MAINTAINING RELATIONSHIP QUALITY

Relationship Quality

 

 

 

 

 

“Quality is never achieved by dropping standards…”

If you don’t have the ability to interact with, entice and compel your partner to invest herself with your time, presence and service (what you bring to the table), you’re not in the business of maintaining the quality of that relationship. You’re simply running on borrowed time and built up relationship equity to pay the emotional bills, for your relational insolvency (liabilities that exceed your value). Partnerships at their core are about mutual exchange of value to advance individual interest. If we become complacent, negligent, or destructive about maintaining value or care regarding our partners interests, we should take full accountability for the initiation of that relationship’s deterioration. As a strategic matter people should learn to avoid those people who are unwilling or incapable of providing for our needs prior to a relationship and that goes as well for relationship once they are already initiated. If your needs are not being met, seek to resolve those internally, but be prepared to walk away.

Frame control

Frame or the underlying structural support that makes up a physical composition of a subject, in this case a relationship, was negotiated and accepted early, even long prior to any formal commitment or recognition thereof a relationship. In particular, you being a man, having the social expectation to lead, to be its steward and to have it molded by you. When men relinquish control of the relationship frame devastation occurs. Nowhere is this better reflected and recorded than when viewing divorce statistics… over half of all marriages fail, with women doing 70% of the filings, the primary reason for which was ‘a lack of martial satisfaction’… They simply were ‘unhappy’. This begs an important series of questions; if they were unhappy, who’s responsibility were they expecting to fulfill their needs of satisfaction? Obviously their partner, from whom they are divorcing, but what lead to this? While there will be a myriad of individual responses, a disproportionate number of them will center around the man abdicating his masculine role and responsibilities within the relationship. Because of this we should rid ourselves of any preconception that women want, need, care to share or should have control of the relationship frame if we want our relationships and families survive and thrive. Sorry ladies, your actions speak louder than your words…

Attraction isn’t negotiable

Repeated social studies have demonstrated and reaffirmed the common observation of the consistent erotic appeal of male dominance as sexual cues of attraction and desire for women, whether those are the hypergamous triggers of physical being, social behaviors or status display cues of dominance or ‘alpha’ traits. Please keep in mind that these base traits of desire do not diminish over time. In fact they are terribly consistent. At a woman’s base biological need is a desire to be with an unapologetic masculine male- a Man. Social dominance plays such an important role in feminine attraction that manipulating this single variable socially has repeatedly shown and proven dramatic improvements in a man’s sexual market value- the degree to which he is sexually valued by women. This social dominance begins and ends with a man’s perceived self-worth and is nowhere more clearly reflected in action than by his command of the word ‘No!’. A man of worth has standards and his behaviors and actions reflect those, especially in the face of perceived opposition. It is human nature to value that which is earned, which makes giving women a pass, is a sure way to sell yourself short and display low value. Beyond that it is bad practice as it is a form of rewarding bad behavior, and that which we subsidize we get more of, much to many a men’s ultimate regret.

Branding

It’s the job of the seller to sell the value of a product or service by making a connection with their customer base and extolling the virtues of it… This is called branding. In many ways it’s simply identifying the qualities or characteristics that make you distinctive from your competitors and then hammering those in a visible way. One of the things that attracts people to a certain brand is the power of presence they project known as the halo-effect, which is identified by the strength of the initial idealization, as the greater the initial idealization the greater the reports of satisfaction over the following year. This held true for products, services and amazingly enough relationships too! Another way of looking at this is that people we interact with tell themselves a story of who they perceive us to be. We feed that story by making a series of statements by our presence, actions and words that tell people who we are and what they can expect from us. These studies in short tell us that it is far better to be the Lone Ranger, than it is to be the actor who portrays him. Your story needs to be robust enough to attract their attention and keep it. You need to be prepared to live that story out loud (by actions, as it build credibility), because soft-spoken stories rarely give rise to rapt audiences.

