Should you come to see me for couples counseling, these are the 16 essential skills upon which we will focus. After working with more than 500 couples during the past 15 years, I conclude that, from my vantage point, these are the 16 most critical ways by which the partners contribute to making their relationship healthy and vibrant.
One of the first exercises we'll do together is go through this list, one skill at a time, and see how you're doing. With nearly every couple I see, it is typically a mix of their doing some of these well, and others "not so well." We'll seek to have you emphasize your strengths and at the same find ways to improve those areas where you don't function as you should.
The 16 Essentials of a Healthy Couple Relationship
I am radically honest with my partner.
I dedicate myself to spending at least 15 hours each week giving my partner my undivided attention. This includes affection, conversation, sexual fulfillment, and recreational companionship.
I constantly listen deeply to my partner.
I do not make independent decisions on any matters that affect our relationship.
I allow myself to be influenced by my partner, trusting that he or she has my best interests at heart.
I do not attempt to either control my partner or tell him or her what to do.
I commit to being “all in” in terms of our relationship.
I work to meet my partner’s love language needs. (See my website for an explanation of the five love languages – under “Assessments, Questionnaires, and Readings.”)
I am clear and direct in expressing to my partner my anger and hurts.
I am not sarcastic toward my partner.
I hang in there when my partner sticks up for himself or herself.
I regularly express deep appreciation and gratitude to my partner for the many good things he or she does.
I work with my partner to co-create a vision for our future.
I take good care of myself physically and emotionally so that I can really be there for my partner.
I use alcohol (or other substances such as marijuana) sparingly or not at all, knowing that alcohol and drugs impair my ability to function in a committed relationship.
I take full responsibility for myself, knowing that, most times in life, “I get what I behave for.”