California Therapist Blog

Emotional health, relationship and therapy-related articles by Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT.

4 Ways to Improve Relationship Strain

During these many months of the pandemic relationships have taken a hit too.  We aren’t always the best versions of ourselves when under duress.  If your marriage or relationship has been in trouble, there are some things you can do to begin to change the tide.

4 Ways to Improve Relationship Strain 

  1. Get real about your communication style.  Now more than ever it’s important to speak to your partner with kindness and sensitivity.  When under stress, it’s normal for people to revert to unhealthy communication patterns like avoidance, reactivity and defensiveness.  Practice fully hearing the other and taking a breath before responding.
  2. Fully own it.  Take responsibility for your actions and validating the emotional implications for your partner.   If you’ve been unkind, rude or minimizing of the other’s feelings for example, say it aloud and apologize.  It’s often far easier to cast stones than to hold up a mirror up to ourselves and admit our errors.  Be aware of your own emotional world and whether it’s impacting the dynamic.  Be honest with yourself if you tend to sweep things under the carpet yet they come roaring out later.
  3. Understand it.  After taking an honest look at yourself and any unhelpful behaviors, seek to know why they happen.  Often when we “act out,” it’s a cover for deeper wounds or vulnerabilities from the past.  The more clarity you get out of the impact of your own life experiences, the better equipped you’ll be to change problematic patterns.  If this is unclear, individual therapy can help.    
  4. Give yourself a break.  This is a tough time for many people and their relationships.  It would be natural for there to be relationship impact stemming from other emotional or life challenges.  As long as you stay aware of your intention to make positive changes and be your best within that, you are doing as well as can be expected.  Hang in there.

In many cases people have put off dealing with relationship challenges as they manage more pressing and perhaps crisis oriented problems.  Many of the issues I’ve seen in my couples counseling practice are related to just that; couples not feeling prioritized by each other and disconnection.

> Learn more about my California Online Therapy and Counseling services for San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, San Mateo, Santa Barbara and everywhere in between.

> If you’re out of state, check out the Psychology Today Therapist Directory to find a therapist in your area.

> If you have a specific relationship question and you would like an educational consultation only, see my Relatiionship Health Consultation service on my other site,

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