Meeting their emotional needs

The leading indicator for relationship quality is best measured by the degree of relational satisfaction- the degree to which our needs, desires and appetite are being fulfilled within the relationship. When we meet our partner’s needs, it creates the greatest degree of happiness, acceptance and validation in turn, which is emotionally transferred into the context of what we describe as love. Unfortunately not all needs are created equally, nor equally valued by each individual, which make it particularly important to respond to our partner’s needs if we want satisfaction to remain high. Your job is to find out what those are, to what degree are they valued and how to best meet or achieve those. Affection and intimacy are two critical emotional needs that are often seen as the cement of a relationship. With it we’re bonded to each other, without it we are totally alienated by its absence. This is where the value of rituals comes into play. By having consciously established patterns of behaviors focused on intimacy and affection helps safeguards the relationship because they are simply lost in hard times when we need them the most.

Positivity as an essential

One of the most important characteristics of relationship satisfaction is the ability of couples to accentuate the positive in life more than those that choose to revel in the negatives of life. While shit happens to everyone, we command the choice to be miserable or not. It should come as no surprise then that miserable people have miserable relationships…which usually end miserably. The point here is that it pays handsome dividends to have a healthy masculine male leadership who is able to sort out emotional trivialities, to define interpret what is important, by taking issues into perspective, accepting accountability for one’s emotional state and being emotionally secure in the face of adversity (especially her disapproval) to cease negativity where it serves no positive function within the relationship (all these are renown masculine traits not feminine). Simply put that may mean calling your partner out on her negativity and setting the relationship cultural tone for promoting positivity over adversity. Please bear in mind the law of emotional contagion (the unconscious tendency to mimic the emotions of others) that the strongest frame will win out.

Nature of commitment

An inherent feature to relationship satisfaction is powerfully linked to the qualitative nature of commitment. The degree to which our partners identify with and actively reduce our cautionary reactions to fears and insecurity regarding our vulnerabilities of relationship future projection, actively mitigates the degree of distrust we feel based on those natural occurring anxieties. Until we can alleviate our partner’s predominant concerns for self-protection, emotional safety and security they will be reluctant to develop a deep and abiding faith in us or our relationship with them. We need to recognize the importance of promoting trust by clarifying our intentions, validating our partners and highlighting the value we hold of our relationship, through regular assurances which are reinforced by gestures and behavior as demonstrations of commitment and loyalty.

Engaging Social Networks

As social creatures we have a deep need for social approval and acceptance. It is not surprising then to know that studies on depression have routinely placed positive social events on par with the effects gained through medication to remediate the state of low personal mood associated with sadness, emptiness, worthlessness and hurt. In fact, many doctors will actually prescribe social events with friends, family and loved-ones as a course of action to take to limit or reduce the effects of depression. As such social events make incredible tools for improving the quality of relationships. Integrating our relationship within greater social circles has the effect of expanding the degree of affirmation, validation and support we receive, which greatly offsets life’s challenges. Care must be taken though, when our social circles come into conflict with our relationships, because they can be as detrimental as positive. Boundaries in these cases need to be clearly articulated socially, if not physically, depending upon the nature and intensity of the conflicts, as history and literature are replete with examples where relationships are made or broken by the acceptance of a given pair in a social construct.

 

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RELATIONSHIP MAINTENANCE-STABILITY

Relationship Stability

“A stable ship can sail unstable seas…”

The Stability and Longevity Relationship

Longevity has always been synonymous with equaling success and a direct ramification of longevity is stability. If we want our relationships to last, they need a strong stable base from which to spring from. That means planning and constructing an environment meant for stability and thus longevity by design. As men, it is our gender expectation to take the leadership role with guiding, managing and fostering the relationships we desire and enter into. A critical component to this is initiating the cultural baseline within the relationship that influences those elements that contribute to a stable and healthy relationship to begin with and to make sure it stays that way (the maintenance part). In each case, we can discern a series of interaction patterns within both healthy and successful relationships, as well as un-healthy and failing relationships, where a mindfulness or lack thereof plays a critical role in determining the stability of those relationships. If you are not working toward relationship stability, you’re not working toward relationship longevity, plain and simple.

