6 Therapists Share Their #1 Piece of Relationship Advice
Having people in your life to guide your choices and support you through the ups and downs is important; you probably rely on your mom and best friend for advice when things get tough. And sometimes, a therapist is the perfect addition to your support network to provide some outside perspective and professional guidance. There are SO many positives to seeing a therapist, but if you need a little pick-me-up, like, right now, then read on for six therapists’ number one piece of relationship advice.
1. “Great relationships are made of a million micro-moments.” “A micro-moment is the daily grind of your relationship; it’s how you choose to show up to your partner, day after day. For example, are you in a bad mood in the morning? Maybe you say a judgmental statement about your partner’s best friend or parent. Not checking in when you see your partner is upset or stressed? Off-loading child care, over and over? Micro-moments are small; you won’t notice them unless you start to look for them. A great partner is someone who chooses to make their relationship the single most important asset of their life. Every single day.” — Erika Boissiere, Couples and Marriage Licensed Therapist
2. “Love requires courage.” “Hack your courage! Relationships require vulnerability and sometimes it can be quite scary to open up to our partner. Fear of being misunderstood, rejected, and shamed is the primary reason we hold back. When we hold back, we are essentially saying that we don’t trust that we will be loved if we show something that we believe does not put us in a good light. That is completely understandable. We all get afraid. That’s precisely why we need to be courageous. The courage to be open helps to create the very vulnerability that builds connection between two people. Without courage, we are isolated, alone, living in fear, and disconnected because we did not risk. Love requires risk. Love requires courage.” — Dr. Gary Brown, licensed psychotherapist
3. “Individuals need to have their own outlets for happiness in a relationship.” “Your partner will change over time and they will never be able to fulfill all your needs at all times. Expecting our partner to be the sole source of our happiness places an immense amount of pressure on the individual and the relationship. Imagine you are dating. Think of all the interesting, intriguing things you did that made you you. Keep up that yoga class on Saturdays that brings you joy, spend time with your friends, take pride in your career. The second we give up the need for our partner to make us happy, a positive and mutually beneficial relationship, filled with much happiness, is possible.” — Whitney Hawkins, licensed psychotherapist
4. “Be authentic.” “Never go against who you truly are at your core, because the authentic you will ALWAYS come out at some point. This doesn’t mean you aren’t capable of change and growth, but when you start going against your core values, or the core values of your relationship, things have gone off the rails and it’s time to stop and figure out what’s going on. Glossing over it or continuing to go along with it never works out in the long run.” — Carolyn Wagner, MA, LPC
5. “Be curious.” “My best advice is to ‘Be curious.’ This helps in all areas of the relationship. When there’s conflict, it helps to ask what your partner means. If you don’t like a word he or she uses, ask how they would define it. In this way, you can come to some understandings rather than mismatching what you are trying to communicate. If we give our partners the benefit of the doubt and ask questions rather than assume they are trying to do you harm, we are happier and have a more peaceful connection.” — Janet Zinn, LCSW
6. “Become a team.” “It’s really hard to distill down into a singular piece of advice, but if I had to, it would be ‘become a team.’ When you are a part of a team, you are willing to work with the abilities of both you and your partner to reach a particular goal. You don’t abandon who you are or how you do things, but you are willing to make adjustments for the good of the team. You learn to work together, which requires the ability to be self-aware and the ability to communicate concerns when things aren’t working. You recognize that the team — your relationship — can’t win if one of you is losing. You embrace the idea that, while you play your position, you are part of something bigger.” — Lesli Doares, couples consultant and coach
What’s the best relationship advice you’ve ever received? Let us know @BritandCo!
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