The best valentine’s day gift ever

Are you one of those individuals who don’t know what to give your spouse this Valentine’s Day? I highly recommend a gift which is beyond consumer products, a Valentine’s gift that will shift how you deal with conflicts in your relationship.

Here are 5 steps to resolve a conflict in a relationship and to establish an emotional bond.

(1)   Recognize when you are emotionally triggered.

Emotional triggers are unwanted feelings such as anger, anxiety, disappointment, sadness that you feel during a conflict with your spouse. Labelling your emotions and paying attention to your body sensations can reduce the intensity of your feelings. For example, you might want to say to your spouse. “I am triggered right now; I am aware of tightness in my chest, and my throat is parched.”

(2)   Recognize when you need space:

When you enter into a conflict with your spouse ask for space to regulate your emotions. “I need a few minutes to think through this; I’ll go for a walk, we will revisit this issue when I get back.” It is tough to resolve conflict when emotions are heightened. Stepping back will give you an opportunity to bring rational thoughts to your conflict. Make sure to always set up time to revisit the conflict without leaving it for too long. Remember taking too much space will be viewed as avoiding the conflict, which is unhealthy to your relationship.

(3)   Recognize your emotional needs:

Break down your thoughts, feelings and your actions around what is going on. Ask yourself “What am I hearing and what meaning am I giving to what I am hearing?”Most couples fight because of unmet emotional needs, misunderstandings and interpretation of what is going on during a conflict. It is helpful to journal down your thoughts and your feelings. This will help you to deal with belief systems that cause you to misinterpret the current issues.

(4)  Recognize the importance of clarification.

It is always effective to first seek to understand your spouse before asking him or her to understand you. When your spouse is heard, and understood he or she would most likely want to hear you in return. Ask your spouse to share their thoughts and feelings without criticizing, judging or name calling. Remember, your spouse loves you, but he or she is stuck under his or her fears and insecurities that hinder effective communication. You can ask your spouse ” when you heard me say …, what did you really hear? What are your thoughts around that? What are your fears? For example, the fear of abandonment, the fear of not being able to count and rely on the beloved. After you have heard your spouse’s fears and insecurities, request to be heard in return. You will be able to understand each other on a much deeper level that will foster a stronger emotional bond and a secure connection.

(5) Recognize the significance of reassuring your spouse.

 A couple can remind each other during the conflict the love and commitment they have for each other despite how they feel during the conflict. For example, “I know I love you even though I am angry right now.” They can choose to step back out of the conflict and see the commitment and love that they both have for each other. Remember your spouse is not your enemy, he or she feels lost and stuck just as you feel and you can both choose to navigate through the maze of the conflict together.

If you follow the steps above every time during conflict with your spouse your relationship dynamic will experience a shift which will foster an emotional bond and a secure attachment.

Happy Valentine’s Day,


By Susan Wenzel

Psychotherapist and Certified Sex Therapist


Twitter: @wenzelsusan

FB: Sex & relationships with susan

Winnipeg, Manitoba

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