The Power of Positivity

It should come as no surprise, except for the severely dysfunctional, that thriving couples (happy and healthy) accentuate the positive in life more so than those that live in languishing relationships (unhealthy and co-dependent). We have seen before that emotions act as powerful contagions and we should be wary of accepting poor attitudes, dark emotions and negative outlooks, which are highly contagious and insulate ourselves by behavior and action from this outcome prior to it becoming a rapid adverse selection spiral from which we cannot escape. Doing so is a form of emotional boundary setting. While we can come to experience such feelings, we should not dwell there, nor permit those feelings and emotions to take root with ourselves or with our partners. Likewise we need to be vigilant and guard against negative messaging behavior, such as incessant criticism, sarcasm, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling (avoidance behavior) that is the antithesis of stability, which creates fertile ground for negative attributions , distancing behavior, re-casting relationship narratives and incentivizing solutions outside of the relationship to fulfill our needs and desires (such as extra-relational fucking around). In this regard, it will take a particular man to be able to face not only the demons in his life, those of his partner, but also to face and turn away the negative beliefs, attitudes, outlooks and behaviors his partner is exhibiting or fostering, without alienating her in the process (diplomacy anyone?). In this regard it pays handsomely to have a strong masculine frame within the relationship that is able to sort out emotional trivialities, to define and interpret what is important, by taking issues into perspective, by accepting accountability for one’s emotional state, and being emotionally secure in the face of adversity… we need to be emotionally supportive of our partners, but not emotionally immersed where negativity is at root and command, least we become consumed by it and our relationship drowned by it.

Value of Openness

Couples who stay together tend to exhibit high levels of operational maintenance in making sure that the relationship is open for both parties to express their wants, needs, objections and concerns freely and have worked in advance to make sure this is the relationship climate and experience. There’s always a certain amount of inertia that must initially be overcome to start difficult communication let alone begin a conversation after a history of pent-up frustrations, fears and anxiety that have already been established, let alone in conditions where real damage has previously been sustained and our partners are nurturing grievances. In all cases we lead by example and as such we need to be open and receptive to receiving feedback and actively soliciting it from our partners, prior to our expecting them to do so. We need to have already shown and exhibited a forum and willingness to talk about issues of the day, the operations of our relationships and personal frictions long prior to when we actually have an issue to overcome. In doing so, we need to express and exemplify cooperative and optimistic behavior in our approach and dealings with problems as they arise… note the term ‘as they arise’, avoiding communicating frictions and troubling issues doesn’t just save them for another day, it is a form of management neglect that is far from benign, but quite cancerous. It formulates a situation where the issue will not be addressed until it reaches the conflict or crisis point, at which damage is already being done to the relationship. This is where having weekly one on one meetings directly with your partner to gauge their temperature, reading of their emotional state, what their emotional reserve is and the overall state of their morale, provides a natural and reoccurring opening for just such dialog between the two of you. We should be aware of what internal and external factors are driving the emotional status of the relationship and to make relational tune-ups as necessary to mitigate unnecessary wear and tear on each other and the relationship.

