misstep. If you gently share you feelings, whichever of you is the offending party will learn from his or her mistake much easier.

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5. Agree to disagree (without being disagreeable). But don't settle for less than a complete acceptance of each other's point of view. If you walk away disappointed, you have not resolved your issue. For a relationship to work, you both have to feel like you have your partner's support.

6. Always have difficult conversations in private. If you have kids, you don't want them to pick up the negativity; it can make them feel insecure. Remember that you can be heard behind closed doors, so keep the volume low and the vibe as calm as possible.

7. Before making a decision about how to handle a problem, make sure you consider all of your options. This requires some brainstorming and working together to create a positive solution. If done correctly, this process alone can heal the difficulty.

8. Don't rush to judgment. You may not be able to come up with the best answers in the moment, so sleep on it before you decide on a course of action. If you still cannot reach a meeting of the minds, put the issue aside and look at it again in a few days.

9. Trust that you can find an answer that will work for both of you. Going into the discussion with an optimistic heart and mind will make working it out much easier.

10. Consolidate the gains of your discussion. Review out loud what you agreed upon, put it in writing if it helps, and then kiss and make up.

Most people avoid difficult conversations because they fear having an uncomfortable moment. I think a bad few minutes is better than an uncomfortable life. Truth is that couples who embrace the desire to work things out have the best relationships. Period.

 

Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, columnist, and radio host. His latest book is The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.

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