Questions beginning with
'How' are a great way of generating practical
ideas and suggestions about what you are going
to do differently to improve the relationship.
For example, you might ask your partner:
"How should we divide the
"How would you like me to
help around the house?"
"How can we find more time to
"How can I help with the
"How can I help you get
on in your career?"
"How can I help lessen the
stress you are feeling?"
Another approach to thinking
about what you might do differently is to look
at what people who are really good at
relationships do. It takes energy and skills to
hold down a successful personal relationship
just as it takes energy and skills to hold down
a demanding job. In the world of work, there are
skill and competency frameworks to help people
acquire the knowledge and skills they need to
perform effectively and continually improve.
When people get together,
especially when they get together very young,
they have to learn these skills through trial
and error. You may get some advice--for example,
from your parents, friends or a priest--but
no-one tells you about the things that keep
couples together and those that cause couples to
Watch this short video with
tips about how to repair a relationship.
When you have kicked the
problem around for a while, you should decide on
a range of specific things that you are going to
do differently as a couple that you both agree
will make a real difference. In the world of
work and sport, people are encouraged to define
their performance improvement activities or
objectives to meet what are called SMART
criteria. Try this approach.
SMART stands for:
S-Specific. Committing to
help more with the chores is not specific.
Committing to doing the online ordering and
unpacking of the weekly groceries is specific.
M-Measurable. Saying you will
try to help more with the kids is tricky to
measure. Saying you will read to the kids every
night is easy to measure.
A-Achievable. Promising to
share all your thoughts and feelings with your
partner is unachievable. Promising to tell him
or her when you have had a difficult day at work
and are feeling stressed is achievable.
R-Relevant. Saying you will
give up your annual golfing weekend with your
friends is probably irrelevant. Committing to
going to the gym together on Sundays mornings is
T-Time-bound. Committing to
trying to find more time to be together is not
time-bound. Committing to arranging a city break
for the Easter holiday is time-bound.
The SMART approach is
effective because it makes you think about
specific changes you are going to make in your
relationship within a time-frame. It prevents
people making vague promises and undertakings
about behavioral changes that they then fail to
If you each come up with some
SMART activities/behavioral changes and you both
deliver on them, you will see a rapid
improvement in the problem areas in your
Spend 5 minutes a day
visualizing yourself performing
some of the behavioural changes
you have committed to.
1. Imagine yourself carrying out
the improvement task/activity.
2. Create a strong mental image
which includes the visualized
scene and the people in it.
3. Play it like a short movie
with a start, middle, and end.
Run the movie several times in
your mind zooming in on
different aspects of the scene
4. Run it from start to finish
and then try running it in