Michele O'Mara

50 Ways to Keep Your Lover: # 41-42

Filed By Michele O'Mara | May 09, 2008 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: advice column, gay advice, lesbian, relationship, relationship advice, tips

In my book, Love Tips and Trips for Gay and Lesbian Relationships, I have identified 50 Ways to Keep Your Lover. My post last Friday offered strategies 39-40, this week I am sharing strategies 41-42. Look for more strategies next Friday!

41. Share Decision Making.

When you team up with a partner in life, every decision that you make now not only affects you, but your partner as well. Sharing decision-making is crucial if you are going to move forward in the same direction, together.

Sometimes sharing the decision making process includes deciding together who is going to make certain decisions for the couple or the family. For example, often times in a relationship, each partner has a different set of strengths and skills. If one partner is an artist and the other is an accountant, the partners may agree that the accountant in the relationship will take charge of making decisions around the investments that are made with the couple's financial resources. The artist, on the other hand, may be given full reign over the decoration of the house.

Sometimes both partners want to be involved in all decisions that affect the couple. The key to successful shared decision-making involves very intentional communication around the topic of who is going to be deciding what. Each partner to a relationship must feel at all times as though he or she is able to influence the direction of his or her own life and that the decisions that are being made are decisions to which he or she willingly consents.

42. View Conflicts as Opportunities.

When conflicts arise in your relationship, you have the choice to view them as threats or opportunities. When you view conflicts and issues as threats you are likely to respond defensively, and when you are in a defensive mode you think and react more like an animal.

Animals respond according to instinct, not logic or analytical thought. When you respond instinctively like an animal does, your skill set is limited to fight, flight, freeze, attack, submit or play dead. As you can see there is not a lot of flexibility in this set of coping responses.

When you view a conflict as an opportunity, you are responding from the highest functioning part of your brain that is able to reason, analyze, negotiate, and problem-solve--not just react. Every conflict you face in the context of your relationship holds golden information for you to grow. Conflict, tension, frustration, or discontent always precedes growth. Think about growing your muscles for example. You literally stress your muscles to the point of tearing them, and in the process of healing; the muscles grow stronger.

Though it is never good to stay in a chronic state of discontentment or frustration, it is very important to welcome the conflicts that do arise in your relationships as another opportunity to grow into the best version of yourself.

Michele O'Mara, LCSW

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Good advice. I really like #42.