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Building Bridges as a Couple – 6 Steps to Mend after a Dispute

All too often, couples who are experiencing struggles in their relationship choose to not confront the situation causing issues. Resentments, back stories, unresolved past conflicts, defensiveness (just to name a few) all play a part in keeping the relationship in an unhealthy state. Yes, conflicts are difficult, but being able to manage them and learn to communicate effectively and lovingly is essential for long term stability. Here are some healthy ways to begin the mend!

  1. Get in touch with your feelings! - Emotional fluency is crucial to establishing a heart to heart connection. If you need time to self-soothe before discussing, ask for it.

  2. Make eye contact – Stop what you are doing, and choose to focus solely on each other.

  3. Remember the Power of “I” – Using “I” statements creates an opportunity to better understand each other while avoiding the finger pointing “you” statements.

  4. Speak the positive need from your partner – “I” need Connection? Touch? Quality Time? Help? Your partner needs to know what he or she can work on.

  5. Identify what your part was and what you could do differently next time – Perhaps you yelled, maybe you shut down, used sarcasm? Whatever the part you played, be accountable, apologize, and commit to doing things differently next time.

  6. Find areas of flexibility - This might take some compromise. Exploring each others core need AND areas of flexibility can help further your progress towards resolution.

There are two options: either do nothing and allow the situation to drive a further wedge into the relationship, or do the difficult work of talking openly and honest about it. As difficult as it is, working through these situations can bring true intimacy to any relationship if you both are willing.

There are some amazing tools to help strengthen your relationship. As a Gottman trained couples counsellor I can help if you are having difficulty in building the bridge back together or if you just want to learn some new ways of connecting!


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