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Relationship Skills
and Relationship Saboteurs
Presented by: Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes
Executive Director, AllCEUs

Counseling CEs for this topic can be earned at

~     Tips for Sweetening Your Relationship
~     Steps for Building Empathy
~     Tips for a Closer Relationship
~     Tips for Compromise
~     Tips for Getting Your Needs Met
~     Tips for Giving Emotional Support
~     Tips for Being More Thoughtful

Tips for Sweetening Your Relationship
~    Love is a combination of emotions and actions including talking, compassion and trust.
~    Rewrite your vows/promises
~    Have a re-commitment ceremony
~    Imagine what life would be like if your partner were gone
~    Communicate to your partner in his or her love language
~    Receiving gifts
~    Quality time
~    Words of affirmation
~    Acts of service (devotion)
~    And physical touch

~    Make an effort
~    Write down a list of things your partner could do that would make you feel loved/happy and exchange them.
~    Remember (or get Google to remind you) of birthdays, anniversaries, or just happy occasions and celebrate
~    Celebrate for no reason
~    If you have a disagreement, take a step back and try to see it from your partner’s point of view

~    Don’t let fear of being vulnerable or abandonment undermine you
~    Share hopes, dreams and fears.
~    If becoming vulnerable makes you also become critical and defensive, identify and work through the reasons
~¬†¬† ¬†Think back to hopes and dreams you shared when you were dating…make it happen
~    Remind you partner of the qualities you love about them.
Building Empathy
~    Empathy vs. sympathy
~    Put yourself in their shoes (with their experiences)
~    Identify 3 alternate reasons you partner may be feeling/acting the way he or she is
~    If your child was going through this situation, how would you feel?
~    Remember that what you would want and need is not necessarily what your partner wants and needs.
~    Allow yourself to listen as if your only job is to understand
~    Without preconceptions
~    Knowing that you know nothing
~    Free from trying to create consistency between your feeling/perceptions and your partner’s feelings and perceptions… for now just focus on understanding the unique experience of your partner.

~    Think of a difficult time that you experienced and answer all the questions
~    What was your perception of the occurrence?
~    What was troubling about this occurrence?
~    What were the emotions that you felt at the time of the occurrence?
~    What emotions are being expressed in this moment?
~    What do you need from you (which is often just to be empathetic)?
~    Start by taking time by yourself to practice using these skills on yourself… your ability to understand your own emotions will directly affect your ability to empathize with your partner.

~    When your partner is relaying a difficult experience, listen to be able to understand:
~    What was his/her perception of the occurrence?
~    What was troubling about this occurrence?
~    What were the emotions that he/she felt at the time of the occurrence?
~    What emotions are being expressed in this moment?
~    What does he/she need from you (which is often just to be empathetic)?
~    This can also be practiced in group or at home using media clips of people arguing.
Tips for a Closer Relationship
~    Use relationships to teach you how to be whole (and not require another person to complete you)
~    See (and accept) your partner for who he or she really is
~    Be willing to learn from each other
~    Be willing to compromise
~    Get comfortable being alone
~    Develop awareness of why you fight
~    Own who you are
~    Embrace ordinariness
~    Let go of expectations and embrace what is
~    Converse…Plan conversation starters

Tips for Compromise
~    Create a win/win
~    Compromise based on priorities
~    Compromise based on needs
~    Compromise between extroverts and introverts
~    Compromise between detail oriented and big picture people
~    Compromise between rationally focused vs. emotionally focused individuals
~    Compromise between structured vs. spontaneous people

Tips for Getting Your Needs Met
~¬†¬† ¬†Know what you need and define it in observable terms.¬† ‚ÄúI want to be happy,‚ÄĚ isn‚Äôt helpful.
~    Don’t expect mind reading
~    Assertively state and own your feelings wants and needs
~    Communicate in the person’s preferred learning style
~    Remember it is about balance.
~    Sometimes you have to meet your own needs

Giving Emotional Support
~    Not everyone is comfortable with feeling words.  Reflect their vocabulary.
~    Don’t assume you know why someone feels a certain way.
~    Emotional support can be shown through actions, not just words.
~¬†¬† ¬†Giving gifts— Emotional support cards
~¬†¬† ¬†Quality time ‚Äď Taking a break or celebrating
~    Words of affirmation
~¬†¬† ¬†Acts of service ‚Äď help lighten the load
~¬†¬† ¬†Physical touch‚Äď hug, backrub
Being More Thoughtful
~    Pay attention and ask what he or she likes (and dislikes)
~    Do things you don't want to do
~    Keep A running list of gift ideas
~    Write sweet notes/sms, or just a thank yous
~    Remember important dates
~    Truly listen to what your so has to say
~    Be there during tough times, even if you're busy
~    Start some personal rituals for the two of you: Daily, Weekly, Annual

~    Insecurity
~    Needing to control
~    Fear of intimacy
~    Needing to win
~    Pessimism
~    Needing to be center stage
~    Addictions
~    Martyrdom
~    Defensiveness
~    Breaking trust
~    Prior abandonment issues
~    Low Self-Esteem/ Fear of Rejection
~    Fear of failure/Conditions of worth
~    Emotionally unavailable partner
~    Projection/Transference
~    Global, internal negative attributions
Saboteur Sabotage
~    Abandonment issues
~    Identify why you fear abandonment from this partner
~    Use the challenging questions worksheet to explore your thoughts and feelings
~    Identify what would need to be different for you to not fear abandonment
~    Low Self Esteem
~    Complete the following sentence…I am a good person because…
~    Identify all of your strengths and weaknesses
~    Of the weaknesses, identify which ones will help you be more like the person you want to be.
Saboteur Sabotage
~    Fear of Failure/Conditions of worth
~    Many avoid relationships because they fear failure.
~    What does it mean if a relationship fails?
~    What can you learn?
~    What would you tell a child who felt this way?
~    Emotionally unavailable partner
~    Communicate your need for an emotional connection
~    Help him/her learn what being emotionally available looks like to you. (love languages)

Saboteur Sabotage
~    Projection/Transference
~    Identify who this person reminds you of and how you are trying to rewrite that story
~    Become fully aware of who this person is and force yourself to stop comparing them with others.
~    Global, Internal Negative Attributions
~    Examples
~    People always…/never…
~    I am…
~    Make the attribution more specific
~    Find exceptions to the statement
~    Avoid extreme words like all, always, never
~    Relationships are complicated.
~    Basic areas to focus include
~    Compassion/Emotional Support
~    Effort/Thoughtfulness
~    Compromise
~    Embracing what is good instead of focusing on what is wrong.
~    Awareness of relationship saboteurs can also prevent a great relationship from falling apart

Recommended Readings

~    Empathy Building Exercise
~    Improving Relationships: