Nurturing your Relationship: Couples Relationship Meetings

All couples need the opportunity to openly discuss their relationship with one another in a calm manner that promotes connection and honesty. During this meeting feelings can be honestly discussed as a strategy to keep anger and bitterness away from your relationship. During this relationship meeting couples can focus on increasing their awareness of their own behaviors, communicate in ways that enhances connection, with the ultimate goal of supporting your relationship in being deeper and more satisfying.

In his book Emotional Fitness for Couples, Dr. Barton Goldsmith recommends some strategies to get started. He encourages couples to adjust the guidelines and be creative:

  • Connect with your partner. Do this by holding hands and looking into each other’s eyes. Verbally thank each other for participating in this process. This lets your partner know that you are present emotionally as well as physically. Ask each other how you are feeling right now.
  • Keep it upbeat. Begin by acknowledging what the two of you have done well over the past week. You can start the discussion by talking about the nicest things that happened. Encourage each other to talk about feelings, not just tasks. This will make it easier to make changes.
  • Make the commitment to have this meeting every week (or even twice a week). Consistency is the key to making this process and your relationship work. In a short time, you will enjoy the focused attention and look forward to this time together.
  • Remember the basic rules of communication. There is a speaker and a listener; the speaker speaks while the listener listens without getting defensive or accusatory. Start by each of you taking three minutes to say what’s on your mind.
  • Talk about things that matter. Don’t hold on to feelings that are making you uncomfortable. This is the time to present your issues in a calm and constructive way. In areas where there have been difficulties, point them out gently and don’t be punitive.
  • Help each other heal old issues. Is there anything that is still unresolved? Did you both keep your commitments? Make sure you follow up on past decisions so that you keep the trust in each other and the process. Once you agree that an issue is resolved, there is no need to rehash it.
  • Discuss the future plans. Talk about the calendar for the coming week and the future, both near and far. Happiness comes from moving toward what you want, so make sure you always have goals and dreams.
  • Fun of some kind should follow each meeting. Some couples make this their weekly date night, and others cook together or get takeout and a DVD movie. Whatever works for you both is fine, as long as you’re having some fun.
  • Work toward comprise and consensus. Win-lose is the same as lose-lose. Avoid this situation by talking until you both agree or at least agree to disagree. Remember that the purpose here is to bring you closer together. Encourage one another to participate fully in the meeting.
  • When the discussion ends, consolidate the gains you have made and share the vision and the goals of your relationship. It may be helpful to write down your decisions. Be sure to acknowledge each other for participating in this process.
Rachel Talamantez, MA, LMFT, provides psychotherapy, parenting support and reflective practice in Santa Clara County, California where she sees children, couples and adults. She is endorsed in California as an Infant-Family and Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist and a Reflective Practice Facilitator Mentor. She holds a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology and is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Visit Rachel’s website at www.nurturing-relationships.com

 

 

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