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What Do You Need To Have A Healthy Relationship?

Part 1 of 14 from Communication Essentials

In graduate school I took a course on Couples Therapy. One of the questions that our professor asked right in the very beginning of the program was, “What is the most important thing that a couple needs in order to have a sound, long-lasting, healthy relationship?”

There were many answers – love, truthfulness, passion, great sex, hope, being kind to one another, doing for the other person, being helpful, talking and open communications, touching them, anticipating the needs of the other person, the answers went on and on.

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Well, all of these can be components of a healthy relationship but the answer he gave us that he said was the bottom-line in every relationship is trust. If you don’t have trust the other aspects won’t work very well either.

We’re going to look at strategies that can help us (when we have trust in our relationship) to make it even better. Things that if our trust is beginning to waiver a bit, can strengthen it and help it grow and flourish again.

All relationships have up and downs. There are none that don’t.

I’m certain you’ve experienced some of that yourself, some of the really high highs and some of the very painful lows. There are things that we can each do to make a difference. There are essentials for building relationships and making sure we have great communication. I’m going to give you tips that will help you build more effective relationships.

Making Requests vs. Demands

Tip number one is make requests of your partner, not demands. A demand is actually the third step of six steps in building anger. When you make a request of someone, with the attitude that any answer (including that it’s not appropriate, not time or that they don’t want to do what you requested) will be acceptable, life gets easier.

A demand is a form of command for something. It’s a forceful expectation. It’s a command that the thing they want must be given. It’s almost like pounding on the table. If one partner says “I have something needing done right now. Do you have time to give me a hand?” If they say yes, that’s fine. If not, that’s fine, too. You can either say, “Well, would you help me with it a little later?” or “Okay, I’ll just go ahead and do it myself.”

That’s very different than, “This has to be done right now! I need you to get over here and give me a hand!”

One leaves it open. The person can help or not help. If they do, great; if they don’t, that’s okay, too. The other is a demand which is in their face, they’ve got to do what you want them to do.

A demand is normally very easy to recognize because if it isn’t done, the person usually receives repercussions as a result. The repercussion can be a punishment of sorts–a remark, a gesture, rolling eyes, a negative innuendo, getting the silent treatment, someone turning away and not giving when someone else wants something. Demands are truly like pounding on the table.

When we make a request, it’s an open ended thing. If it works, fine. If it doesn’t, that’s not the end of the world. Our lives become much easier when we’re able to make requests to those we love and those we care about rather than demanding of them that they capitulate or do what we want when we want it.

(to be continued…)

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