6 Tips to Improve Your Relationships Today
We are SO happy and excited to be sharing this space with you all (thanks, Amanda)! We’re Carly and Jackie, the co-founders of RelationSips, and we are two couples therapists (registered MFT interns!) who are passionate about all things relationships.
Our goal with RelationSips is to bridge the gap between relationship research and relationship reality. We're here to do the research, distill the important parts, and serve it up to you in a way that can actually change your life… And trust us, we’ll serve it to you straight up. RelationSips is your virtual local bar where you can sit down with your favorite glass of wine and a side of relationship expertise. The idea for RelationSips came to us back in graduate school, when we were carpooling home from a long day of class. In true therapist fashion, we were reflecting on how privileged we felt to have access to research that had changed our own lives and relationships, and although we get to share this with our clients on a daily basis, we wanted to do more.
Our hope is that we can share information with you that has empowered us in our own relationships, and that this will add value to your life in the same way that it has for us. On that note, we want to share 6 quick and dirty tips to improve your relationships today.
1. “I”-statements We LOVE “I”-statements! Not only do they prevent arguments from starting, but they also make arguments more manageable when they do come up (which they inevitably will). Sentences that start with a “you!” statement breed defensiveness and make it harder for your partner to hear you. “I”-statements allow your partner to really hear your important message and kick defensiveness out the door.
Quick Tip: Next time you really want to communicate a message to your partner, try using an “I”-statement” to share your experience. And FYI: Saying “I think you’re being a jerk right now” doesn’t count.
2. Treat Yo’ Self Self-care is SO important. It is nearly impossible to show up for the people in our lives in a real way if we aren’t taking care of ourselves on a regular basis.
Quick Tip: Over the next week, try making a list of all the activities, routines, and practices that help you feel energized, peaceful, content, or happy. Whether it’s your weekly yoga class, FaceTiming with your BFF, cooking delicious and healthy meals, or simply spending an extra five minutes in the hot shower, putting time and energy into your self-care will help you be emotionally available for all of the amazing people in your life.
3. Just Say No Let’s talk about boundaries. We need healthy boundaries in order to be kind, loving, compassionate people. In fact, we think boundaries are the ultimate form of self-care (see #2). If we don’t set boundaries, we end up feeling resentful and bitter toward the people in our lives. Not fun. It is okay to say “no” sometimes (just make sure to do it in a kind and gentle way).
Quick Tip: You never need to justify your “no”s.
4. Let’s Talk About Needs, Baby This is the best trick to clue your partner into what works for you-- and what doesn’t. Sometimes we can all fall into the trap of “mindreading,” where we expect our partners to “just know” what we are needing and wanting. (“You should’ve known I wanted a chai tea latte!”) This can set up arguments, because let’s get real- no one can actually know what we are needing unless we clearly tell them.
Quick Tip: Hinting to your partner what you want to do this weekend by tagging them in memes doesn’t count. Make sure to state your specific need clearly.
5. Listen! Listen to hear, not to respond. We know how hard it can be to not interrupt when someone you love is telling a story or sharing an experience, but the greatest gift you can give the people in your life is your uninterrupted listening.
Quick Tip: Since they’re talking the talk, walk the walk by giving nonverbal cues such as eye contact, open body language, and putting your phone down (even if you are waiting for a text from the delivery guy).
6. Be Vulnerability Be brave. Be bold. Be yourself. Because if we don’t show our partners who we really are, will they ever truly know us? Vulnerability draws people close to us and creates safety in our relationships to be ourselves and accept our partners for who they are.
Quick Tip: Vulnerability can be really hard, especially when being vulnerable in the past hasn’t been safe. If it’s feeling impossible to express your vulnerability, therapy is always a great option.