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Master or Disaster: What Kind of Relationship Are You In?

After taking a short break from blogging for two months, I'm excited to be back! I have decided to focus my practice more specifically to address parents of younger children. This means my blog posts will talk about children, parenting, you and your significant other, and strategies on how to improve these relationships. From here on, you can look forward to my blog posts the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month.

Today, I'll be addressing whether you and your partner are in a "master" or "disaster" relationship and how you can reassess and reprioritize your relationship, no matter where you currently stand.

Take a moment to ponder these questions:

  1. When is the last time we went on a date and what did we do?

  2. What was our last fight about and how did we resolve it?

  3. How satisfing is our sex life?

  4. How often do we agree or at least compromise?

"Master" couples may answer these questions with no hesitation, with cheerful spirits, and happy hearts. If you found that you were disappointed or angered by your answers, you might be headed down a path of disaster in your relationship. However, this does not mean all hope is lost. Every day is a new day to choose a different path and change the direction you're headed.

Dr. John Gottman, marriage and relationship expert, has studied many couples in his decades of research and believes "master" and "disaster" couples do things quite differently in their relationships. The most important thing to look out for is how you talk with your partner. The "Four Horsemen" of criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling are indicators that your interactions are going sour and on the brink of disaster. The "antidotes" that "master" couples use instead are complaining without blaming, taking responsibility, building a culture of appreciation, and physiological self-soothing. Shifting how you and your partner interact may take some work if you regularly have the horsemen stomping through your conversations, but it is possible to get out of this pattern and make a new habit through hard work and dedication.

Secondly, "master" couples are intentional about prioritizing their relationship by going on regular dates, keeping intimacy alive, and not allowing their children to be the center of their relationship. "Master" couples are friends first over anything else, even being parents. "Disaster" couples do not make the time to be with each other and be friends. They tend to put other roles and responsibilities above their relationship. Many times, this is a gradual change and remaining friends must be a daily effort to maintain the relationship.

Lastly, agreement is not necessarily an indication of being a "master" or "disaster" couple. It depends on what you agree upon. However, the way you and your partner can compromise when you disagree on something is a much more accurate indicator. Compromise does not mean one person wins and the other loses - it means you both understand there may be sacrifices but the end result is the best possible option.

No matter if you and your partner are in a "master" or "disaster" mode, you could still head either direction. Being a master requires hard work to maintain the relationship, but being a disaster is not necessarily a death sentence. Regardless, you have the power to make the choice of what kind of couple you want to be.

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