We all go through millions of emotions in our relationship, and those emotions create brain chemicals that change the way we feel. Sometimes we are in a positive frame of mind (hopefully most of the time), and other times we can be neutral or even have negative feelings about our partners and ourselves.
Being able to trust your lover with your feelings is part of having a great relationship. When you share something personal – perhaps that you are anxious about something at work – and your partner is supportive, it builds trust. It also gives you more strength to deal with whatever your issue is.
However, if your partner puts you down or is unsupportive, it can make you choose to be less communicative about sharing what you are feeling, both now and in the future. This is an unhealthy dynamic in any relationship and needs to be addressed to prevent damage or conflict.
When conflicts do occur, look at how you are speaking to one another. Certain words can act as triggers for conflict, so both of you need to be careful to avoid saying things that may be offensive or may cause either of you to react negatively or to shut down. If you know that certain words or phrases upset your partner and will trigger a conflict, avoid saying them and learn to speak from your heart, not from a place of anger.
If you become upset or angry, it can make things very difficult, and it’s also hard to trust someone who is mad at you. If emotional upset happens on a regular basis, your relationship will be unable to grow, and it will slowly degrade if you don’t find a way to be nice to each other again. That can be as simple as making the commitment that you are going to be kinder to the person you are sharing your life with. If you express your commitment out loud, I promise it will make a difference – and please look in each other’s eyes and feel your connection when you do.
One way to fulfill this new commitment is to make sure that you treat your partner better than you treat everyone else in your life, including other family members. This is not to say that you mistreat other people, but you need to make sure that your mate feels special from time to time. That’s really all it takes, and by doing this, your love will grow a little bit every day. It’s a great habit to develop together and will only make you feel closer.
Another tool for creating more closeness is to acknowledge when your partner does something that you find nice, attractive, or special. Validating your partner will strengthen your bond and make you feel closer to each other. We can’t relate in a vacuum, and if you want to create the happiness you both deserve, both of you need to show how much you care. Give it a try and let your positive emotions be your guide.
Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, is the author of “The Happy Couple – How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.” Email him at Barton@BartonGoldsmith.com. Follow his daily insights at www.twitter.com/BartonGoldsmith.