How do you keep your relationship healthy and free of toxicity? There are some very positive things you can do to keep your relationship vibrant and healthy. Here are three strong steps:
1. Be sure you are listening more than you are talking. Bottom line: we all want to be heard. We want to be seen and understood. When you are talking, making your point, I will likely be thinking of my next point so that I can be heard. Instead of bringing the relationship closer, this often makes us feel further apart.
2. When anger, defensiveness, and blame arises, realize that there is a part of us that doesn’t feel safe in that moment. The behaviors that follow are some of the ways we push people away, try to get them to stop what they are doing, so we will feel safe. Looking at outbursts from this vantage point helps us have compassion for ourselves and the other person. Ask yourself: “What do I (or the other person) need right now to feel safe?” This begins to invite compassion and compromise. It also often brings the energy back down to a manageable level. Doing this also helps us get to the unmet expectations and unmet needs beneath the anger.
3. When things get heated, ask yourself: What’s the most important thing here? Is it my being right? Is it him admitting what he did something wrong? Or, is the most important thing the quality of our relationship and how it grows over time? Could the most important thing be that we each feel heard and understood, that we each feel safe to express our feelings and needs? When we look at our long-range goals in a relationship we can avoid a lot of toxic behavior.