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Relationship Skills

The following are relationship skills for couples. It is important to note that information is often not useful if individuals do not know how to apply it. As a result, I believe that certain skills are important to master when a relationship. These skills (like other types of skills) require practice. The following are a few helpful skills to learn and practice with your spouse.

  1. What is it like to be me (at this moment)? This drill creates empathy for each other and enables communication about issues and problems.

  2. Use "time out," debate is healthy and facilitates intimacy - character assassination destroys intimacy.

  3. Talk about yourself when making a point or discussing an issue. You are the authority when you are talking about yourself and your feelings.

  4. Discuss one issue at a time. Be suspicous of talking about more than one issue.

  5. Continually think about what you need from the relationship and how to communitcate these needs.

  6. Does your partner want you to fix the problem or simply listen. Sometimes an "ear" can show support by itself.

  7. Learn about your "core" issues. What are your hot buttons and how do they come out when you relate to your partner?

  8. Don't forget "warm fuzzy" days. These are days that one of us might need a little extra support. Each spouse needs to communicate the need for a "warm fuzzy" day.

  9. Use each other to detect irratability. Often your spouse will notice that you are irratable long before you realize it. It is often too late when you figure out you are angry.

  10. Define appropriate behavior for yourself and each other. Each couples viewpoint will vary in this area. Decide in advance what defines appropriate conduct in your relationship (e.g., close friendships with individuals of the opposite gender).

  11. Encourage each other to develop a self outside the relationship. Is each partner happy about who they are as individuals? Does resentment exist over unmet goals? Further, does either partner blame the relationship (or each other) for these unmet goals.

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