By Susan C. Foster
We all want trust in our relationships—to give it and to receive it. Few things are worse than finding out you cannot trust your partner, or that they are unreasonably jealous which can drive your partner away. Often, relationships don’t survive it.
You can make your relationship strong enough, however, that when tough times come, you won’t have to worry about your partner turning to someone else—they will rally behind you because you are their best friend as well as their lover.
Here are a few things you can do to ensure your relationship with your partner is cheat-proof:
1. Never go to bed mad.
Good communication is one of those things everyone tells you to work on, and it’s key to a great relationship. However, adults with their own opinions are eventually going to disagree—sometimes strongly. The key is to take care of it before it becomes a relationship killer.
Make a rule between the two of you: you will solve it before you go to bed. Even if you have to “agree to disagree” and discuss it later when cooler heads may be able to see both sides, don’t let it fester.
2. When you do fight, stick to the issue.
When there are arguments—and there will be—keep the discussion on the behavior you are unhappy with and how it makes you feel. Never say, “You always…..” and never attack the other person personally.
For example, if you know your partner is insecure about her weight, mentioning it when you are angry about another issue will leave her feeling unhappy and insecure. And it probably doesn’t have anything to do with why you are angry.
3. Pay some compliments to make positive deposits in the relationship.
In his famous book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People , Stephen Covey told a story about the importance of making emotional deposits in relationships. He explains that, like a bank account, healthy relationships thrive when there are more “deposits” made than there are “withdrawals.” In other words, you have more positive encounters with someone than you have negative ones. Examples of deposits could be something as simple as saying “thank you” for picking up your clothes at the dry cleaners or asking how her day was.
When we do more criticizing than appreciating, it can damage the relationship, and can often leave it unrepairable. When challenges arise–and they most assuredly will–your relationship is “overdrawn.”
It’s hard to get a commitment (or cash!) from an overdrawn account. The relationship becomes one-sided, with one person doing all the giving.
Waiting until it’s time to complain before you make that deposit doesn’t work either. That’s called manipulation, and it’s transparent to your partner. Everyone loves to be told “thank you” for what they do, even if it’s chores around the house.
4. Laugh often and have some fun.
When most of our time is spent finding something to laugh about, and finding ways to have fun, it makes the hard times and stresses easier to get through. What is it that you and your partner like to do together? What are some things you can do to add more fun and laughter on a daily basis? It doesn’t have to be expensive—just silly.
Don’t take yourselves so seriously.
5. Practice deep listening.
Deep listening is a way of listening to our partner where we are fully present in the moment with the person who is speaking, and we are not trying to judge or control the conversation. We let go of our assumptions, to hear what is being said . We are listening for the emotions, motives, needs and goals of the person who is speaking.
Most of us have times when our mind wanders, and at the end of the conversation, we don’t remember what’s been said. I certainly have been guilty of this many times. I’ve struggled with overcoming the urge to jump in and give an answer before the other person had even finished speaking. That was because rather than listening, I thought I already knew what they were going to say (and the answer) and wanted to move on to something else.
Deep listening, on the other hand, helps us put the context into how our partner is feeling, which isn’t always the same as what she’s saying.
This post was originally posted at The Good Men Project.