Things aren’t good. In fact, they are really, really bad between you two. The love and companionship you once had seems like a thing of the past and now your days are filled with arguments, tears, and misunderstandings. Maybe you’ve tried for so long that you are almost ready to give up, or perhaps you are afraid that the one you love might give up on you. What I know is that most couples who want to stay together make a consorted effort to do so, however, the things they try are usually ineffective.
Since communication is key to any healthy, happy relationship, most end up failing not due to lack of love but lack of understanding, empathy, and appreciation. And it’s not necessarily because we don’t possess those things, but because we don’t effectively communicate them to each other.
I’ve compiled a list of the 5 most important phrases that can turn around even the most broken of relationships.
1. How Can I Help?
When is the last time you said these words to your partner? Maybe you’ve been so caught up in having him or her do things for you that you haven’t thought about what you can do for them. This phrase is especially helpful if you use it at the very time you feel yourself about to get into yet another argument because your boy/girlfriend is in a bad mood and taking it out on you. Imagine that he comes home from a long day, doesn’t greet you with open arms, and immediately jumps down your throat for something trivial because he’s just had it with crappy job, shitty boss, or anything that is unrelated to you. You could get your panties in a bunch, defend yourself and retort with some snide come back, or you can recognize that his bad attitude is actually a cry for help.
2. What Would You Like Me To Do or Say?
Said honestly and not sarcastically, this statement can save you a ton of time and frustration. Most of the time we think we are hearing people accurately (when we are not) and then we decide on what action to take based on that inaccurate assessment (which ends up doing nothing for them.) To get to the point, and start making positive changes right away, just ask your partner what they need from you instead of guessing.
3. You’re Right.
I find this phrase is more effective than the ever-popular “I’m Sorry.” It may be because “I’m sorry” is over-used, or sometimes said half-heartedly, but “You’re Right” hardly ever goes wrong. The key with these two words is, again, in timing. When your partner is telling you how they feel, citing places where you could improve, don’t jump to point your finger back at them and start listing examples of where they, too, could improve. Instead just sit there, listen, and say, “Your Right.” This is usually so disarming that it stuns the other person into softening up immediately. Then, you can have your turn to vent your frustrations.
4. I appreciate that you…
This one speaks for itself. It’s been said by numerous experts that the number one reason people leave relationships or cheat on their spouses is lack of appreciation, not lack of love. So how important do you think it is to actually say the words, “I appreciate”? Yeah, pretty important. It doesn’t matter what it is that you appreciate either… emptying the dishwasher, sending a sweet text, remembering an important date, whatever it is, just tell the one you love that you appreciate their efforts.
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When Jenny met Matt she thought it was true love. Finally, she had found a guy that did everything right. He would text her every day, pick her up at her house, pay for all their dinners, make plans in advance, and lavish her with compliments. He was perfect and after just three weeks, he was already saying those three little words.
So imagine Jenny’s surprise when after six weeks of dating, things started to change. The daily texts stopped first, and she began reaching out to him instead. Then the planning in advance came to a halt and it was all last minute, or late night get- togethers to “watch Netflix and Chill”. And finally, the amorous professions of love ended, and Jenny was left wondering where they stood.
“I feel like I need to have the DTR talk,” Jenny said to me one day. (That’s slang for Determine the Relationship.)
“I don’t think so,” I told her. “I think you know where your relationship stands. The question is, are you okay with it?”
“I was okay with it when he was paying more attention to me. Now I feel like I’m just there. How do I get him to be like he was before?” She asked me.
“Jenny, you’ve been “Love Bombed.” And the only thing you can do now is either accept the relationship for where it is now, or don’t accept it and move on.”
What Is Love Bombing?
Love bombing is when a guy attempts to win you over with over-the-top displays of attention and affection, but then, after a matter of weeks that all stops. Love Bombing happens frequently in today’s culture because technology makes it so easy to “bomb” someone with words of affection and future promises without having to do anything more than lift a finger (or more accurately; two thumbs.) Some love bombing is normal. When a guy first meets a girl, and is attracted to her, he will naturally want to impress her by going above and beyond her expectations. As the relationship settles down a bit, and the two become a couple, however, the avid pursuit to “win” her over wanes, but should be replaced by a happy, contented relationship. The problem with Love Bombing happens when either the girl doesn’t know how to be in a relationship, and demands the constant attention and reassurance that Love Bombing provides, or the guy is using “LB” as a technique to sleep with a girl or get her attached to him for his own selfish purposes.
How To Spot A Serial Love Bomber
Jenny eventually learned that Matt was a serial Love Bomber, and routinely came on strong with all his other girlfriends. He wasn’t a bad guy, he just had a habit of coming being overly effusive when he wasn’t yet in a relationship. But not all guys are like Matt, and some will Love Bomb you just to get what they want, and then leave you confused, disappointed, and still very single.
