Note: This is an edited extract from e-class 41 of the Relationships module of the Design Your Life Program.
When we stop and think about what’s most important to us, we often say ‘relationships’. But we rarely, if ever, proactively take inventory of our relationships, or consciously think of ways to improve them.
If your relationship could do with a shot in the arm, here are 6 little exercises that could make a big difference.
1. Get Into Their Shoes To Have ‘That’ Argument
Do you have habitual disagreements or fail to see eye-to-eye on a certain issue? Try this radical exercise.
Get a trusted friend to role-play a typical argument with you – but get the friend to play you, and you play your partner. Explain your perspective fully to your friend, and then release that viewpoint. Genuinely get into your partner’s skin and argue from that perspective.
Be warned – you could gain some eye-opening insights!
2. Re-visit Your Partner’s Qualities
It can be a real wake-up call to remind yourself of the qualities that drew you to your partner in the first place – sometimes they’re the very traits that drive you crazy today!
Take a few moments to list all your partner’s good qualities on a piece of paper. Be honest and don’t hold back.
If you feel moved to, compliment your partner on one of those qualities. Brace yourself for something unexpected.
3. Take The Wheel
If you’ve fallen into the habit of waiting and hoping for your partner to change, try this liberating exercise.
Whenever you catch yourself thinking about how you want him or her to be different, immediately ask yourself what you could do instead. For instance, if you love flowers and wish your partner would give them to you, buy them for yourself.
Taking more responsibility for meeting your own needs can shift the balance in your relationship and spark positive changes in you both.
4. Learn From Past Mistakes
If you find yourself with problems similar to those you’ve experienced in previous relationships, or even friendships, see what you can learn from those other situations.
What did you do that helped? What did you say, or not say, that improved the problem?
Often we repeat the same bad habits in our relationships. So it’s smart to learn from our past mistakes.
5. Take Another Look At Your Problems
What’s going on in your relationship that might hold an opportunity for improving intimacy, communication or understanding? Maybe there’s a problem or issue between you that could become the seed for growth as a couple.
Try to get outside your usual perspective, and proactively look for ways you can use the situation to your mutual advantage. Ask yourself how this could be a good thing for you both.
Sometimes just looking for an opportunity can make one appear.
6. Take Time To Talk
Most people don’t enjoy long, involved relationship discussions. But if there are certain things that feel you want to raise, make a list of them.
Be sensitive about when you bring up difficult issues – choose a time when you’re both relatively relaxed and have time available. And be sensitive about how you raise things – avoid blaming and criticizing and try to focus on what you feel and what you’d like to be different.
Choose An Exercise – And Do It Today
Instead of thinking that maybe something here might be worth trying, just take action! Choose the exercise that best speaks to you right now, and do it.
I’d love to hear how the exercise works for you, so please share. 🙂
[Image by linda yvonne]