The state of our lives and our relationships are the result of our seemingly small everyday choices. If for some reason we are unhappy with our relationship or our life, the best place to begin is to consider the choices that we have been making. William James said, “Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.” It doesn't matter where we start, changing our attitude will result in different choices and changing our choices will begin to change our attitude.
There are some important choices that we can make that will greatly improve the quality of our relationship. It is very empowering to let go of blaming our partner for the problems in the relationship and to initiate change by consciously choosing our behavior.
Choose to be responsible for your own feelings and needs
This may be the most important and difficult choice that we can make if we want to improve our relationship. This means giving up blaming your partner for your unhappiness. It means learning to self-sooth and identify and express your needs. It means learning to feel okay within yourself regardless of your partner's behavior, mood or attitude. It means becoming less reactive and more proactive in your relationship.
Choose to turn toward your partner rather than away
This means choosing to stay connected and doing little things each day to build that connection. Make spending time as a couple a priority. Look at each other, talk with each other and touch non-sexually everyday.
Choose to focus on what you admire about your partner
Focusing on what you admire about your partner will increase your fondness for them. Choosing to focus on what annoys you about your partner will have the opposite affect.
Choose to be curious rather than defensive
If when your partner disagrees with you, you take a curious rather than a defensive stance, you will help them to feel heard and understood. And who knows, maybe you will find a new perspective you had not considered. Also they will be much more likely to listen to you.
Choose to face and resolve conflict
This means learning to tolerate uncomfortable emotions. It means sharing your thoughts and feelings with each other. And it mean recognizing that facing problems in healthy ways, reduces rather than increases conflict.
Choose to be kind and respectful to your partner
Great harm is done to your relationships if you lower yourselves to the level of being mean and spiteful toward your partner. This means refusing to fight dirty. It means choosing to watch your tongue, especially when you are hurt or angry.
Choose to express gratitude
Expressing gratitude enlarges the heart of both the giver and receiver. Gratitude is an antidote for most of the negative thoughts and emotions that will eat away at your relationship satisfaction.
Choose to behave lovingly, especially when you least feel like it
This requires you to exercise your self-discipline muscles. It means recognizing that even when you are upset with your partner, you do not have to withhold love from them. It means letting go of the need to punish each other for actual or perceived slights.
The choices that you make in your relationship will either strengthen or weaken it. You have the ability to improve the quality of your relationship simply by improving the quality of your choices.