Nicole Wiesen, M.A., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Therapy for individuals, couples and teens

Relationship Rescue: Tips on Resolving Relationship Crises
(Excerpt from Practice Planners Brief Couples Therapy Homework Planner, by Arthur E. Jongsma, Jr., Series Editor)


Relationships are either win/win or lose/lose. If either of you loses, you both lose, because the relationship suffers. While it is tempting to get righteous or prove your partner wrong, it sets up a barrier to understanding and listening. Instead, imagine for a moment that there is another way of seeing the situation that might be different.


  • Catch your partner doing something right

Make note of and speak to your partner about everything that you can think of to give them credit for in the recent past.Tell them about times when you felt cared about, helped or understood by them and the specific things that they did that led you to feel that way. Catch them doing or almost doing something you want them to do differently and praise them for it. Notice when they do something during an argument that seems more fair, more compassionate or friendly or that helps you to resolve things. (Hint: You can also catch yourself doing something right and silently give yourself credit. Notice when you are being flexible, compassionate and understanding.

  • Focus on how you can change, not your partner and take responsibility for making that change

Even if your partner is the source of the problem, this method involves you assuming responsibility for making changes. This is based on the idea that people are responsive to changes around them.If you stop doing the tango and start doing the fox trot, your partner will have a harder time doing the old tango steps. So, figure out places in the usual course of things that go wrong in which you have a moment of choice to do something different and new that isnít harmful or destructive.

  • Try compassionate listening

Sometimes the simplest solution is to just stop and listen to what your partner is saying and imagine how he or she could be feeling that way or seeing things in that light. Donít try to defend yourself, correct their perceptions or talk them out of their feelings. Just put yourself in their position and try to hear how they understand, interpret and feel about the situation and imagine how you would feel or act if you were seeing things that way. Express that understanding to them and let them know hoe difficult it must be for them, given how they are feeling about the situation.


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