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    Four Words That Can Change Your Relationship

    I have noticed in the blogosphere that the articles that offer ‘3 Steps to …” or the “Four Vegetables no one should eat” are the ones that sort of jump out at you and have some sort of gravitational pull. It is as though the key to a more successful, happier life is there —guaranteed. Well, I am not promising your best life now, or even absolute contentment, however I do feel like these four words that you will read below have the possibility to bring significant change in your relationships “IF” they are acted upon.

    Years ago I met I guy that would eventually become a great friend of mine, and I am glad to be a co-laborer with him in the effort to save marriages. Dr. Rick Marks has been a great friend and mentor to me and has impressed on me the grave importance of these four words that I would now like to share with you; goodwill, respect, humility, and empathy. Actually we could probably dedicate an entire article to each of them and just scratch the surface, so here we will only hit wave tops.

    Goodwill. I asked one couple in my office one time what I meant by goodwill and I got the response, “you mean like the thrift store?” For clarification, we are not referring to the thrift store or the great charitable organization that bears the same name. When we talk of goodwill we are talking about intending the very best for and believing the best of our partner. This is not just naively sitting back and taking what you get, though it is believing that your partner is intending good for you and for the relationship. A more important part though is this —are you intending good for your partner and the relationship with the things that you say and do? It is a two way street, but you are driving the car on your side of the street.

    Respect. Showing honor to your partner and deferring to them; yes, this is the idea of considering them before yourself. This can come across in many ways and one of the biggest may simply be not interrupting while they are in mid sentence. To be willing to listen and give of your time and attention is a great way of showing respect. One thing that will rob you of respect rather quickly is sarcasm —watch out for this respect thief.

    Humility. This is the idea that there are things that you may not know. Dr. Rick and I have laughed at how when a couple gets into an argument one of the partners (if not both) all of a sudden becomes omnipotent. We are much better when we realize, and are willing to admit that we in fact do not know all things. To approach your partner with the attitude that you may be seeing things very differently AND that you are interested in their perspective is one great way to show humility. To be willing to confess that you are wrong is also a tremendous show of humility.

    Empathy. This is more than the proverbial “walk a mile in my shoes.” This is to look at a situation or to hear something that your partner says and to ‘feel what they feel’ in a way that you are able to express something like, “that must have been…. I am sorry that you had to go through that.” In order to touch their emotion in this way, you will have to pay attention to them and be present with them in the moment. This is a super important way for couples to connect with one another.

    When you commit to employing these ‘four words’ into your relationship you will see a marked difference. Dr. Rick calls these the four walls that protect a relationship —I like to refer to them as the four corners of the foundation that holds the relationship up. When these concepts are active in your relationship they will be a protective force enabling growth, and when any of them are absent there will be potential for struggle.

    I hope this helps you today. Be blessed and keep it moving forward!