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Improving Intimate Connections
by Jan Tribble

Many times our relationship with our dearest partner seems to need a bit of a tune up, but often we are at a loss as to how to accomplish that. Of course, we tend to think the fault lies with the other person and if only they’d do X or Y, things would get better. The problem is we have no control over what another person does. The good news is we do have control over what we do.

The other day, as I was reading Making Intimate Connections, by Dr. Albert Ellis and Ted Crawford, I was struck by the simplicity of the seven guidelines and the ease with which a person might incorporate them into her/his daily interactions. Paraphrased these concepts are as follows:

  • Acceptance: Accept your partner just the way he/she is. It’s not your job to change or “fix” him/her. Of course, he/she has the freedom to change but doesn’t HAVE to do so.
  • Express appreciation of your partner often. Don’t be continually criticizing. Nothing is more destructive to your relationship. Find as many little things as possible to value about your partner…of course, big things, as well.
  • Make honesty work for you by communicating from integrity. Be both honest and tactful. They are not mutually exclusive. Be honest about your own feelings and thoughts. However, when you’re wrong, promptly admit it. Allow for differences in thinking/beliefs.
  • Share and explore differences with your partner. Preferences need not become demands and strong emotions often come into play. Compromise can become very important.
  • Without surrendering your integrity, go as far as you can to support your partner’s goals and purposes. In a healthy relationship, each person wants the other to be the best he/she can be.
  • Keep in mind, everyone is right sometimes and everyone is wrong sometimes. Give your partner the “right to be wrong.”
  • When thinking about your “wants,” consider calling them goals. This gives you both more time to work on them. Also, remember your partner may be working on something in a very different way than you would.

These seven guidelines offer some powerful tools for changing your relationship in positive ways. Keep in mind you can choose to implement some of them whether or not you partner does.

About the author:

Jan Tribble is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and has been for over 20 years. Primarily, she has workedwith women in the following areas: domestic violence,addictions, eating disorders, sexual assault and molestation. Currently, she is working at a domestic violence agency both at the shelter with the women and children and at the resource office where she counsels women from the community who are not in shelter. She finds the work challenging but extremely rewarding.