Anyone who has ever been in a relationship knows there can be lots of ups and downs. Below are 7 ways to make lasting changes in your relationship today. You can practice them by yourself or with your partner.

  1. Be curious when your partner gets defensive. This is probably one of the hardest things to do. When someone is defensive the automatic reaction is to be defensive back but if you can stop that cycle and say something like, “It seems like what I said really upset you and I’m not sure why, can you help me understand.” If you can take a time out from the heated moment of an argument and really try to understand why your partner is so upset you will be amazed at the results.

  2. Know what your own emotional needs are and share them with your partner. Often our emotional needs in a relationship come from things that were lacking in our childhood attachments. Ask yourself, “what do I need to feel safe, secure and loved in this relationship.” This can be a great activity for both of you to do together at a “safe” time when you haven't been arguing.

  3. Learn about attachment and how it may be affecting your interactions with your partner. You have probably heard about childhood attachment but you may not know that childhood attachment has a huge impact on adult attachment and how we interact with each other. Just think about your own childhood and what you would do if you needed help or felt like you were in trouble. Chances are it isn't that different from what you do now.

  4. Ask your partner often about their dreams and goals for the future. This will accomplish two things, it will help your partner feel like you are interested in them and, you will feel closer to your partner knowing what their goals and dreams for the future are.

  5. Do small acts of kindness for your partner. Again easier said than done when you have been arguing but this will help you change the mood in your relationship and help you both refocus on what's important, the connection you have with each other.

  6. Think positive thoughts about your partner. This one seems easy but is extremely hard when you have been arguing. It is easy to get into set patterns where all you see is the negative and your partner quickly becomes your enemy. When you notice that starting to happen, write down three positive things about your partner and repeat them to yourself throughout the day. You will be surprised how quickly this might change your attitude toward your partner and the argument you were in.

  7. Don't engage in the, “four horsemen.” John Gottman, a couples researcher out of the University of Washington, names the four horsemen of relationships as; criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. If you find yourself engaging in these activities ask yourself what your goal is and what it is you want your partner to understand. Chances are if you are caught in those four activities your partner will be to and your relationship will continue to spiral downward if you don’t take time to figure out what is going on.  

Using these tips daily will help strengthen your relationship and the connection you have with your partner. There is no better feeling than to feel loved and supported by another.