You're going to argue with your partner. After all, each of you has a unique set of beliefs about how things "should" be - and that's normal. But beneath our differences, each of us wants the same thing: to be respected, appreciated, valued and acknowledged, as if our opinions matter and we are a worthy partner in our relationship.
Years ago, during one of those heated arguments with my husband over something stupid, I realized that whatever we were fighting about - the color of the new rug or some silly accessory - was not the real reason for our conflict. Rather, it was our desperate need to be heard and understood.
When I got that, my level of hostility immediately dropped to zero, and my heart filled with a warm fuzziness. This guy has more positives than negatives, I thought, and even the things that drive me up the wall, I can live with; he's a keeper. So in this moment that love prevailed, I took his hands in mine and gazed deep into his eyes. Then I asked him this question, which made a profound difference in our relationship from that day on: "How can I be a better wife to you?"
Never did I feel more vulnerable and emotionally exposed, yet so received by my husband. His gaze softened and his muscles relaxed. "Can you please be more patient with me?" he asked, borderline begging. "I know I'm not perfect, but I am trying," he said.
"I'll try too," I whispered back, losing myself in his embrace, falling under the spell of compassion and acceptance. Of course he is not perfect, I thought; and neither am I.
And no, this wasn't an act of surrender or submission - I really meant it. Because when we drop our own outlook for the sake of love, then, naturally, we want to make our partner happy. In a way, this is how we close the loop of love - by sharing it and receiving it back.
What I've discovered, though, is that we can't demand something of another, without offering it first ourselves. That sucks, I know, and yet, it's empowering because it puts you in the control seat in your life. And the only real control we have in life is over ourselves, never another.
Of course, it's not always possible to be that wise person who reflects on things maturely - especially in the heat of an argument. Sometimes blaming your partner and sleeping in different rooms just seems so much easier.
If you need to, listen to soft, meditative music; take a relaxing bath with bath salts and lavender-chamomile oil; listen to a motivational speaker; read your favorite self-help book; call a positive friend; or even take a nap.
The point is to calm yourself down enough (not with alcohol or food, as they may suppress transformational insights that lead to lasting improvement) to let your mature self step in.
So what kind of husband, wife or partner do you want to be in your relationship? Think about it. And since life is all about growing and improving, ask the question: How can I be a better husband or wife? Let your spouse be your mirror, telling you what areas of growth you need most. Don't take what he or she says as criticism, but rather as constructive feedback and an opportunity for you to evolve and grow. Consider what they say and commit to self-improvement. The more you improve, the better your relationship becomes.
Katherine Agranovich is a Certified Medical and Anesthesiology Hypnotherapist, and has completed comprehensive programs in Professional Hypnosis, Alchemical Hypnotherapy, Psychology of Hypnotherapy and Neuro-Linguistic Programing (NLP). Most recently, she received certification in Reconnective Healing and as an Integrative Mental Health practitioner. In 2004, she established Achieve Health Center, Inc., a holistic health center in Newport Beach, CA, helping people with a wide variety of mental, emotional and physical challenge