Importance of Reassurance and Providing Emotional Sanctuary

Anxiety is typically associated with turmoil and concerns governing future projections of fear, stress, worrying and often accompanied by an overreaction and sensitivity to a given situation. If your partner is in doubt about the nature and your future together, fully expect a high degree and measure of relationship anxiety and behavior as a consequence… By clearly communicating our intentions, our thoughts, beliefs and feelings about our partner and relationship we can clear the anxiety laden air of doubt and insecurity. Saying “you are my team”, “You are my girl”, “I am in this with you”, “I’m in”, “you are my safe place” are all very clear indicators to soliciting trust, reducing distrust and an investment of hope within your relationship, while providing a measure of emotional security that asserts that she is an essential asset and part of your life and future she has a place with you. Likewise we need to provide accurate, timely and specific recognition of those elements in which our partner is contributing to the relationship. This form of recognition, validation and acceptance is commonly seen in the form of a sincere and genuine compliment and praise, which has the effect of helping to raise your partner’s self-esteem and promote more of the same. People naturally want to know that their presence, contributions and efforts are appreciated and valued. Denying that is both foolish and ill-advised. Displaying and expressing that thankfulness, not as a reward, but as a form of showing gratitude and appreciation, is the primary means for creating a positive relationship internally. As the leader of the relationship, it is your responsibility to formulate the relationship culture of appreciation, acceptance and love… by looking for and accentuating those healthy traits we are promoting them in our partner, in our relationship and ultimately within ourselves.

 

Managing Conflict

AngryCouple

“Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional”

The Nature of Relationship Conflict

Real conflicts in relationships are more than just elements associated with let downs, frustrations, incivility or broached boundaries. They’re deeper and more powerful than arguments and disagreements would at first appear. Relationship conflicts are situations where you or your partner perceive an emotional menace, whether that menace is real or imagined. What’s worse is that they tend to repeat and don’t go away from one relationship to another—that is, these menaces will travel with you into your next relationship and with a new partner. These are highly visceral reactions to situations that rationality will not clear away unless the phantoms that are driving this behavior are identified and addressed. It is important to realize that conflicts more central to issues of attachment and commitment will evoke not only a greater threat response from you or your partner, but are more likely to be the structural fault within your relationship and will be a leading candidate for that relationship failure. That is, unresolved emotional issues have a markedly disproportional negative effect on the health and viability of your relationships and as leaders and managers of our relationships we have a responsibility to lead and manage these.

The Nature of Conflict Avoidance

Much like the real issues driving emotional conflicts, conflict avoidance hides several significant motivators to avoid conflict interactions and serves as a good analogy to the hidden emotional issues behind conflicts. Most people can relate to a very basic element of conflict avoidance just because of the very nature of conflict itself; that it is absorbing, energy-consuming and honestly we want to believe that we have better things to do… but is that truly why we avoid conflict, or are there other issues that are really motivating us from venturing there? Would it be more true to recognize that we may be lacking conflict skills and have had a history of poor utilization of those skills and almost no recognizable ability to manage conflict in a healthy and productive way? Are we too afraid, feel too vulnerable or unsure how to bring to the light of day deeply guarded emotional issues with our partner? Are we honestly too insecure about the nature and true character of our relationship to test it in the crucible of conflict and are afraid to find out the reality of where it stands? Understanding these and any other motivator you may have to avoid conflict will be the first step you take to managing conflict within any relationship.

A Lack of Social Fluency

As children we go through the process of learning and developing a large number of social skills facilitating our interactions with others. One of the most important, but seldom taught or developed is conflict skills. And like all skills, unless as adults we continue to develop, nurture and hone our abilities, we’re slaves to the maturity skill level of our abilities of when we initially learned them, regardless of our actual age. It’s why you’ll see fully grown adults resorting to acting like children, because they honestly have no real ability to do otherwise. Their skill set is limited to that of a child’s. On a fundamental level the ability to hold constructive and healthy conflict sessions is a mark of maturity and one relegated to a fully developed adult. Children need to be taught the critical skills of collaborating with others, restraining anger escalation, rejecting shutting down and emotional withdrawal as a viable conflict management strategy and avoiding or changing destructive behavioral patterns of aggression, to resolve or manage conflict. If as an adult you have not developed those, have positive experience utilizing them and have confidence in your ability to enact these abilities, it’s time you sat down with your inner-child and have a heart-to-heart about developing them.

