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Fix Your Partner - the Blog

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Every week I will introduce a topic that comes up in counseling with my clients and offer ways you can navigate the issue if it shows up in your relationship.

By Marlon Familton, Jun 9 2015 08:02PM

I have seen a few articles and blurbs around that suggest happy couples report spending five hours “working” on their relationship. This includes talking after work, cuddling on the couch, going out together (ideally on a date), kissing and generally being with each other.


I’m not sure if there is an optimal time, however I will tell you that if you break up five hours over the week, it makes good sense. I will also tell you that from my anecdotal observations couples in distress typically spend very little time together “working” on the relationship. They might talk about bills, who’s calling the landscaper or who is picking the kids up from school, but that is all task oriented conversation. Conversation that will help maintain the relationship connection needs to be about maintenance.

“How was your day?” Is the typical question asked in the evening. That can be okay if a couple things happen.


1. It is preceded or includes a hug and a kiss for connection (not sex).

2. There are follow up questions that communicate “I know you.”


If your routine has punted the relationship to fourth or fifth on your list of priorities, I will suggest that is a ticking time bomb of disconnection. Your relationship is a living breathing thing, or at least think of it that way. It needs nurturing and oxygen to survive. Your relationship needs time and attention, which means it needs you to take time to be invested in it with your partner, and they with you.


Agree to spend 15 minutes every night, sitting, talking and catching up on each other’s lives. Preceded by a hug, I promise it can help your relationship feel better fast.


By Marlon Familton, May 11 2015 10:30PM

The ability to take ownership is a critical step in repairing relationship hurts. If you are in a relationship with a partner who is does not take ownership for their own words, behaviors, or contribution you just might be miserable. If you don’t get ownership, you probably get defensiveness, justifying or dismissiveness. This leaves you having to take all the blame, which is of course unfair and will leave you angry and eventually resentful.


When confronted with your emotions or needs, you may also witness your partner shifting into their own shame and guilt. This often leads to that defensiveness and fighting. Here, you may find yourself backing away from what you need, or putting your emotions aside to help them feel better. Either way, you won’t feel like being cuddly and intimate.


To work on this you will have to model taking ownership and eventually ask for it from your partner.


On the other hand, if you are the one who cannot take ownership, you have some work to do. If you leave your partner with all the responsibility, you will find them moving distant from you. If you cannot own your contribution they will not feel empathy or compassion from, instead they will feel unfairly treated and become angry and resentful. This will lead to less, not more intimacy, emotional or physical. You will not be seen as an emotionally safe person, so they will not come to you with emotions and problems. Instead they will learn to need you less.


In chapter six of my book Fix Your Partner in 10 Easy Steps or Less!, I dig into repair and ownership. Without ownership you cannot have repair. Without repair, eventually the rug will have so much stuff swept underneath, things will leak out and poison your relationship. So learn to take ownership of your own behavior. Live by the motto, “take responsibility and give credit” and you will find yourself in happy relationships, at home and at work. Try it!


By Marlon Familton, May 1 2015 12:50AM

When you take out, do you put back in? Your relationship is a partnership. This means you and your partner are supposed to feel like a team. When one of you pitches in more energy to help the other, that energy has to come back around or things won't feel fair. When lack of fairness persists, resentment will settle in.


In order to curb unfairness, you have to make sure you offer and try to put back in. If you have worked late three nights in a row leaving your partner home alone or managing the kids, don't expect them to smile when you announce you're heading out with friends on night four. They have just sacraficed time with you to let you do your thing. What will come back their way? Something has to feel fair for them or they will become resentful.


So the next time you ask to take out of the relationship, be sure to offer something in return.

By Marlon Familton, May 1 2015 12:33AM

Every week in therapy with my couples, a theme emerges. One week it might be partner struggling with money issues, another week it might be parenting struggles, or it might be partners on their phones too much. I thought this would be a great place for me to talk about the themes that arise and suggest ways to deal with them. I hope you find pearls here that will help you and your partner build the secure adn loving relationship you want.


I look forward to sharing and hearing what you think. Welcome!

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