Best Pieces of Relationship Advice Straight from Couples Counselors

Noemi J. Mullins

Your gyno will give you an annual exam. You eat well to prevent disease and keep fit. But what can you do to maintain a healthy relationship? I’m guessing not much. This is a shame because good relationship advice, especially when it comes from professionals in the field of psychology, can take any solid-gold love and make it diamond-level strong.

“Most people operate in crisis mode with their relationship and only give it sincere attention when there is a problem,” states Seth J. Gillihan Ph.D., a Philadelphia-based clinical psychologist. “But a relationship can be likened to a garden. Even when it’s flourishing, weeds can grow on it and take over.

This is why there has been an increase in “happy couples counseling”–which means that you can see an expert long before Splitsville ever occurs. This proactive approach, which is required for Catholic marriage, will help you to smoothen over any small (or large) issues and simply increase the love that you have for one another every day.

Here are the top 10 best pieces of relationship advice from the most experienced and real relationship therapists.

Always believe in the best

You can find something in your S.O.’s actions, regardless of whether you are an optimist or not. Because relationships are intimate, it’s only natural. However, 9/10 times (if you don’t do all 10), you will be able to tell if your partner is trying to upset or off-putting.

Gillihan says, “Especially when our partner is already in an irritated condition, we have a hair trigger to take things in the wrong direction and assume the worst.” You’re likely annoyed that your partner doesn’t let you off the hook if they feel personally offended or attacked by something we do.

Gillihan explains that we are more concerned with ourselves than with how others feel about us. Try this: Tell yourself In the morning, you will tell yourself Today, I will choose the most benign interpretation of whatever comes my way.

He says, “This mentality allows you to get over yourself” and can set an example for your signature to follow suit. What is the result? Both of you can concentrate on the positives and bounce back quickly from any “bad” moments.

Take note of projections

One thing that can cause confusion in interpretations is projection, a psychological term.

Projecting is simply when you project your feelings on someone else or about yourself. Although it is a subconscious habit, projection can lead you to believe that your partner feels the same way as you.

If you have trust problems from past cheating, you might take your partner’s comment that “You’re acting strange” as an accusation of being unfaithful. They’re simply asking why you have been so quiet the last two days.

Try to pause whenever possible and observe the situation or conversation for what it is. Also, consider your assumptions and insecurities. Ask yourself Do you believe X is true? . Then, let go of the notion that you know your S.O. is feeling, says Gillihan. they and you’ll never know the truth.

Prioritize intimacy

This is not about sex, although that is an important part of a relationship. I’m referring to the intimacy that comes from physical touch and genuine eye contact –all those little moments that make your heart sing.

Sussman says, “These are the things which remind your partner that this is a partnership and that you chose them and are happy they did.”

Your S.O. should be touched. When they make coffee, a quick hug around their waist works…just be sure not to spill.) Look at them in the eye when they tell you about their day. Take a shower together, snuggle, and sleep naked.

“If you see that your health is declining, this could be the right time to stop and think about what it might be. Is it their fault, yours, or both? Sussman says. You may consider seeking out a couple of therapists if you are unable to increase your own induction of this type of intimacy. This can help you and your partner to identify the root causes.

Actively check-in

Remember this: No matter how well you know someone, they will never understand what’s going inside of your head at all. Don’t expect them…ever. Dr. Chloe says that you can save yourself some drama by speaking your mind after having had time to process and collect the information. 

You probably have many thoughts, and your partner may be harboring the same. They might not feel that you would receive them well or that their voice of concern won’t result in positive change. So they just move on.

It’s okay to have minor disagreements (like them getting annoyed that you can’t decide what you want for dinner) but it won’t be a problem if you keep things in check.

Do your part to make your S.O. You can open up and check in with them from time to time. Ask them in a casual, non-confrontational manner (perhaps while you’re driving): “How do you feel about us these days?” What could I do to help you more?

Take the time to look at them

A long-term, secure relationship (and marriage) is absolutely wonderful. However, this security comes at a price: how “used” you are to your partner. Gillihan says, “There comes a time when we look at a projection of the person or their memory, not who they actually are in 3-D at the moment.” “That makes it easy to make assumptions about their needs based on their history and not the present.

People, including yourself, change over time. It’s up to you to be able to recognize this when you are with someone for the long term. Take a moment to look at your partner with fresh eyes, whether it’s on your next date night or after they return from a run.

Consider three things that they did well recently and think of how you feel about them. You can also try to say, “I see” instead of “I love,” and watch their reaction.

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