It’s important to be able to know when you are being “Love Bombed” and to remain skeptical if you see any of the following signs within the first few weeks:
– He texts you “Good Morning, Beautiful” every morning and “Good Night, Beautiful” every night, even though you just met (or haven’t met in person.)
– He talks about future plans, vacations, and even marriage and you’ve only been on a handful of dates.
– He comments or likes all your posts the minute you post them.
– In almost every communication with you, he flatters you.
– He professes his feelings right from the start and tells you he’s “never felt this way about anyone” and “can’t believe he met someone (you) that is so beautiful, special, smart, etc” and “knows already that he wants to spend the rest of his life with you.”
Be wary of Love Bombers because they can reel you in, sleep with you, and move on without hesitation. If you think you are perpetual victim of Love Bombing and need professional help, please email me about coaching at firstname.lastname@example.org. Love Bombers are notoriously looking for “soft targets” – women with low self-esteem that they can bomb and manipulate. Don’t let yourself be a victim again.
“We just can’t seem to stop fighting,” he told me. “And when we do stop, and try to figure out how not to fight again, we get into another fight!”
I was sitting across from a newly married couple, attempting to save their marriage. The last year had been extremely volatile and they were both at their wits end. They didn’t know how to reach each other, make the other understand their side, and move on from whatever problem they were having. It’s not that they fought about everything, in fact, they had only had three fights over the last year. The problem was that they fought numerous times about those three things. I had talked to them each separately, and now we were all together trying to work through their issues and get to a final resolution.
Finally, we made some headway and the husband and wife came to terms with how to handle their communication going forward. But just as we were about to part ways, the husband brought up something the wife had said in one of their fights; something she had insisted she didn’t say.
“Absolutely you said that!” He insisted quite loudly.
“That isn’t what I said at all,” she shouted back, and then recounted her side of the story for the third time that day.
As I listened to them go back and forth, and watched both tempers rise again, it became pretty clear why they kept repeating the same arguments.
I asked the husband why he brought up what his wife had said when we had already discussed a plan to move forward from this particular argument. He stated that they needed to get the facts straights. It drove him crazy that she said certain things and then just forgot or denied that she said them. After all, what she said started the fight to begin with, in his opinion. The wife just sat there, shaking her head while he told me this.
“Why is it so important to you that she admit what she said?” I asked. “Since you have already resolved the argument and decided on how to move forward, what point is there in bringing up something she said during your fight? Are you looking for her to admit she made a mistake? Do you want an apology from her? What is your goal here?” I asked him.
He looked stunned for a second and drew a blank. He wasn’t sure. Why was he going over things she said when we had all come to a resolution on the problem. Like most couples, and the husband in particular in this case, they both had trouble letting go of things. This time, something the wife had either said, implied, or something the husband had inferred had hurt his feelings and angered him, and now he wanted her to admit her wrongdoing.
The Future Is More Important Than The Past
The problem with most feuds is that in the heat of an argument most people don’t say, or remember things that were said, accurately. Most of the time, their words are motivated by raw emotion and because of that we may not speak as clearly as we think we do and we certainly don’t hear as unbiasedly as we could. So, while it might make sense to go over exactly how a fight went down in order to figure out how to avoid it in the future, rarely do both sides remember an argument exactly the same way. That’s why rehashing your version and badgering the other person to concede, is pointless. What makes the most sense, and gets the fastest resolution is stating how you interpreted what they said and how they made you feel. And on the flip side, apologizing quickly for how your words came across.
Communication isn’t as easy as just saying whatever is on your mind, unfortunately. With a relationship, it’s mostly about learning how the other person interprets messages. Some people you can be quite blunt with, and with others you have to be more tactful. Certain people take offense easily, and others have a thicker skin. Learning each others “hot button words” and avoiding them is particularly helpful when having a disagreement. As is trying to remain objective and unemotional, even though the fight likely began because someone’s feelings were hurt. It’s not easy to do, but if you can try to remember you are both on the same team and work with, instead of against each other to find a solution, you’ll find you yourselves making amends much quicker.
The last thing I told this couple was for each of them to be mindful of the words they used to express their emotions. There would be a lot less to work through and forgive if they simply fought “above the belt” in the first place. That way, the past wouldn’t stick to them as easily, and their emotional wounds wouldn’t take so long to heal either. It’s human nature to meet anger with anger and lash out at someone when they are lashing out at you, but staying rooted in love even when you’re upset can make a world of difference in how your altercations play out. So, if your partner starts yelling and making verbal blows, don’t rise to meet him. Instead, bring him back to your level by remaining clam, grounded, and thoughtful about your ultimate goal… which shouldn’t be to unload frustration, but to get both of you to a better place of understanding going forward.