Emotional Gateway

In an emotional conflict people rarely convey the needs at the heart of the problem; the words being said isn’t what your partner is trying to communicate, the issue being addressed, isn’t really the true issue, as there is often a bigger issue behind a closed emotional door, that contains a very large emotional elephant. If we really listen to our partners, not only in what they are saying to us, but in the patterns of behaviors that bring us back to this same very place, time after time, we may come to realize that they are in fact bringing us to an emotional gateway. We ourselves may not even be aware of how deeply a particular issue from our past affected us, until a situation involving conflict has occurred to uncover it. Partners that don’t trust themselves, have the ability or established an operating pattern and history to discuss pertinent, at-risk issues appropriately will often utilize inappropriate methods to advance an issue into the forefront. They will start a minor conflict to segway the discussion into a larger and more important issue, that they feel inadequate discussing, often called a lead-in. A partner who fears holding a particular discussion due to fears of evoking abandonment issues, relationship flight (you leaving her) or heightened emotional insecurities, may in fact deny the presence of hidden issues, even when directly asked (she may not actually be even aware of it herself). We should be cognizant of this possibility and book mark emotional conflicts, so that if we keep returning to them, we can realize that there truly is something else there, even if our partner is unwilling to openly address it, or the fact we can’t see it. In such a case, finding and knocking on these emotional doors may not be enough. Our partners may continue to deny their existence. In such cases, it is not our responsibility to open those doors, it is our partner’s. If they choose to keep them shut and us out, we can only identify that we were aware, willing and offering a safe environment for them to share with us, but they are ultimately accountable for not doing so. Regrettably these issues tend to be the leading cause for relationship failures, known or otherwise and that is of their making, not ours.

The Crucible- a Test of Character

Emotional conflicts within relationships test the character of the relationship itself and can tell us as much about the relationship, as it does the individuals within the conflict. Just as we can deduce an individual’s social fluency by observing their social skill mastery, we can evaluate a relationship’s strength, health and vibrancy by observing how conflict is handled, regarded and managed within the relationship. Is the conflict not only addressed in a manner which seeks resolution by both partners, but do the partners separate the individual from the issue with tact and respect and do the partners utilize the source of conflict for greater understanding and comprehension of their partner? When done so, conflict can be a tremendous opportunity to lead to deeper respect, trust and intimacy. Conflict tests relationships and individuals more rigorously than other forms of interactions and can be very frightening because of it, but by developing our and our partner’s ability to handle, manage and constructively resolve conflict can we gain honest confidence in our relationship’s true strength and character, by having navigated through it.

Conflict Cost

We must learn to manage conflict because the risks involved in not doing so are very real and very, very costly. Appropriate conflict management prevents physical and psychological aggression within intimate relationships. We are vastly less likely to lash out with physical violence, in releasing engulfed rage and anger that has built up rapidly within a spiraling and unrestrained conflict setting. We are less likely to be physically domineering and physically aggressive, in an attempt to control or manage a situation where our skill sets have failed us. We are less likely to commit emotional and psychological harm in delivering vicious and insidious personal verbal attacks in moments of lost self-regulation. We are less likely to lose relationships that we have invested heavily in emotionally, physically, sexually, socially and financially. Beyond the total sum cost of any failed relationship, the cost of not developing conflict management skills is that this lack of ability will likely be handed down from Father to child. Parents that manage conflict appropriately are less likely to neglect or abuse their children and are more than likely to pass those positive behavior skill sets down to their children. The same hand that guides the Mother will be the same hand that guides his children.

