THIS NEW YEARS EVE, SUGGESTED VOWS FOR THE COUPLEDOM
- Take Time: Each day, by email, cell phone or in person, touch base on how your partner is doing. Be Curious: Just a simple inquiry, how has your day been? No distance or work load or diaper pile is far enough, big enough or deep enough to prohibit “touching base” with each other. The goal here is not to “solve” each others’ problems but simply to hear news, concerns and share stories. Listening skills required. Anything pressing needs follow-up later. Try not to forget.
- Talk the Tough Stuff: Remember Tiger and Elin, and don’t avoid, deny or try to use magic to make the tough stuff look unimportant. If there is something that needs to be addressed, do that together, with help so you can do it right.
- Vow to Avoid Triangle Traps: Take a moment, contrived as it may sound, to identity the dangerous triangle traps in your life together. And brainstorm how to sidestep them or eliminate them. Holidays offer ample opportunities to fall into triangle traps. Now that Christmas and Hanukkah are over, review the traps and design a plan of prevention for next years’ holidays.
- Get Smart : Vow to catch the tones, looks and words that alienate each of you from the other. And remember, the kids hear those tones too. Use some humor, or a code to alert yourselves or the other that the faulty and potentially poisonous communication is occurring.
- Listen and Don’t Defend: Try this trick. Let your partner tell you what hurts, and don’t say a word. Until the next day. Let your partner know that you will be thinking about what they have told you. Reflect. It is an art. Then respond. Nothing will be lost in the interim. And much insight into self and other can be gained. It is not to score points but actually to score love.
- Take the Vow of Funship: Shared fun, teeny times or in big blocks. Whatever is possible: a walk, a shared fav show or music, reading this blog. Sounds corny and you have heard it before, but loosening up the laugh chords actually relieves tension and provides some needed glue. Shared fun reminds you why you both signed on to the Coupledom.
- Always think Out of the Box: Jointly vow to search for and find the third option when you lock horns. It is there somewhere. And if you don’t find it that day, introduce the novel notion that perhaps it will occur to one of you “tomorrow”. Though procrastination is not recommended as a rule, Scarlet O’Hara’s “I’ll think about that tomorrow” can be useful if it allows for reflection, research, and the end to rigid fight to win couples episodes that are corrosive to any relationship bond.
- Happy New Year
©jill edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W