The following practices, developed from years as an LGBTQ therapist working with LGBTQ couples, may help you deepen your relationship. They may sound simple, but they have been proven to work.
Come up with ways to compliment your partner on a weekly basis. If they look good in those pants, tell them. Don’t keep it to yourself. It’s not a state secret.
Celebrate being wrong
Practice the words “I’m sorry” or “You are right” or “I was wrong”. If these are tough words for you then practice with something easy and work your way up to admitting big mistakes. These words act as superfood for your relationship.
When they are so irritating, look inside
When your partner is extremely irritating that’s a good time to look inside and listen to what is going on with you. Before you attack them for their annoying behavior ask yourself: Are you hungry? Anxious? Tired? Feeling especially vulnerable? Often it is about you, not them.
When you fight take a time out
When you are fighting you are not communicating so it’s very unlikely that the two of you will reach a resolution. Give each other permission to call a brief “time out” to give each of you some time alone to calm dawn by walking around the block, taking a bath, or listening to music. When you have relaxed the conversation will begin to resemble communication.
Before criticizing, try an “I statement”
Instead of yelling “You’re a jerk for doing that” consider expressing how their behavior makes you feel. Say “I feel … when you do …” The benefit of this kind of communication is that you are the expert on your feelings–no one can debate your feelings with you. (Here’s a blog post with more info about how to do that.)
Institute daily check-ins
Create a few relaxing minutes each day to sit down and check in with each other by taking turns to find out about each other’s day. During this time the focus is on listening to each other rather than responding to each other. One of you talks, the other listens, and then you reverse the process.
Feed the relationship
Take the time to honor and pamper your relationship. For some couples this means supporting the relationship with couples counseling before you feel you “have” to. It’s a real gift to give each this uninterrupted time. For other couples it may mean going for walks or lying together on the living room couch.
And most of all, take care of yourself
The best way to support your partner and develop a healthy relationship is to attend to your own emotional and physical needs. If you do that you well you will find it effortless to offer support to your partner.