The Power of Perception

“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend”

Being socially competent in a relationship means recognizing that other people have emotions, desires, thoughts and beliefs, being able to properly interpret the other person’s inner state based on a multitude of observable behaviors that include body language, facial expressions, tonality, cadence of speech and word choices, while appropriately making behavioral decisions to nurture and support that relationship. The power of perception is a critical skill to develop for reading the wealth of information that is generated and communicated through body language within social interactions. This is incredibly true with intimate personal relationships, yet a common phenomena takes place; as we are exposed to greater and greater levels of shared information, personal narratives, thoughts, beliefs, dreams, fears and aspirations of our partner, we naturally tend to be less observant to the subtle social cues that we are highly vigilant of when we knew the person less. Countering this natural tendency, and actively being perceptive of our partners is an important relationship skill to develop, as it aids in communication and increases relationship bonding by validating your partner emotionally.

The power of emotional validation…

Women consistently state in social studies of being more satisfied in a relationship when their partner was attempting to be emotionally sensitive, demonstrate empathy skills, along with active listening traits to understand them and accurately judged their emotions (this is a form of preemptive emotional needs communication) . Consequently it is the second greatest factor in determining relationship longevity, the first being having an upbeat and positive attitude. (Depressed and negative partners are more than a drag, they are emotionally toxic and a direct threat to the health, wellbeing and effectiveness of the relationship. Militaries the world over recognize this and openly promote and manage morale welfare. It wouldn’t be foolish to develop a similar posture in our relationships.) What is of particular interest in these studies is that women also value the effort men make, almost as much as the outcome of the conversation. Women essentially value the emotional support given to them by their partner over any other base trait other than raw sexual attraction and security. By actively taking a leadership role and consciously monitoring our partners, being sensitive to their emotional shifts, employing active listening skills and providing simple emotional validation of our partners on a regular basis can we hugely affect the health and wellbeing of our relationships for the positive.

Poker face…

In poker, a “tell’ is a detectable change in a player’s behavior or demeanor that gives clues to that player’s assessment of their given hand. More accurately it is a change in a person’s behavior that gives clues to their emotional state or awareness. We all have them as we all have detectable changes in behavior based on our state of mind and the situation around us. This will be true of our partners as well. There is simply no substitute for practice when we are looking to spot our partners tells and thus being more aware of the emotional state, desires, drives and prejudices of our partners. A partner’s tell is obvious signal at a need for communication if we learn to look for them.

Letting light in…

Sometimes we just don’t know what the signals we see are or represent. There may be conflicting verbal statements with a myriad of body language displays that do not point directly to any one emotion or unknown issue or are out of sync and conflict with one another. The simplest way to clear up any confusion is to simply ask; ‘ Hey, babe, is everything ok, you seem upset by something?’ This simple act of opening up communication based on observable behavior may all that they are looking for or needing to get dialog flowing and coming to grips with whatever is occupying them. Other times our partners will state that they are ‘fine’ when in fact they are not. Usually this is because they have not resolved their feeling prior to engaging in communication or are resistant to bring it up for fear of any number of reasons. By asking a question, we open ourselves up to the possibility of a deflected response or a denial of an underlying issue. It is far better to take the emotional risk and demonstrate leadership traits by making a statement regarding your observation; ‘Babe, you’re walking around like an angry cat, tell me what’s going on.’ By being perceptive and actively being receptive to unclogging the lines of communication we can help do our part in getting information, understanding and connectedness to our partners to flow.

Unchecked dependency needs…

Being a competent and sensitive social partner does not mean soliciting continuous requests for verification from your partner, as to their emotional status. Monitoring your partner is not a relationship form of the Verizon phone commercial where you ask your partner over and over again “Can you hear me now?” We are looking for changes of behavior, flash signals and behavioral keys that are social signals that there is something troubling our partner, to develop and utilize the skill of perception within a relationship to trigger needed communication or connection with our partner.

