Is your relationship fraught with “drama”?
Meaning—do you walk on eggshells around your partner? Get triggered over seemingly inconsequential things? Bicker with each other frequently, often about stuff that shouldn’t matter?
When you absent-mindedly leave the jar of mayo out on the kitchen counter overnight…and your partner loses it.
Or flips out when you come home late when you have an event to go to that evening, despite explaining that you were stuck under a bridge in a bad hailstorm.
Or gives you the silent treatment because you misspoke or alluded that they did something wrong.
You explain…they refuse to listen and rage instead.
You apologize…they slam doors and storm out of the house.
You take great care to be considerate and kind today, only to be criticized for something your partner thinks you did yesterday.
You can’t win.
And you can’t predict what will set your partner off next.
That’s why, in this article, I’m going to reveal how to stop tiptoeing around each other by cultivating the 2 skills that are the greatest predictors of relationship longevity, according to research.
Before I do that, I want to explore what drives couples to walk on eggshells around each other and why that can be such a burden on any relationship.
When your partner gives the same weight to leaving a jar of mayonnaise out on the kitchen counter overnight, as purposely doing something as serious as lying or humiliating you in front of your friends, it can be confusing.
It’s confusing because they can’t seem to distinguish between a small issue and a big issue.
It throws you off-balance.
You can never feel stable and safe in your relationship when you can’t even predict what will set your partner off.
It’s hard to stay with somebody who overreacts to almost any issue, especially if you never know when it’s going to happen.
That’s why, the FIRST and strongest predictor of relationship longevity according to relationship research literature is emotional regulation.
When you can’t regulate your emotions and everything becomes a major issue, you’re creating a lot of drama in the relationship that doesn’t need to be there.
Being able to regulate your emotions means that you can create space between what you’re feeling in the moment, and how you respond as a result of those (sometimes) strong emotions. This is a very good skill to have if you want to stay happy in a love relationship for a long time.
It doesn’t mean that you can’t argue or have strong feelings about something. You can.
That’s not what I’m talking about here.
I’m talking about overreacting in such a way that has little logical connection to the activating event, such as blowing up over a stain on the carpet or punishing with silence and withdrawal for days because you were a half an hour late for something.
How can you help your partner regulate their emotions? You can’t, of course. You only have control over what YOU do, not what your partner does. But that doesn’t mean that you have no influence on your partner. (More on that later in this article…)
However, if you’re the one that often flies off the handle over any little slight, or get easily offended or frustrated, one way to regulate your emotions is to ask yourself:
Can you get curious about what you’re feeling?
Can you take at least 10 seconds before responding?
Can you ask yourself if your partner deserves what you’re about to accuse them of?
Can you stay with the feeling and allow it to dissipate a little bit first?
Can you make the feeling and reaction even stronger? Because if you can make it stronger you can make it weaker—even go away.
Working on regulating your own emotions and taking responsibility for them, instead of letting your emotions run away with you or continue to escalate, can really help you strengthen the connection you have with your partner.
But what if your partner is the one who is challenged by emotional regulation? Is there anything you can do to help them see how they’re undermining your happiness as a couple, other than getting defensive or arguing your point?
In other words, how can you influence them to change?
That’s where the SECOND critical skill for relationship longevity and happiness comes into play…
Sometimes, those who know and love us best can see us better than we can see ourselves.
One thing you might see is that your partner is overreacting to events most of the time, and it’s creating a lot of tension and unhappiness in the relationship that doesn’t have to be there.
Your partner may see things about you that you haven’t realized about yourself, either.
Now, while you can only control your own behavior, it doesn’t mean you can’t influence your partner to make changes in their behavior.
This is where the #2 most important factor for relational longevity and happiness comes in, according to the research: the ability to offer and receive feedback on each other’s behavior.
Your partner blows up about the mayonnaise jar, and you offer them feedback that you feel their reaction was over-the-top, and made you feel much worse than the situation warranted.
Your partner may offer you feedback about how they would have felt more relaxed if you had just called to say you were going to be late, instead of keeping them in suspense about when you’d be home that night of the hailstorm.
You or your partner may not necessarily agree with each other’s observations.
The point is that your partner sees things about you that you perhaps you cannot see.
And if you never do anything you don’t agree with, how will you ever change or grow? You won’t!
It’s a critical skill to be able to give and receive feedback in any relationship, take what your partner is saying to heart, and at least try to make changes accordingly. When you can fine-tune that skill, you can create a rock-solid connection in your love relationship as well as in all your close relationships.
And that’s key, because as long as you know how to keep the connection you have with your partner strong, resilient, and loving, you can weather just about any challenge.
You’ll see problems as opportunities for relational growth or adventure, instead of impediments to your closeness.
There will be WAY less criticism, defensiveness, withdrawal, and contempt. Those unpleasant aspects of your daily life will fade and disappear.
You’ll begin to see all the things your partner is doing right, not focus on everything they’re doing wrong.
It starts with knowing the right skills and then practicing them, every day.The 5 Skills for a Lifetime of Love
Giving and receiving feedback can either be a source of healing for a couple or it can be a source for further contention if you don’t know how to communicate well with each other.
You can’t just complain to your partner, “Why do you make everything a drama?!” or command them to start regulating their emotions.
They may get defensive or accuse you of being the one with the problem.
That’s not helpful.
It’s also not helpful when every time you try to have a heart-to-heart talk with your partner, you get interrupted, or the conversation is left hanging because you haven’t timed your discussion appropriately.
Or maybe you don’t have trouble speaking your truth or finding the time, but your partner clams up every time you want to bring up something emotional or relationship-oriented.
That’s why the skills and tools I offer in my video program, Wake Up In A New Marriage, can be so valuable and helpful.
In Class 3 of this program, you’ll learn more about the importance and benefits of giving and receiving feedback, as well as how to pay attention to your own reactions and emotions and take responsibility for them.
In Class 5, you’ll learn the biological reason men and women have different preferences for how they talk or express themselves, and the strategies you can use to work with these differences in your own relationship, instead of fighting against them.
You’ll learn what to do to take advantage of “transition moments”—or times during the day when your partner is most emotionally open—so your partner naturally becomes more amenable to change and receptive of feedback later.
And you’ll know why you need to avoid these 5 words at all costs if you’re a woman who wants to have a discussion with your man: “Honey, we need to talk.” (You’ll learn how to rephrase that to inspire a man to be more receptive.)
It’s all in my video program, Wake Up In A New Marriage, which you can start watching in a matter of minutes here, risk-free:Get All These Skills
It doesn’t matter that you’ve spent months or even years walking on eggshells around your partner. Today is a new day. You can turn things around, if you’re open to learning and growing.
When you take the time to learn the skills that research has shown to be invaluable to keeping a couple connected, you can wake up in a new marriage and be relaxed and open around each other, without fearing each other’s reaction.
May you have an extraordinary day,
P.S. Is your partner angry all the time?
Anger is often used to hide other emotions, such as embarrassment or fear. If you want to learn more about the psychology of anger and why you or your partner may be overreacting to things, you’ll want to tune in to Class 3 of Wake Up In A New Marriage, where we reveal the hidden causes of anger. Then in Class 5, you’ll learn how to communicate your concerns with your partner.Start Watching