With the holidays around the corner, and before the stress and panic really hit, make this a time to look at your relationship and take inventory to see what’s working and what isn’t. Begin to NURTURE your relationship NOW, in new and more effective ways, so that the holidays can be a time of closeness and connection, rather than fighting and resentment.
What are the issues that are bothersome - the ones you’ve shoved under the rug? What are the issues that don’t really work in your relationship, but aren’t that bad?  What are the fights that cause pain and frustration that keep on recurring with no resolution?

In my new book, Breaking the Argument Cycle: How to Stop Fighting without Therapy, you’ll be amazed to learn that fighting about the same thing, again and again, can finally be resolved through my First Argument Technique (i.e., “FAT”). It’s a three-step system of Peel, Heal, and Reveal that exposes the ghosts from your past that are the real reason for those painful fights. Then, by using the accompanying workbook, you’ll get simple, yet effective tools, so resolution and healing can finally happen.

Below are 5 ways to nurture your relationship, generating change and gratitude, just in time for the holidays:

1.         Don’t wait until your relationship is REALLY in trouble. Look under the rug and see what issues you’ve swept there.  If all the issues seem overwhelming, just pick one. With observation, you’ll see that they’re all connected.  

2.         “This issue isn’t THAT bad; I can live with it.” THAT bad compared to what?  If it’s not working, it’s not working! It’s time to examine how things could work better. Instead, say, “This doesn’t work in my relationship, so let’s address it, look at it, and come up with ways to change it.”  If you never look and talk about the conflict, you’ll never find a solution!

3.         Recurring fights happen in most relationships, and most of us are clueless as to how to resolve them.  Instead of asking the same questions and getting the same answers that don’t resolve your arguments, ask some new questions to get some new answers.

4.         Don’t ignore any of the warning signs (even if they seem small and infrequent right now) that your relationship might be in trouble: fighting more than loving; sex patterns have changed; complacency has set in; your partner has become your enemy.  Address them as soon as you can!

5.         Know that it is possible to change old habits and patterns that don’t work. The sooner you address your issues, the less anger and hostility in your relationship.  Habits will repeat themselves and actually get worse as time goes on, unless they are recognized, talked about, and resolved.

Now, use these 5 tips to nurture your relationship, rather than continuing to “put it on hold” because of busy schedules, children, fear of change and confrontation, or lack of tools:

1.         Value your relationship and yourself enough to get help if you need it by reading books, seeing a psychotherapist or minister, or by joining a couple’s group.

2.         Remember how sacred your wedding vows are – treat your     marriage/relationship with that same respect and sacredness rather than taking it for granted and neglecting it. Commit to a weekly date and spend more quality time with EACH OTHER!   

3.         Learn ways to fight constructively and learn better communication with each other.

4.         Be grateful for your partner and your relationship.  Remember why you fell in love. Tell your partner what you’re grateful for about them, rather than what is wrong with them.

5.         Take responsibility for your part in the problems that you have.   It’s never a one-way street in relationships.  We both play our part.  What could you change that would make the relationship more loving and less adversarial?   

With the holidays approaching, give yourself and your relationship the greatest gifts of all:   Nurturance, Time, Energy, Commitment, Honesty, and Love. Reevaluate what’s working and what isn’t, and DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT!  Make one significant change that could be the beginning of having the relationship you’ve always wanted. DON’T WAIT!  There’s no time like the present!

Author's Bio: 

Also known as the "last ditch effort therapist," Sharon M. Rivkin, therapist and conflict resolution/affairs expert, is the author of Breaking the Argument Cycle: How to Stop Fighting Without Therapy and developer of the First Argument Technique, a 3-step system that helps couples fix their relationships and understand why they fight. Her work has been featured in O Magazine, O Newsletter, Reader's Digest, Time.com, Prevention.com, and WebMD.com. She's an expert at HitchedMag.com, where she contributes monthly articles on hot relationship topics. She's appeared on TV, Martha Stewart Whole Living Radio, and makes regular radio appearances nationwide. For more information, please visit www.sharonrivkin.com.