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Secrets of a Couples Counselor: 3 Steps to Happier Relationships | Susan L. Adler | TedxOakParkWomen


1. Use Anything but anger- when your upset, sit down, take a deep breath, and think about what’s really going on. Use any other emotion(s) but anger.

2. Raising the bar- challenge yourself to be helpful when your partner is having a bad day. Don’t engage in conflict.

3. Use “I would love it if...” statements, instead of blaming or criticizing one another. Ex. Rather than “You never wash the dishes!” Say “I would really love it if you could wash the dishes next round.”


Auto Generated YouTube Transcript:


if you're trying to be a good person if you want to be your best possible self these are pretty tough times so what if we could inspire each other especially the people we partner with to become more thoughtful more loving versions of ourselves my friends Ruby and Jeff inspired me they always had they were charming completely down-to-earth good nice people and totally devoted to each other but one day many years ago something happened one day Ruby wanted out I had never seen her so furious and according to her it was all Jeff's fault everything was all Jeff's fault I deserved more she said so much more and I thought really more from Jeff Jeff was the guy that came home after working a hard day's work and made elaborate meals for their family just because so what had got into Ruby and what did Oprah have to do with it oh we're going there but not just yet as a couple's counselor I hear a lot of people talk a whole lot about how the problems in their relationship are absolutely not their fault when their partner's upset with them they say things like she's too sensitive or he doesn't know what he's talking about when I hear things like this I sit and I listen and I empathize with their pain and frustration but I know that playing the blame game never gets anyone what they really want in need when our relationships in trouble were hurt and were angry we feel wounded and misunderstood so we can't always see our own role and all that unhappiness we give ourselves a free pass then we magnify our partners every misstep we store up all that hurt and pain in what I call a black bag of resentment that resentment is a relationship killer the bigger the bag the more we feel like a victim and the area we get overtime we might still be a couple but we're no longer a team we become opponents in a war that has no winner to stop being a victim we have to let go of that heavy black bags release our pain and send it out into the universe take responsibility for our mistakes and apologize for the unhappiness that we have caused that's not easy letting go involves changing the story that we tell ourselves and admitting to being part of the problem and the solution so how do we do that so many relationship problems actually have very little to do with the relationship itself research tells us that the less stress we have the happier our relationships the problem is we mix that up all the time instead of seeing that our own unhappiness put stress in our relationship we blame our relationship for our unhappiness we get mad then we try to get even then we wonder why things go badly these three steps can help step number one anything but anger step number two raising the bar and step number three I would love it if statements to remember step number one anything but anger or ABA for short think about the 70s band ABBA you know they do dancing queen because they have the same initials a BA well sort of Plus at least for me it's hard to imagine being angry listening to ABBA I mean it's Abba angers also like the bodyguard of emotions when we're angry we protect ourselves from feeling hurt that's because hurt is such a harder thing to feel than anger hurt makes us feel vulnerable being vulnerable makes us feel powerless and nobody wants to feel powerless so we use anger to push away our hurt and our sadness and our vulnerability and in the process we end up pushing away the people that we love the most angers also the kerosene of relationship problems poor anger onto any issue that you're having and watch it ignite this may be why we can have the same argument over and over and over again and what you might call argument deja vu the anger builds and feeds on itself until there's permanent damage or it explodes so when you find yourself feeling angry sit down take a deep breath and ask yourself what am I really feeling underneath all this anger expressing just about anything other than frustration or anger can bring you closer the next time your partner disappoints and they will instead of going on the attack imagine saying I feel sad or I feel hurt or I feel disappointed anything just about anything other than anger can help you open up let your partner in and start a conversation instead of an argument the second step is raising the bar which is when you challenge yourself to be better whether your partner is behaving well or they're behaving badly whether they're meeting your needs or they're not meeting your needs you take the high road suppose your partner's stressed out or they're in their mood in a mood or they're being irrational hard to imagine I know you can go down that rabbit hole with them or you can make a different choice when your partner's spinning out of control and that's most of us from time to time you don't have to catch their crazy ball as the saying goes the hallmark of a good relationship is when only one person goes crazy at a time instead of catching the crazy raise the bar and challenge yourself to be helpful patient caring and kind these are all factors that research indicates make relationships happier instead of yelling oh my god what is wrong with you stop take a breath imagine saying I'm so sorry you're upset what's bothering you is important to me how can I help there is nothing to fight about if you're being helpful you won't get caught in the downward spiral if you're consciously raising the bar the third and final step is using I would love it if statements I would love it if you would offer to help me with the groceries I would love it if you would tell me when I look nice I would love it if we picked a night to be alone together doesn't that sound better then you never make time for me but a word of caution only use I would love it in a way that's positive and future focused so don't say negative things like I would love it if you would stop being such a jerk that's not positive that's criticism and don't say things to focus on the past like I would love it if you would clean the kitchen yesterday again that's just criticism focus on moving forward and being positive this is how you set your partner and yourself and your relationship up for success this is how you get your needs met think of it like this your relationship is like a garden a garden needs water and fertilizer and sunshine to grow and a relationship needs connection and communication and playfulness to blossom when we nourish our relationship we become a team and we build the trust and goodwill that we'll need to get us through the difficult times but remember these are self-improvement steps not weapons so don't for example criticize your partner because they forgot to raise the bar lastly these skills aren't for every situation and they're not for every couple frankly not every relationship should survive some are just way too unhealthy anything but anger raising the bar and I would love it if statements these three steps can make you happier and can help you create the relationship that you want and need when we take responsibility and we value one another our new attitude can actually inspire our new partner to want to do the same thing which brings me back to my friends Ruby and Jeff I finally found out what would happen to Ruby so much of her anger wasn't even about Jeff she just wasn't herself she becomes stressed and fearful about other personal family and completely non related issues and then one day she was watching Oprah that bad guy there Oprah was featuring an episode that had a entire panel of perfect impossibly romantic men and Jeff he was a regular normal guy he wasn't a romance superstar in truth neither was Ruby nevertheless she lost it she wanted Jeff to be just like those men on Oprah and then she demanded that Jeff become just like those men on Oprah and the more she demanded guess what he did the more he resisted and the angrier they both became she was pushing Jeff away just when she needed him most things looked really bad for them but guess which three relationship tools she decided to try first she focused on anything but anger instead of taking her stress out on Jeff and and her pain and her fears out on him she shared what was going on with her she shared what was underneath her anger that made him feel closer to her and he wanted to be there for her second she raised the bar by showing him how much she loved and needed him which inspired him to want to become more romantic and because she did such a great job with step one and step two she almost really didn't even need to use any I would love it if statements because her love drew him to her we all know relationships that should end we all have friends who've divorced but Ruby and Jeff that crisis long past they're going on thirty happy years together and inspiring the rest of us to do the same I hope you'll follow their lead and inspire your partner and yourself to have a stronger more loving relationship and I hope you'll share with others your secrets to a happier relationship with tips like this [Applause] [Music]


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