Everyone agrees that the best way to learn about anything is to experience it first hand, and so it goes for relationships. Yet, one couldn't possibly experience everything and still, he needs to know a lot more than what his previous experiences had taught him, for that books exists, not only to teach you what you need to know, but also to help understand your relationship, partner and most importantly, yourself!
Below are some lessons I've from reading a relationship book called “Relationship rescue” for “Phillip C. McGraw. Ph.D.” I wanted to share with you:
1- There is nothing wrong with legitimate criticism or input in a relationship. There is nothing wrong when one party complains about the actions or attitudes of another. If that complaint is designed to improve the relationship. But constructive criticism too often gives way to constant fault finding, in which you obsess over the flaws and imperfections rather than find value in your partner. You’re almost always telling your partner, in one form or another, what he or she should be doing. No matter what your partner does or how hard he or she tries, it’s not enough or it’s never as correct as you wish it to be.
2- Passive aggression might seem a far less harmful characteristic than open aggression. That’s not true. Passive aggression is still aggression. It is still a spirit that expresses itself through an unfair attack on an unsuspecting partner. Those who are controlled by the passive-aggressive spirit are masters at what I call “sabotage with deniability”. They try to thwart their partner by constantly doing that which they deny they are doing or the exact opposite of what they say they’re doing. In other words, in your passive way, you aggressively hurt your relationship. Such an attitude is terribly frustrating for your partner, especially when it comes to improving the state of your relationship.
3- When you get too comfortable in your relationship, you get accustomed to where you are. You get used to a style of living, to a pattern with your partner that you decide is not really what you want, not very satisfying or challenging but is okay. You decide okay will do for now. It’s not what you wanted, it’s not what you dreamed about, but it becomes familiar and it is easy. You decide it’s better for yourself if you don’t reach for more. You must break through denial, stop justifying your own passivity, and stop avoiding the challenge of change. It requires some courage and commitment, but as you’ll soon see, it is not that difficult to step away once and for all from a life of dull complacency.
4- There is no right way and wrong way to make your relationship great. Do not be rigid and judgmental about your partner’s thoughts and feelings, and behavior. There is, for example, not a right way or a wrong way for your partner to love you. If he or she shows love in a way that is different from the way you think it should be displayed, that does not mean that the quality of what your partner is giving you is less than it would be if he or she were thinking, feeling, or behaving in the way that you have arbitrarily decided is right.
5- Accept your partner. The number one need in all people, including you and your partner, is the need for acceptance. The number one fear among all people, including you and your partner, is that of rejection. The need for acceptance is so profound that most, if not all, issues that cause conflict in a relationship ultimately come down to one or both partners feeling rejected, and in turn, wanting to feel accepted. The spirit of acceptance is a core requirement for nourishing a reconnection. When you exhibit a spirit that indicates that you accept your partner, you’re saying that even though you may not like everything that your partner is doing, things are still okay; we’re going to get along right now, and most important, we are going to feel safe with each other.
6- Focus on the friendship in your relationship. The core elements of friendship are basically pretty simple. Friends treat each other in positive and rewarding ways. Friends are also loyal and make sacrifices for each other. Friends are there for each other even when it would be easier not to. A really good friend is someone who’s coming in the door when everyone else is running out. A good friend sticks with his friends in front of others, never criticizing him or her in public. A good friend approaches a relationship with a spirit of giving rather than the spirit of taking.
7- Aim your frustrations in the right direction. Life can be frustrating at times, you may go through your day or your week stockpiling frustrations, small and large, from any number of sources. The problem, as far as your relationship is concerned, is that when you start looking for an outlet for venting your frustrations, your intimate partner is way too handy. A partner who didn’t have anything to do with any of the things that are bugging you. You can’t change what you do not acknowledge, and one of the most powerful tools you have to make your relationship better is your simple acknowledgment that you are displacing much of your anger and frustration from other sources on your mate.
8- Be up-front and forthright. We all have the tendency to get nervous and defensive when we get close to dealing with meaningful emotional issues. Sometimes, we will switch our emotions to keep from expressing a real one. The best example is anger. When we fear rejection, instead of being forthright and telling our partner we fear rejection, we will act angry. What we are doing is essentially getting to our partners before they can get to us. We are rejecting them before they have the chance to be critical and reject us. Get real with yourself so you ca be real with your partner. And don’t be defensive when your partner has the insight and willingness to look behind your anger and challenge you to speak about what is really going on. Be willing to be introspective enough to identify and admit what is really going on with you.
9- Make yourself happy rather than right. Being right and being successful, particularly in the setting of relationships, are not even close to the same thing. The real measure that you should use in evaluating the quality of your behavior is not whether it is right, but whether it is working or not working. Your goal should be to make you and your partner happy by doing what works rather than working so hard at showing your partner how you are right and how he or she is wrong.
10- Allow your relationship to transcend turmoil. There has never been a relationship that was free of turmoil, where one partner did not from time to time deeply hurt the other. There has never been a merging of two lives where significant problems of daily living did not occur. People put the relationship on the line every time a problem arises. But there is a great feeling of liberation that comes with the commitment to treat your relationship as something sacred. It’s not an extra burden. All you’re doing, really, is getting rid of a false sense of urgency. You and your partner will find far less pressure in your lives once you know that neither of you are going to make threats every time something goes wrong in the relationship. If you realize your mate can be furious and it’s not the end of the world, then you will start operating out of a calmer, more secure position.
11- Make your needs known. Most people can’t really articulate their needs. They know they have them. They know how good it feels when those needs are met, and how bad it feels when they’re not. But putting our needs into words can be very difficult. You should know that if your partner is not meeting one of your needs, that is then your responsibility. It is also very unfair to criticize your partner for not recognizing and meeting your needs when you don’t know them yourself. Your partner can’t read your mind, he or she can’t guess what your needs are. The only chance your partner will ever have of connecting with you and responding to your needs depends upon your teaching your partner what really makes you tick. You must come to know yourself so well that you can teach your partner about yourself. If there are things about that you have not yet discovered, now is the time to discover them.