By Brian Feinblum, Chief Marketing Officer
“To have a successful relationship, both partners must adhere to the 72-hour rule,” says marriage therapist Dr. Margot E. Brown, who is represented to the media by MEDIA CONNECT. “This means that, from this moment forward, they are only allowed to talk about the upsetting behavior or situation if it had happened in the past 72 hours.”
Too often couples who are discussing one topic bring up past situations and make it a part of the conversation, and it inserts itself negatively between the partners.
“Forget the past and your conclusion as to what negative impression you have about how your partner keeps doing that same behavior,” says Dr. Brown in Kickstart Your Relationship Now! Move On or Move Out! “Make today a new and fresh day – free of agendas – just this conversation at this moment. Try it as an experiment. The goal is to focus right on what you are thinking and feeling now. When your partner starts talking to you (and you are both facing each other, not doing something else with your back to each other), tell your partner what you heard, how you feel, and what you need, right now! You have nothing to lose except perhaps a large and looming past that always comes between you every time you sit down and talk.”
If couples can abide by the rule, they can bury the hatchet on the past and permit themselves to only focus on the present. It’s like a statute of limitations for crimes, only this applies to marital complaints. On a romantic day like Valentine’s Day, pledging to keep this rule in mind for the future can help ensure future relationship success.
Dr. Brown suggests these key steps be followed by both partners:
1. Stop blaming each other about the past. Stay in the now.
2. Express your own needs/wants clearly but without blame.
3. Pay attention, monitor yourself, and examine your own thoughts and feelings during the information exchange.
4. Communicate your thoughts and feelings in a direct but non-threatening way to your partner.
5. If you feel tense, agree to take a 20-minute break and to come back to finish the conversation.
6. Communicate acknowledgement, not necessarily agreement.
7. Finish the discussion successfully (without misinterpreting, making false assumptions, speaking with raised voices, and having full-blown arguments/fights that cycle to nowhere except more pain).
“Once couples learn the technique of staying in the present while talking about the past, then they can talk about anything with a successful outcome,” says Dr. Brown. “Staying grounded in the present means being able to talk about a past hurt or unresolved problem but describe what you think and feel right now.”