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Seven Principles Towards A Well-Functioning, Securely Attached Partnership

1. Name your emotions instead of acting them out.

This is perhaps the #1 shift that I try to help people with. Say “I’m frustrated,” instead of “You never ______!” Say “I’m hurt,” instead of “You’re so critical!” Say “I’m feeling overwhelmed,” rather than just shutting down or pulling away. (For more, and the reasons why, see Non-Violent Communication.)


Empty bench in snowy scene with bare trees.
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Being Right

This one is almost a no-brainer, except losing it is much easier said than done. There are sayings like “You can be right and be alone,” and Rumi’s famous quote about meeting in the field beyond right…


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The Shifting Roles While Sheltering at Home

  • Two partners who previously worked at offices are now at home. How do they negotiate the space, and being around each other all the time?
  • A third couple with several small children and pets. Now everyone’s at home all the time, homeschooling the kids and taking care of the pets while working remotely. They’ve lost their childcare, housecleaner, and dog-walker, at least for the period of the lockdown.
  • For others, rather…


Here’s how to respond.

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  1. One partner has a different value about something that we are failing to understand well enough.
  2. It really was a small thing — and the other person was just tired and/or hangry.

Let’s take these in order.

1. Not The Thing Itself


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Assessing and Addressing the Level of Conflict In Your Relationship


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Mind Expanding vs. Mind Narrowing


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Strategies for Minimzing Judgement

Judgements and struggles over who’s right are destructive in relationships (see Right and Wrong, Tale of Two Stories). In essence, what Marshall Rosenberg of Nonviolent Communication calls “moralizing judgements” are thoughts or statements that imply another person’s wrongness, badness, or inferiority. The extreme exemplar of judgement is contempt, which is anger with a tone of superiority.

Contempt is corrosive to relationships, and at the core of in-group/out-group binary thinking that promotes xenophobia and violence.

It is the emotional opposite of love.


Photo by author.

(Hint: It’s not only because we can.)


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What problems are deal breakers for you and what problems are you willing to take on?

Family & Friends

OK, let’s just get this one out of the way right out the gate. If you…


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Listening for the meaningful subtext of a harsh message.

Robert Solley

Making sense of relationships.

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