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Keys to A Loving and Lasting Relationship : Lessons from a Marriage and Family Therapist

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How can you maintain a loving and lasting relationship? My work with couples for over thirty five years has taught me vital lessons. Over the years I developed recommendations for new couple clients based on these lessons combined with study and research. When I see a new couple for therapy I share guidelines that will help them toward compassionate communication.

The guidelines that I recommend to help build a bridge to a loving lasting relationship are as follows:

* All that exists is now. Focus on the present moment and current patterns. Be your best you in the present moment.

* Use "we" statements to discuss what is in the best interest of both partners.

* Avoid "my way or the highway" verbiage.

* The brain loves the familiar, so look carefully at patterns you bring from your family of origin and how they become self-fulfilling prophesies.

* Do not do anything for your partner that he should do for himself so you do not help him/her stay stuck in immaturity.

* Alcohol can flambé a relationship. Avoid arguments when under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

* Make your relationship a safe place to be deeply honest with one another. Postpone discussion of differences if either of you becomes destructive. Take time-outs.

* Develop a toolbox of ways to calm down (e.g., prayer, meditation, exercise, music, etc.).

* Develop a toolbox of constructive communication techniques and avoid criticism, contempt, defensiveness, or stonewalling.

* Remember, you are not a cupcake and need to be open to feedback about distasteful habits.

These guidelines are meant to help couples stop blaming and start living. Each partner needs to take responsibility for their own behavior and commit to change. The couples who make the most progress are those with a strong commitment to one another, flexibility and connection.

Author, Dr. Linda Miles, is deeply committed to helping individuals and couples achieve rewarding relationships. She is an expert with a Doctorate in Counseling Psychology, and has worked in the mental health field for over thirty years. She has been interviewed extensively on radio, TV, and in newspapers and magazines. Find more relationship ideas and relaxation techniques on her web site and in the award-winning book she co-authored, The New Marriage: Transcending the Happily-Ever-After Myth, and numerous CD's, that Train Your Brain. Dr. Linda Miles

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