Handling anger and avoiding arguments.: One of the major problems with anger and the arguments that result is that neither partner does much, if anything, to avoid them. People are motivated by the need to prevail or be “right” about the conflict-arousing issue. One or the other person in the couple “takes the bait” which hooks them into an argument. This is avoided by the conversation remaining conversational. Additionally couples can postpone conversation until they restore calm. This is not always easy, but certainly possible.
Listening to each other.: This is extremely important. Couples in conflict are often so busy preparing their indictment of the other person or their defense of themselves that they simply do not listen and hear what is being said. Thus, their responses are often not responses at all, but their next statement—perhaps entirely unrelated to what was just said to them. This is one of the main reasons, I believe, why too many couples recycle the same issues and arguments repeatedly and rarely if ever feel as though any conversation (or “attack and defend” exchange) accomplishes anything. Couples often need help to learn to listen to each other so that the dynamic between them changes to one that is productive. That is the job of good therapy.
Saying “I’m sorry”.:, Often it is hard to simply say sorry. You often hear statements like, “I know it’s the right thing to do and I feel sorry…I just can’t say it!” Such responses suggest the likelihood that the person might feel “weak” or “defeated” if they publicly acknowledge their sorrow or regret.
Expressing Gratitude.: When partners in a couple feel and express gratitude or appreciation for each other, each of them feels cherished and valued and it enhances the relationship. Expressions of appreciation is not have to be confined to major gestures or actions. “Thanks honey, for feeding the dog is just as meaningful as a thank you for a monumental gift or kindness.
Changing.: Changing the “little things” that persist over time. These are the kinds of changes that, with some effort, might be easy to accomplish. Additionally have far greater dividends than the investment required to achieve them. When people feel ignored or, worse, devalued by their partners, resentments develop that can become toxic to the relationship.
Treating each other as special.: A wife once complained that upon leaving a party, her husband helped every other woman guest on with her coat—except her. When she questioned him about this, his reply was “Well, that’s because you’re my wife!” Her response: “That’s the point!” That she felt taken for granted was not surprising. Moments like this may be insignificant if they are infrequent, but if they typify an attitude or are common in the relationship, they have the potential to cause diminished regard and affection for the offending partner.
Hurting with words.: The damage potential of comments made in the heat of battle is extremely high. There is a tendency on the part of the offending partner to dismiss or trivialize those remarks afterward. Saying “I didn’t really mean it, I was just angry,” often makes things worse.. Words cause wounds that are not easily to heal when calm is restored.