New York is a stressful place to live in. While the hustle and bustle of the city can bring energy to your life, there is also a pressure to keep up and always be moving. People rarely take a few minutes to decompress and check in with their spouse on a regular basis. Usually, when life is strained, perhaps with infertility issues or pressure from work, many individuals unknowingly, take it out on their significant other and then their most important relationship is strained.
When I work with couples in my Manhattan office, it is usually at a time when there is a problem with their relationship. They are not communicating or they are constantly fighting and it is usually never about the issue at hand but more about underlying feelings. I help couples develop a strong set of skills to strengthen their relationship. There are three areas to work on in order to prevent arguments from escalating:
- Remember why you liked each other in the first place. When there are problems, individuals tend to negatively view their partner. It is always a good idea to step back and remind yourselves of why and how you came together in the first place. You may even want to develop a list of what initially attracted you to each other.
- Relationship problems are rarely the fault of one partner. So, before you get into a heated discussion or “attack” your partner because of something he/she did, take a minute to think about how you could have contributed to the disagreement. When you start a discussion, you can then frame the issue with a spirit of cooperation.
- Stop making assumptions. When you assume your partner meant something or is thinking something (or didn’t mean or think) you waste significant emotional space on what may be very far from the truth. Before wasting your precious time, give your partner the benefit of doubt and talk.
Every couple is going to have a bit of conflict now and again; it is only natural. The best defense against escalated fights is a solid relationship. Compliment each other often, schedule regular time alone and date nights, and set aside time to check in about issues so they do not become major problems.