Relationship Flags

Relationship flagsWe often come in to a relationship and get along beautifully, which propels long lasting interest.

Little relationship flags start to wave. According to Dr. John Gottman, the three phases of a relationship are the “ In love” “the behaviors that need to be addressed or accepted” and the last which is “commitment”.

The first phase is the most fun, but it doesn’t last. Since we are all humans with our own flaws, history and behaviors that may not be attractive to our mate, and vise versa. These behaviors have to either be tolerated or adjusted so not to offend our lover.

The problem is when one partner notices the behavior and finds it offensive to him or her, often times it doesn’t get talked about it. Instead it gets swept under the rug, or is slowly builds up and then the couple fight. Not always about the annoyance, the fight is usually about something ridiculous which is merely a vent to what is truly bothersome.

This second phase “ FLAGS” can easily be addressed without sweeping it under the rug, or escalate into a fight. Bringing up a sensitive topic takes finesse. And if this is handled in a mature delicate manner, the tone of your relationship should remain on a respectful track throughout your life together. How do you broach a subject that may embarrass or hurt your partner? Certainly having someone point out a behavior can sting. So when you need to point this out, a preparation sentence can help ease into what can be a productive discussion. Tips: 1.stick to the point. 2.Start with “I feel….ex: ( I feel hurt when you joke with people at my expense), 3. “ I know you don’t meant to hurt me.” 4. So next time can you please be more mindful because it does feel bad to me, and I will try to explore why it bothers me so much.” 5. Thank you.
To keep fighting only chips away at the love and affection. And trying to change your partner won’t work either. The change needs to come from the individual because they choose to. If the behavior doesn’t subside, then that’s another issue altogether!

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Dana and Don, are co-founders of The Mediation and Family Counseling Group.   We can be reached at, or 1-888-281-2725.

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