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Bringing Out The Best in Your Relationship
by Kali Munro

13. Have complaint sessions. Sometimes couples build up resentments that need airing. It can help to have a "complaint session." One person starts by saying all the things that are bothering her/him, while their partner listens and encourages them to continue by saying, "what else?

Sometimes by delving deeper, the one who is complaining realizes that there's more to the complaints than what s/he originally thought. 

The one complaining may start out angry but often will soften, and become more aware of what is really bothering her/him, and what s/he needs.

The listener's job is to listen, without comment, and to try not to take it personally.

What you are hearing is an indication of how frustrated or angry your partner is right now. 

Keep in mind that it's not all about you, even if most of the anger is being directed at you. You can switch roles when the first person is done, or at a later time.

14. Take time out.

When a conflict is not going anywhere, it can help to take some time away from your partner.

Couples usually make up rules about time out, such as don't leave the house, and having a set amount of time for the time out, like 30 minutes, before checking back in with each other about whether or not they can continue the discussion. 

In cars, time out can just mean that no one talks for a set amount of time.

Either partner can call time out, and it should mean immediate silence for an agreed-upon time.

It is always better to have the amount of time set prior to an argument, or you will argue about that! 

Some couples don't set a specific amount of time, but remain silent for a while, and when they have calmed down enough to feel compassion, they check in with each other about their mutual readiness to continue the conversation or to let it go for now.

15. Listen carefully.

If your partner is trying to tell you something and you don't understand, listen carefully, ask clarifying questions, check out what you think they are saying, and keep trying to understand.

Many arguments arise from our not really listening to each other, or assuming that we know what the other person is saying without checking it out first.

It is always best to check that you understood the other person correctly.

But if you want your relationship to be based on respect, compassion, and clear communication, it's a good idea to try to follow these guidelines or others that work for you, as much as possible.

Of course, you won't be able to follow these guidelines one hundred percent of the time, and that's okay; no one can.

About the Author:
 Kali Munro, M.Ed., is a psychotherapist in private practice in Toronto, Canada. She has twenty years experience specializing in a variety of issues including sexual abuse, relationships, sexuality, eating disorders, and body image. She provides individual and couple therapy in Toronto, as well as online. She offers free healing resources at her web site about relationships, abuse, sexuality, and much more. Check out her inspiring and healing site www.KaliMunro.com

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