I cannot get enough of Married at First Sight. It’s my new guilty pleasure. It’s taken over as the number one relationship show on television for very good reasons. Because of it’s accelerated process, it showcases what can happen in marriage five or ten years down the line, only you don’t have to wait that long. You can see love growing and blossoming, or wilting and dying while the couples are still on their honeymoon. I’ve been watching since the Matchmaking episode and based on their interviews, and what has transpired thus far (up to the honeymoon), my predictions are that Jacklyn and Ryan R could last and continue to be married, but Ryan D and Jessica are doomed, and Sean and Davina could follow suit. Maybe not after the 6 weeks are up, but eventually. Here’s why:
Ryan D and Jessica
Although Ryan D proclaims he’s looking for lasting love much like his grandparents, he’s missing a key component to having a happy healthy partnership: He does not think about his wife’s feelings. He seems only interested in what he wants to do. Case in point. He knows Jessica is afraid of the water, and that she is hesitant about going jet skiing, but instead of helping her get comfortable and easing her into the experience, he guns it to warp-speed and throws both of them off the watercraft. When she tries again to conquer her fears because he wants to snorkel, he couldn’t seem to care less that she starts having a panic attack in the water. He doesn’t comfort her, take her hand, or reassure her that he’s going to keep her safe. He just paddles off on his own and lets her watch from the boat. Now, I do know that reality TV does quite a bit of editing so even if those two instances were made to look worse than what they really were, the fact that Ryan D shows affection like an 8 year-old-boy (“I like poking and teasing. That’s how I show affection”) makes it almost impossible to have a grown-up relationship with him. Women want to feel loved, and it’s hard to feel that way if flicking your big toe at her is the way you do it.
But the real kicker (sorry, to keep going but there is so much here) is that when Ryan hurts Jessica’s feelings by calling her piercings and tattoos trashy, he denies and justifies instead of simply saying, “I’m sorry.” Then he storms off and tells her the conversation is over. They always say you can tell how long a marriage will last by the way people argue. From the looks at it, Ryan is going to end this thing rather quickly if he doesn’t learn to accept responsibility for his mistakes. I feel like I should say something nice about him now since I’ve thrown him under the bus so much… He’s a good looking dude. And even if he’s tough to get along with, Jessica seems so loving and really wants to be married so I bet she hangs in there for as long as possible.
Sean and Davina
I want this couple to work out. I actually like them together. But the thing that may just get them in the end is that Davina seems to have what I call, A Better Than mentality. Meaning, she thinks she better, more deserving, and entitled to the best life has to offer – and her relationship is no exception. The low self-esteem she felt as a child has seemingly made her extremely self-focused in a negative way, but as she grew older, that self-focused viewpoint turned from negative to positive. Now she just thinks about herself far too much, and any little thing that threatens her self-esteem, she guards against. Sean has known her roughly five days and when he doesn’t react “appropriately” to her getting misty-eyed on the sleigh ride, she basically attacks him and warns, “Now you know that when I tear-up, it really means something.” Yikes. If Sean gets her the wrong type of birthday present, should he worry he’ll come home to a boiled bunny on the stove? (Of course not, but her comments are a bit dramatic, don’t you think?) Jessica getting upset with Ryan’s trashy comment or his disregard for her fear of jetski’s makes sense to me… but getting upset that the man you met 5 days ago didn’t know how to read your emotional reaction to happiness…I mean, are you looking for things to fight about?
If Davina can focus on gratitude instead of what Sean needs to improve on, they may do just fine. But if Sean realizes that it’s Davina’s world and he’s just a living in it, he may very well decide to move out.
Jacklyn and Ryan R
My favorite couple because I truly think they have a chance. The only thing that seems to be standing in their way right now is Jacklyn’s lack of physical attraction to Ryan. However, I think when a woman doesn’t know a man’s heart, character, humor, and personality, she will only be attracted to the top 5% of guys. Once she can factor in all the things that make a man great, he will undoubtedly get more attractive – unless the woman is 100% shallow. I don’t think Jackie is. Ryan is not an ugly guy, in fact, he is tall, dark, and handsome. She just has a certain picture in her head of what kind of man she thought she would end up with and he doesn’t look like Ryan. But that doesn’t mean a thing! I think they connect on many levels and have a good dynamic between them, so I really hope Jacklyn takes Ryan out of the friend zone before Ryan gets too annoyed that she’s put him there.
