FOR THE LOVE OF RELATIONSHIPS – Secrets of loving well

I recently returned from the 12th Annual National Alliance for Relationship and Marriage Education (NARME) Summit hosted in Salt Lake City, Utah. Hundreds of practitioners and researchers in the relationship development, marriage and fatherhood space listened to national speakers and attended three days of phenomenal workshops to learn the research regarding emergency responder families, blended families, relationship skills development, mentoring and teaching youth, serving complex and vulnerable families, reducing poverty, social determinants of health, protective and risk factors, human flourishing, foster families, child welfare practices and so much more. 

Dr. Gary Chapman, author of several books including, The Five Love Languages was one of the keynote speakers and received the coveted NARME Family Champion Impact Award. Dr. Chapman talked about the two things successful marriages must have:

Both people in the relationship need to feel loved and appreciated.

Both people in the relationship must deal with their failures in a healthy and effective manner.

Dr. Chapman reviewed the 5 love languages, how one gives and receives love-which are:

Words of Affirmation, 2. Quality Time 3. Acts of Service, 4. Gifts, 5. Touch

He continued explaining the 5 languages of apology from his book, The Language of Apology, which are: 1. Expressing Regret, 2. Accepting Responsibility, 3. Making Restitution, 4. Planned Change, 5. Requesting Forgiveness.

Then Dr. Chapman referred to the “Slow Start” skill when fighting that comes from Dr. John Gottman’s research. When fighting effectively it is called the “Slow Start” approach. To unpack this, a “slow start” means that when complaining, think about what you need instead of criticizing. Think about how your partner can shine. Catch them doing something right. Then, thank them for it. A “soft start” is how we treat guests and even strangers, with respect and kindness. Our partners deserve the same.

“Soft Start” components are: 1. Start the conversation gently, 2.  Complain, don’t blame. Complaining is okay, but criticizing is not. 3. Ask for what you need. 4. Keep the conversation positive. 5. Thank your partner. For example, one can say, “I would like it if you listened to me rather than saying, “You aren’t listening to me.” Another example is saying, “I appreciate if you would clean up your stuff on the table.” rather than saying, “This table is a total mess.” Let’s say the situation is about responsibility and the topic is about a dent in the car. A harsh start up sounds like, “I saw the dent on the car. Were you going to tell me about it? When are you going to stop being so reckless?” A softened alternative: “I saw that dent on the car. What happened? Honey, I’m getting worried about your driving. I want you to be safe. Can we talk about this?”

Possessing these skills for a thriving relationship are a game changer. Small intentional changes in how to interact with one’s partner can make all the difference in being happy or frustrated with your relationship. Love efficiently by discovering your partner’s love language. Here is a link to take the assessment. . Learn the language of apology by visiting this link,  and practice a soft start when conflicts arise.