Resolve — To Be A Better Partner

Marriage Counseling Insights brought to you by California Psychotherapeutic Resources, Inc.

Can you believe it – barely over two weeks to the New Year. If you’re tired of making a New Year’s resolution to lose weight or get to the gym more, how about this one: resolve to be a better partner. One surprisingly easy and effective way to do that is through verbal affirmations and simple open communication. Of course, if your affirmation involves more than a compliment, you have to really mean it. Which is why I’m here for you carries more impact than You look great tonight — the former involves an implicit offer to act.

A happy couple

In an article on HuffPost, Kelsey Borresen states the case for verbal affirmations succinctly: “The strongest couples understand the role verbal communication plays in a relationship and how regularly exchanging words of encouragement, validation and empowerment can solidify their bond.” He then follows with a list of words of encouragement you might consider turning into a habit in the new year, such as:

Can I help you with that? This is especially valuable if you sense that your partner is feeling overwhelmed. Aside from the practical aspect of being helpful, it shows that you really care.

I have faith in you. No matter how confident a person is, a bit of self-doubt can creep in at times. It can be triggered by anything from a promotion at work with new duties to a struggle to achieve a goal, but a little insecurity is perfectly understandable. That’s when a few words to help boost your partner’s confidence can really be valuable.

I’m sorry. While this is not an affirmation, it can be equally valuable. Swallowing your pride isn’t easy but a sincere apology can really go a long way toward keeping minor disagreements minor.

I would like it if… There is a well known pattern  of behavior: unmet expectations leads to frustration leads to anger leads to resentment. But how can your partner know what you expect if you don’t tell them? You may not always have your expectations met, but that opens up the chance to have a far more in-depth and productive discussion.

I feel... Men especially may have more trouble recognizing their feelings and then expressing them. But everyone can benefit from simply stating how they feel — positive or negative emotions — because it allows one partner to help the other process their feelings. That in turn may result a closer relationship.

One of the nice side effects of communicating more openly is that you just may find yourself in a happier relationship. Now wouldn’t that be nice?

Read more of Borresen’s ideas on words of encouragement here.