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When I ask one of my clients if the person they are dating has any long term potential, I usually get an answer that sounds something like this. Yes, we’ve got a lot in common! We love doing the same things and we can talk for hours. And he’s the first person I’ve had strong feeling for in a long time. There is just something different about him. I know in my heart that he really is the one.
While that’s great, and commonality and affection are indeed important, this doesn’t answer my question. The first thing I want to know about the guy that has you giddy like a school girl is, does he have the ability to really commit? Because if he doesn’t, it won’t matter how much you love him or how hard you both obsess over dim sum and documentary films. If he lacks the core qualities needed in a partner, your relationship won’t go the distance. Period.
So what does it take to commit to someone? Doesn’t it depend on who they would be committing to, or if the timing is right? Sure, those factors do play a part in someone’s decision to hunker down with you, but there are also some key characteristics that men need in order to commit to anyone.
If they lack these key qualities in general, or more importantly, demonstrate they have the opposing flaws, it won’t matter if you are a Gigi Hadid-Kate Middleton hybrid, he’s not going to make you happy long term.
What should you look for?
There are 7 fatal flaws that make someone undateable in the long run. If the guy you’re currently cuddling up to is free and clear of these seven blemishes, then the foundation for a healthy partnership is there. You can continue your relationship and decide if he’s the one. If he possesses one of the seven deadly shortcomings, however, heed my warning: It will be nearly impossible to carry on a healthy relationship together. I recently teamed up with Marriage Material, an app that helps couples learn about and improve their relationships, and developed a quiz called, “Long Term Potential : Does your partner have any?” The quiz is designed so that women (and men) can quickly and concisely determine if their boy/girlfriend is a keeper, and avoid anyone who simply lacks the nuts and bolts of what holds a relationship together. (Download the app and take the test!)
While I’m happy to help women hash out if their relationship can be saved, or assist in strategizing how to win someone back, the truth is that over 50% of clients I speak with are involved with someone who doesn’t have the bare bone qualities needed for a happy, healthy commitment. Rather than waste time analyzing text messages, or decoding cryptic responses, first find out if he is simply the kind of guy that is able to be with one woman, and make her happy. If he can’t do that, what else is there to figure out?
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I have a problem that I cannot seem to solve. Lately, my husband and I have been getting into a lot of fights with each other over absolutely nothing. The fights start small but blow up into an all out, days long, brawl. I know fighting can be healthy, but the kind of fighting we are doing can’t be good. Yet, it just keeps happening. For instance, the other day my husband and I were driving somewhere and suddenly he yelled, “Get over! You’re not supposed to be in this F’ing lane! What are you doing?!?” To which I snapped back, “Can you just let me drive?!” And he said, “No, I obviously can’t because your not doing it correctly.” And I said, “Who died and made you president of the DMV? If I’m driving badly it’s your fault for stressing me out!”
The fight snowballed from there and we didn’t speak for three days. I just don’t know why we get so mad at each other and how to stop it. Any advice?
Fighting in Frederick
Sorry to hear this. Fighting is only good when it’s productively resolving a serious issue, and whether or not you are a bad driver doesn’t sound like one to me. If you really want to stop these petty arguments, you are going to have to be the bigger person and not indulge when your hubby kicks them off. Like most people, it sounds like you are both arguing with each other just to save face, and not to defend any particular position. If you notice that a large part of your bickering consists of making the other person wrong or feel bad, then you aren’t arguing – you are just criticizing and condemning. The first step for you is to not jump on an opportunity to chastise your husband because he last chastised you. Then, what will be even more difficult is to not engage the next time he wags his finger at you for something trivial. For example if he yells, “Get over! You’re not supposed to be in this F’ing lane. What are you doing?!” Instead of yelling back, remain calm and give him the opportunity to hear his own words loudly echo in the air. Don’t respond verbally. Just sigh, turn on your blinker, and get over. Let his words and be the last ones he hears so he can realize how obnoxious, angry, or hurtful they sound. If you yell back he won’t get that because he will hear your words instead which only provoke him to keep arguing. I know you are likely snapping back and him because you don’t want him to think he can scream at you and get away with it, but the truth is, that is why you end up in a screaming match. It will be more effective if you use silence instead of any words. Then, keep your conversation with him to a minimum for the next hour or so. Answer if he talks to you, but let your attitude be clear – you aren’t happy with him.
You don’t need to vocally meet your husband half way to teach him a lesson. You’ll get through to him much quicker if you don’t engage when his temper flies high. Just realize that when he comes at you with tongues a blazing, it isn’t because of something you are doing – it’s because he’s in a bad mood. And when most people are in a mood, they try their best to suck other people into it, too. Let him be in the mood all by himself. Let him feel isolated and alone for his remarks. This is how he will recognize the error of his way and help you to end the frequent feuding.