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Ins and Outs of Healthy Relationships, Part 2

Amy Setzer, Legal Assistant

If you read the previous blog, you know April is Couples Appreciation Month.  Those of you going through a divorce probably don’t find this fact something to celebrate. Here at Woodruff Family Law Group, we work hard not only to help our clients get through their big “D”, but to get past it as well.  Part of moving forward after a strenuous break-up is healing yourself and hopefully finding new love.  While getting back in the saddle is tough, staying in it can be even tougher. Whether you find yourself in a new relationship or feel like the one you’re in has lost its sparkle, here’s some more tips on strengthening your bond with your special someone.

Do listen to your partner. Don’t question or tell your other half how they feel. 

Ever had this conversation?  “I’m not angry.”  “Yes, you are.”

How about this one? “What’s wrong?” “Nothing, I’m just tired.”  “Okay, whatever you say.”  (Insert eye roll here.)

And the coup de grace: “You’re overreacting. There’s nothing to be upset about.”  “You want to see overreacting? I’ll show you overreacting.” Well, maybe that last part is just me.

People can’t control how they feel in certain situations, they can only control how they act on and deal with those feelings. Emotions are an instinctive reaction to what is happening in our worlds. Just because you think something is small, unimportant, or silly doesn’t mean your partner does. What may nonchalantly roll off your back might be like nails on a chalkboard for them. Why your partner feels the way they do is less important than how they feel. It’s critical to validate and acknowledge each other’s feelings no matter how bizarre you might find them. This is how trust is built. This is how you let each other know you’re equally important in the relationship. This is how you make each other feel supported.

Examples of Listening to Your Partner’s Needs

As an example, here’s a little glimpse into my sporadically OCD world. You can leave shoes anywhere you want in my house. You can sprinkle the floors with your dirty socks—I don’t care. But may you experience all the wrath from the bowels of Hell if you leave a dirty dish in my kitchen sink. I don’t expect you to wash it as soon as you’re finished. I just hate going to fill the Brita and having to move a bunch of crusty plates and glasses out of the way.

My ex turned a deaf ear on my multiple requests (to the point of practically begging him) to please, please, please rinse your spoons slathered in tuna and your plates caked with dried mustard and stack them up neatly on the counter. Please. He turned a deaf ear to my pleas. After a while I even suspected he was doing it on purpose to be spiteful. To my ex, dishes in the sink was a dumb thing to get irritated about and I should just ‘get over it.’ That told me he didn’t care enough about me or my feelings to change such a simple thing. To him, I mattered that little. My current boyfriend is a whole different story. I asked him one time and a dirty fork hasn’t touched that porcelain since.

So, when your sweetheart tells you they do or don’t feel a certain way, don’t question why they feel it. The why only matters in so far as changing it might save you from another night on the couch. When they tell you how they feel, you should believe them, listen to them, and if you can fix it just fix it.