In his 2008 book, The New Rules of Marriage: What You Need to Know to Make Love Work, Terrence Real, distinguished therapist and bestselling author, draws upon his experience working with thousands of couples to teach frustrated partners how to get their mates to show up (and grow up!).
Real speaks of actively shaping the relationship, constantly looking inward and asking, “What can I do to make this better?” For starters, he advises us to completely remove the following five “losing strategies” from our relational vocabulary:
- the need to be right
- controlling of one’s partner
- unbridled self-expression
He then offers a set of effective tools with which partners can empower themselves to create a truly intimate relationship:
- Identify and articulate your wants and needs. Shift from complaint to request. Go after what you want, after figuring out what exactly it is you want, and then speak out with love. Complain constructively, focusing on what you would like from your partner in order to feel closer and more connected, rather than on what s/he is doing wrong.
- Listen well and respond generously. Listen and respond with generosity. Men, like women, commonly feel unlistened to and unappreciated, and yearn to be told they are doing something well.
- Set limits, and stand up for yourself, without trying to control. We become more empowered and less angry when we are clear about our boundaries, yet let go of control.
- Embrace and appreciate what you have. “Remember that the person you are speaking to is someone you love and are choosing to be with. If you can’t remember that because you are too angry and hurt at the moment, at least remember you have to live with them.”
- Know when to seek outside help.