When there isn’t a problem, but a desire…

Being stressed in a rushed world or otherwise preoccupied with the daily grind, it is terrifyingly easy to neglect a relationship, to take our partner for granted, to not be available, to miss signs that our partners emotionally want and need to feel more connected with us. Frequently our partners will have tells not only for what is bothering them, but for when they desire closeness and connection with us. These are effectively ‘bids’ for your attention, as they are in many ways competing for it from everything else that has your attention over them. As was stated earlier, happiness measured in a relationship is directly correlated to the number and degree of bids offered and accepted between a couple… in correlation to that rebuffed or ignored bids are a form of rejection, and it too is directly correlated to the degree of unhappiness and in-validation a partner feels within a relationship. Stop paying attention to your partner and it’s game over… We cannot afford to become complacent within our relationships as hypergamy doesn’t sleep. It is always at work and play. The question becomes then, do you see your partner? Do you take the time to notice them? Being perceptive of your partners tells them that you do and is the starting point for many essential relationship discussions.

Providing Validation

Providing validation image

Love is validated in the memories of the past…

 

“I see, I hear, I get”

Emotions heal and anger is soothed when they are heard and validated. So too are the people and the relationship they’re in. Validating is about “not only do I hear what you’re saying, but I get it, I get you.” You are in essence saying to your partner “I see you, I hear you and you and our relationship together have meaning to me.”

Beware the extremes

Communication is an emotional event, especially when emotional needs or personal boundaries are at stake. It is at these times that relationships can come to an inflection point in value and how they are perceived by our partners. While at these points are polar extremes, validating our partner on a regular and continuous basis is at the heart of any intimate relationship.

Even when we disagree

Even when we disagree, validation provides a way for us to communicate the common ground between us. Providing emotional validation shows the speaker that we’re not only accept them, but they are safe and secure in expressing themselves and their thoughts and ideas free of ridicule or disdain.

It’s about leadership

As a man we’re culturally taught not only to provide but to also protect, typically from an external threat, but what happens when the threat and injuries are internal, that originates from within the relationship and by us? When our actions indicate blaming, judging, denying and minimizing our partner’s emotions, we are invalidating not only their emotions, but them as well. These actions leave psychic and emotional wounds which leave our partners feeling rejected, ignored or judged. What does it say about a man’s leadership ability when he makes his partner feel this way on a continuous basis? Should he be surprised when she seeks out comfort, security and acceptance from another man in the casual sex quadrant of life? Do you really think it will stay casual for long? Are we not aware of hypergamy by now?

Relationship cancer

Invalidation disrupts relationships, creates emotional distance and alienation with our partners. It is a drain on the emotional bank account we have established, and one that typically fuels a relationship’s demise. Combine invalidation with a negative feedback loop and the relationship is in a certain death spiral.

‘Knowledge-Doing’ gap

While this knowledge is mostly likely very common, what isn’t is acting on the actual behavior traits of validating our partners on a continual basis. It’s what’s known as the ‘Knowledge-Doing’ gap. We may know something, but there is a big gap in habitual behaviors which are destructive to our relationships.

When listening is an investment

Most people stop listening when they think they already know what the other person is going to say. Other times they stop listening when they’ve gotten the information they wanted, but that’s not why your partner is talking to you… Active listening is when you’re able to accurately repeat in your own words what it is that your partner is conveying or trying to. If you’re not sure, you ask clarifying questions to seek their intent. Validating goes beyond active listening and combines developing empathy and emotional support skills in recognizing that your time, energy and focus attention sends the very real message that your partner is important to you, and what they are saying is important to you, as a consequence. When you listen to build and reinforce a relationship, you’re investing in the relationship and your partner. That’s the validation we’re talking about.

Striking a balance

However there’s a balance to be struck between empowerment the ability to change your state of being, including your feelings and behavior and emotional validation. Men tend to focus on too much empowerment and women tend to stay in emotional validation too long, which inhibits progress in both cases. If you don’t validate sufficiently, your partner will resist your efforts at assistance. If you validate too much, your partner will begin to identify with their issue or symptom (victimhood mentality). Emotional validation without empowerment is ineffectual pity and empowerment without emotional validation leaves your partner feeling that you don’t get them.