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How Can I Make Sure our Love Lasts Forever?

I am deeply in love with my new girlfriend and I want to know what we can do to insure that our love lasts forever.

Answer: 

It's great that you're writing to me before problems arise. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure (and prevents you from pounding on each other)! The most important thing that you both can do is insure that you handle your angry feelings properly. It's easy to be loving toward each other when you're feeling loving feelings.

The real challenge is to behave lovingly when you're mad as hell! To be loving in times of stress requires a commitment to doing so, the maturity to resist the impulse to say or do something that will do harm to your partner and your relationship, and, of course, above all you need to have the necessary skills to handle your anger properly.

My book, Till Death Do Us Part (Unless I Kill You First): A Step-by-Step Guide for Resolving Relationship Conflict lays out how to handle anger constructively. There are many skills involved. These include: Learning to communicate what's bothering you in a way that encourages the other person to want to hear you and be responsive.

The key is to present your problem in a calm, clear and concise way using my 'X-Y Formula, ' which is a statement that says I felt X, when you did Y (or you said Y). For fragile and defensive partners, you will need to avoid the word 'you' altogether and say, I felt X when Y was said or done. Then you will finish your statement with a Suggestion for the Future, so your partner knows what will make you would prefer next time.

Proper communication also includes eliminating what I call Fight Traps, which are dysfunctional fighting tactics that fuel the fire and cause more anger and fighting.

Fight Traps are grouped into two categories: open warfare and secret warfare. Open warfare Traps include, name calling, blaming, counterattacking, behaving defensively, kitchen sinking (throwing everything that 's bugging you into one discussion) etc. ; and secret warfare includes, guilt tripping, giving the silent treatment, forgetting on purpose, withholding what the other person wants, etc. Being a good listener, reflecting back what you have heard--to show you've heard and understood your partner (this is often all that 's needed to head-off a fight) learning to negotiate, and much more.

It's now easier than ever to put all my proven techniques into place, using my Relationship Rescue Kit. I encourage you to get started. It's best to have all the skills under your belt before trouble strikes. Think of a fire drill in which you practice your escape route before the fire erupts.I commend you for doing this work ahead of time. It's a great plan and the best way to insure your love will last and only grow stronger.

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