Rules for Our Relationships


Making rules to govern a relationship sounds like something kids would do, but what if a set of rules helps couples treat each other.  Would you follow a few guidelines then?  We all learn to follow rules when we are little.  Rules show us right from wrong.  Rules keep us safe, coloring within the lines, or in other words, they keep us grounded.

As a couples specialist I wouldn’t say anyone really needs rules, but sometimes partners treat each other so poorly rules might actually help.

I work with many different kinds of couples.  Some partners speak kindly to each other, but many do not.  By the time couples enter counseling they have probably spent a lot of time saying mean things to their partners.  In some cases those mean things can even include swear words and degrading remarks.   Most couples that swear at each other know they should not be hollering at their partners and yet they do it anyway, most likely when an argument occurs.  It might even become a well worn pattern developed over time.

So how do couples learn to be nicer to each other?  Why not make a rule? NO SWEARING AT EACH OTHER.  Why not create an environment with a cuss free zone?

It’s likely you don’t cuss at work or call your boss names.  It’s probably safe to say you wouldn’t holler and yell these phrases at your parents or your children, so why not outlaw swearing because it’s something you shouldn’t do to your mate either?

You say you love your partner.  Show them by refraining from calling them names.  This conveys respect, and often in relationships that’s what’s missing.  It may be hard to break a habit if this has been ongoing for a while, but you and your partner can do this.  Just make a rule.  You made promises to each other when you first got together.  Make this another promise.  “I promise to not swear at you any more.”  Say this to each other, and mean it.  Practice it.  Maybe you put a jar in the kitchen and every time you slip you put in a quarter, or a dollar.  Make a game of it.  Just do something different to change how you talk to each other.

Both of you probably want to feel better in your relationship.  Speaking nicer to your mate is a great way to start.  If you are interested in another step, how about doing one nice thing for your partner every week?  This is a change from not doing anything nice for your partner to doing something nice for them.  Most of the couples I work with tell me they are waiting for their mate to do something for them.  Sometimes this wait goes on for a long time.  Doing something for the partner you are mad at is very different then waiting for them to be nice to you.

Imagine what it would be like in your home if the one you are at odds with actually does something special just for you?  Now think how he or she would feel if you did something special for him or her. You are trying on new behaviors.  When you do something different you get something different in exchange.  Maybe it will be a thank you.  Maybe it will be astonishment.  Maybe you will get a laugh.  It may be an improvement.

And isn’t this what you are after, something new, something different, something hopeful?

Send your comments to linda@lindanusbaum.com

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