I (Colin) have learned so much from my Betterhelp therapist Charisse, so I wanted to share a few of the tips that have helped me the most.
Bring up issues that are important to you. This one might be second-nature to many, but for some reason I was routinely not doing it. I would instead just feel upset and let that influence my interactions with her. It is much better to bring anything up at the time, in a pleasant way, rather than swallow it and let resentment build up.
For example, suppose she's telling him about something important to her that happened at work. He listens for a minute, then says, "Oh that's good. By the way, I got a call today from..."
If she (very reasonably) feels upset that he's not paying attention or giving her the interaction she wants, her best course of action is to be upfront. "Hey I know you have a lot going on too, but I was telling you about something important to me and it kind of came across like you didn't care too much when you quickly changed the subject."
The benefits to this approach are that he gets the chance to make things right immediately, and she won't harbor resentment having spoken her mind already.
Listen and validate feelings. There's a saying: "The first step in any successful negotiation is to establish rapport." The same applies for relationships. If one person feels like they're not being understood, it's very difficult for any progress to be made.
Here's an example. Suppose she wants to go on a trip on a trip to see her family. He replies: "What are you talking about! We just went to see your family a couple months ago. It's expensive and there's no way I'm gonna ask for the time off work."
This will likely lead to an argument (in part because it's rude!), and in part because he's not listening to her and validating her feelings. So instead he might say: "I know you'd really like to go again next month to see your family, and I would really enjoy that too. But it would be a lot easier for me to take the time off work if we waited a bit longer. What do you think?"
Both people in a relationship will be more critical when things aren't going well. Imagine that one of his chores is to take out the trash every night. He doesn't do it one night. She gets upset at him, he responds unpleasantly, and they get in a fight. What went wrong here?
Most likely, the problem is that they are having other relationship problems that cause both to see the other person in an unforgiving way. If they were getting along great, she'd probably have just reminded him pleasantly and he'd say "Oh sorry I'll do that now."
The key thing is that if there are a lot of little disagreements popping up, or larger problems that seem to have surfaced out of nowhere, it's very important to work on the fundamentals of the relationship instead of just treating the symptoms.
I hope these tips come in useful! If you have any you'd like to share, we'd love to hear about them in the comments.
Hi! My name is Katie. My husband and I are writing this blog to talk about our experiences with BetterHelp online therapy.
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