4. Boost Up Physical Affection
According to author Dr. Kory Floyd, holding hands, hugging, and touching can release oxytocin (the bonding hormone) that causes a calming sensation. Studies show that it’s released during sexual orgasm and affectionate touch as well. Physical affection also reduces stress hormones – lowering daily levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
5. Nurture Fondness And Admiration
Remind yourself of your partner’s positive qualities – even as you grapple with their flaws – and express your positive feelings out loud several times each day. Search for common ground rather than insisting on getting your way when you have a disagreement. Listen to his/her point of view and avoid shutting yourself off from communication.
6. Spend Time With Your Partner On A Daily Basis
Try a variety of activities that bring you both pleasure. Kyle Benson recommends that couples adopt a new way of structuring their “How was your day, dear?” conversation that shows empathy, expresses understanding, and validates emotions. Feeling like your partner is on your side can help you to sustain a deep, meaningful bond and a “we against others” attitude.
7. Communicate Honestly About Key Issues In Your Relationship
Be sure to be forthcoming about your concerns and express your thoughts, feelings, and wishes in a respectful way. Resentment can build when couples sweep things under the rug, so be vulnerable and don’t bury negative feelings.
8. Don’t Allow Wounds To Fester
Challenge your beliefs and self-defeating thoughts about your partner’s behavior when you find it to be negative. Listen to your partner’s side of the story. Are there times when you feel mistrustful or hurt even when he/she presents evidence to the contrary about your grievance?
9. Develop A Hurt-Free Zone Policy
This term coined by author David Akiva refers to a period when criticism is not allowed. Without it, couples usually feel less defensive and so hurt feelings dissolve. Akiva writes: “Your prime directive right now is to eliminate the most toxic negative communication and reduce intense negative emotions for 3 to 4 weeks.”
10. Practice Forgiveness
Forgiveness isn’t the same as condoning hurtful actions but it will allow you to move on. Try to remember you are on the same team. Accept that people do the best they can and try to be more understanding.
It is understandable that you might feel hurt, frustrated, resentful, or rejected if you perceive that your partner has checked out of your marriage. The next time you have a disagreement with him or her, stop second-guessing their reactions and examine your own responses. Instead of shutting down or becoming critical, adopt a resilient mindset and work on ways you can repair your relationship and get back on track.
By Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW
This article was originally published on The Gottman Relationship Blog.
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