As we know, love is work. As much as love can get immaturely reduced to happy feelings, epic dates and lust, the fact is, the core of what makes the wheels of a relationship turn smoothly for year after year is meaningful communication and effort.
While some techniques to communicate well are obvious (like, actually speaking up, not yelling while arguing, listening to listen versus listening to speak, etc), there are a couple of psychological techniques you can leverage to really make your relationship a safe haven for love.
Psychology Today writer, Ronald E. Riggio compiled a couple of psych strategies you can implement into your relationship that can make your bond even stronger.
The Expectancy Effect
What if you were daringly optimistic about what your partner could do and/or achieve? According to Riggio: “Holding positive expectations about your loved one (“You are a good person”; “I think you are fabulous”; “You will succeed”) can not only make them feel better, but make them perform better as well.”
Norm Of Reciprocity
When someone is nice to us, we are inspired to return that favor. By initiating a kind action that benefits your partner, you can motivate them to do the same.
“The key is to keep the norm in positive territory – focusing on our loved one’s positive attributes and behavior,” Riggio explains.
” Compliment, perform some favor, help out with some chore – and you will usually receive something positive in return.”
This may sound biblical, but we must forgive so that we can be forgiven. No one is perfect, and extending space to make mistakes can keep you both from walking on egg shells.
Riggio explains that, “When your partner transgresses, it is important to maintain the relationship that you forgive. We all make mistakes, and by showing forgiveness, we can model how to begin to repair fractured relationships.”
Unconditional Positive Regard
Unconditional positive regard asks a partner to be fully accepting and supportive of your loved on regardless of their background, experiences, or the imperfect way they phrase things. This one is a little difficult, and requires a world of trust, but if mastered, it can be a beautiful thing.
“You need to suspend your own feelings and opinions, and just value the other individual. Over time, demonstrating unconditional positive regard should be returned by your partner,” Riggio recommends.
Of course, you don’t want to do this to the extent that it harms you, or them, but giving space to let humans be flawed humans is necessary.
When someone vents to us we always want to chime in, suggest or offer advice. Empathetic listening requires that we just sit still and feel what they are saying deeply.
“One difficulty is our tendency to want to say something – to offer advice or make suggestions – but it is important to focus simply on gaining understanding of our partner’s emotions and concerns, and to demonstrate that we understand their feelings,” Riggio says.