5 Ways to Solve Any Relationship Problem

  • So how can you ensure that you'll actually get heard? There are better ways to communicate your desires, as shown by the following few examples that can apply to any relationship problem:
  • "I'd like it if we could take some time today to talk about something that's really important to me."
  • "I feel that this is a problem we can work on together."
  • "This is really difficult for me to bring up, but I just want to tell you how I feel about..."
  • "I just need you to listen and try to reserve judgment until I'm finished."
  • "I'm just asking you to hear what I'm saying -- we don't have to fix the problem right this second."

Principle #3: You'll have more success by focusing on one issue at a time.

One of my biggest challenges during couples therapy is to keep the two people from veering off into too many directions at once. It's nearly impossible to analyze more than one major issue at a time, which is why problem solving often fails miserably. Recently my wife and I started to discuss some money-management issues, and before we knew it, we ended the conversation by debating the amount of time we spend together. We caught our mistake and got back to the topic of money, but it did take some effort.

Make a commitment to actively focus on one thing at a time. I know it sounds difficult, but the payoff will be well worth the extra effort. Be aware, though, that your partner may try to derail the discussion by veering onto another topic if things start to get heated -- it's a sneaky little tactic to shift the conversation when things aren't going so well. So every time you catch your partner avoiding the topic at hand, say, "Let's continue to deal with ___ now and get to ___ [the other issue] later."

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