Real, lasting relationships are NOT what you see in romance movies. There is a reason the movies only last a few hours—a real relationship cannot stay at that gushy, melt-your-heart level for much longer than that. A true relationship is based on the ordinary. The relationships that are built to withstand the everyday, routine life are the ones that are the strongest. The H-E-A-L technique can help repair a relationship as well as build and maintain relationships that you want to work every day of your life.
Step1. Hear—It has been said to that you should listen twice as much as you speak, but this only works if you are really trying to hear what your partner is saying. Try to fully understand your partner’s state, which includes body language and facial expression in addition to the words being said. Be present in conversations, and make sure you are communicating. Lack of communication is a huge relationship killer.
Step 2. Empathize—Not all problems need solutions. Sometimes it is best to just be there for someone and let them know you understand where they are coming from. Giving a solution can sometimes come across as judgment, according to Dr. Greenberg of Psychology Today. Really try to put yourself in your partner’s place. If you can understand why he or she would feel a certain way, your response to those feelings will likely be more positive.
Step 3. Act—Do not get caught in a negative cycle. If there is problem, address it. Take action to discuss and fix any issues that are troublesome. If you are constantly fighting about the same thing, there hasn’t been any resolution. It is important to remember that couples fight. You don’t always have to agree or see eye to eye on every issue to be in love. However, it is important to be respectful and understanding of each person being unique and having their own ideas. No one is perfect. Be accepting of that in others and yourself and always work to make yourself and the relationship better.
Step 4. Love—Love, love, love, and love some more. Make special effort to help your partner feel loved. Do not take one another for granted and never forget the special moments from your relationship. Take time to reminisce. Talk about the good qualities and feelings that make that person special to you.
Remember that relationships take work. There are some moments that may feel like the love story on TV, but those are the rarity. You have to choose to put in the effort to find happiness in the ordinary, but the good part, it is worth it.
Dr. Parisi and his staff of marriage and family therapists in Chicago offer affordable counseling that can help you use the H-E-A-L technique as well as many others (See this post to avoid relationship problems) to make a healthy and lasting relationship.
Greenberg, M. (2013). Four steps to relationship repair with the H-E-A-L technique. Psychology Today.