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Relationships are messy + delicious. Learn about how Robyn D'Angelo, The Happy Couple Expert uses science to effectively help couples in Orange County, California to master the messiness of relationships while learning how to love + be loved, better.

The Blog

Filtering by Tag: room for improvement

How Complaining, Nagging and Pouting Can Help Your Relationship.

Emily Porta

You may be thinking, “How can my partner’s complaining possibly help our relationship?” Well, there’s a lot of research that shows that complaints can actually lead to some pretty awesome connection.

Complaining is one’s way of trying to express a need of theirs that is not being met, according to Dr. John Gottman & Julie Schwartz Gottman, who’ve studied couples and their relationships for over 40 years. If you see your partner’s complaints, nagging and pouting as their struggle to communicate something to you, doing just 3 things can decrease your annoyance, frustration and anger while bringing you closer.

1. Maintain Mutual Respect.

Avoiding what Dr. Gottman refers to as the 4 Horseman of the Apocalypse helps cultivate respect between you and your partner. The 4 Horseman of the Apocalypse consists of criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling or ignoring our partners. If you can avoid doing these when your partner complains, your relationship will start to increase in closeness and conflict will not feel so heavy.

2. Check in.

Sometimes just taking a deep breath to pause and ask your partner “What’s really going on right now? Are my socks on the bathroom floor really what’s bothering you?” Your empathic checking in, provides a fantastic opportunity for the two of you to lovingly come together and discuss your partner’s true unmet need. (Which may be more like “I feel that my hard work to keep the bathroom clean goes unappreciated when socks are left on the floor.”)

3. Offer Support.

In every instance of conflict or potential conflict (i.e. complaining, nagging or pouting) there’s an opportunity to step outside your urge to get defensive, contemptuous, criticize or plain ignore your partner. In order to do this, gently and lovingly ask “What do you need right now?” This is different from “What can I do? Or How can I fix things?” When offering your partner this support, it creates an environment of emotional safety where they can start to open up and talk about their unmet need that lives just beneath their complaint. This simple question also releases you of the pressure to fix things. Win-Win!

Experiencing this is never enjoyable but it can definitely provide a moment for the two of you to deeply connect and address what’s truly going on so that you and your partner feel heard and understood.

The 3 steps are simple but they are not easy. This kind of behavior takes commitment to practicing and being gentle with yourself (and your partner) when it doesn’t always go as you expected.

Looking for one-on-one help? Call me today and let’s talk about how I can help you and your partner start connecting deeper and enjoying each other more. (714) 390-1652 or email me to set up an appointment. 

Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Relationships Now!

Emily Porta

Can you really surmise improving relationships in 10 bullet points? Well, I think this is a great starting point. You will note the title isn't top things the other person can do to make your relationship better. Nope, change starts with you. This is the hard part, the piece that we often cringe at facing. What is your responsibility? 

You can't control the actions of others. You can't predict the behaviors of others. That leaves you with you. Only you can make changes. They will inevitably impact the other person and from that you can decide what you want to do in the relationship. You actually are only responsible for you - owning your feelings, thoughts and behaviors.

So, if you would like my Top 10 list, then join my newsletter here. I also include other fun tidbits on a monthly basis of ways to help transform your life.

Positively Difficult

Emily Porta

One of the questions I ask of others is what they love about themselves as people, their character or their essence. Ask yourself this right now. Come up with a list of things that make you wonderful and unique. 

Was it difficult? How long did it take for you to go off on a tangent about how you are almost a good parent BUT you wish you could do X better? Or did you think of something and then hesitated because you don’t want to seem too prideful or because you can find a few exceptions?

It is a challenge for many to truly embrace their goodness. Even for me! - shock However cliche it may sound, if you don’t know and love yourself fully, how can you expect others to do the same. When we have a negative view of ourselves we looks everywhere to confirm and uphold this view. What would happen if you looked for the evidence to confirm the positives? 

Investigate the good in yourself!