When facing a speedbump in a relationship, it can sometimes feel like the end of that relationship, and thus, the end of the world. Sure, that's maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but love can do that! It makes us feel little things in a very big way.
It can be hard to figure out how to recover from spats like these, but thankfully, there is some broad advice that can help any couple, no matter who they are or what's going on.
Taking the lead on these fixes can be tough, especially if you struggle with confidence issues. If you're tired of self-doubt stopping you from remedying things in your life, you can change those tides today.
From Couple To Couple
Every relationship is unique, and as such, every relationship's struggles are unique. Disagreements can be born from nearly anything, and can be impacted by one or both members' work schedules, life habits, personality types, or a number of other things.
This means that very little relationship advice is universally applicable. Things need to be changed and edited to suit a particular couple's needs.
Still, there are some tips that can be broadly applied to just about every couple out there, and many of them are extremely simple.
Two Simple Words
Andrea Wachter, LMFT, is a licensed psychotherapist who often deals with couples and helps them work through issues together.
She's noticed a pattern in her work, that there are two very simple, easy to remember words that can help alleviate nearly any couple issue, no matter how it persists.
She writes, "It sounds so simple. How hard should it be to be nice, particularly to the people we love the most? Unfortunately, many people are plagued with unresolved resentments and wounds which can make the simple notion of respectful communication anything but simple."
Not Always Easy
"Additionally, many of us didn't witness or receive respectful communication role-modeling as children, leaving us to fend for ourselves with the most important language skill that exists."
The small reminder of 'be nice' is meant to be a constant reminder that you have to put in work to resolve relationship issues. When in a heated, troubled streak with your partner, it can be hard to remember that 'being nice' is actually an active choice you have to continue to make. While many consider it a natural instinct, that instinct can easily fade when facing hardship.
Watcher has received some common pushback against this simple advice throughout the years, pushback she compiled and addressed in her writeup.
The first counter is people assuming that 'be nice' means to always be nice, and that emotions like anger or sadness are not allowed, which simply isn't the case.
"Of course it's not realistic for you to be sweet and nice all the time. The weather isn’t always sunny with a light breeze and neither are we. However, you can always be respectful, even if you’re angry. Not only will this help you be a better communicator in general, it will also help you get more of what I assume you want—a loving relationship."
Other people have brought up that meanness and anger seem to be the only way to ilicit a reaction out of their partner, sometimes it's even the only way they can get them to do things like help around the house or do chores.
In response to this, Watcher wrote, "While it might seem like yelling is an effective form of communication, what it's likely doing is undermining tenderness and trust between the two of you."
What she recommends instead is having a serious, respectful talk in which you address your frustration and they can address whatever it is they're feeling too. That way you're both on the same page and can move forward from there.
There's also a scenario in which, during important discussions, one-half of the couple shuts down entirely, either becoming unresponsive or mean, both of which make practicing 'be nice' much more difficult.
Watcher described this behavior as hitting an "emotional landmine." She likens the feeling to being triggered, meaning something within the discussion is bringing up bad feelings from the past.
"Try talking about this pattern when they're not shut down or explosive. Ask them what they think would be most helpful during those challenging moments. It might be a comforting statement or a reminder that you're on their side and you want to know what they're feeling and needing."
The One Exception
Some people have tried being nice, endlessly nice, to no avail. Their partner is still incessantly mean. What should they do?
"The practice of being nice is not only about how you treat your partner. It also needs to be applied to yourself," Watcher writes. "While we're only responsible for our side of the street in a relationship, we also get to decide what street we want to live on. It’s important to differentiate between someone who has anger issues but is still a safe partner and someone whose anger is unsafe."
She adds that, when the behavior your facing isn't just standard relationship struggles, but abuse, 'be nice' becomes 'be safe.'
Rekindle That Connection
The 'be nice' advice can always come around, though. 'Be nice' can navigate many difficult scenarios, standings, and contexts. No matter the issue (save for legitimate abuse, as mentioned), 'be nice' can always be tacked onto the end as a reminder.
Even when times are tough, you should want to care for your partner. You should want to be nice through it all, to remind them that you love them, and to bring back whatever positivity you can.
So always remember to be nice. When the time comes, you'll be shocked at how much power those two words can have.
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