September 04, 2002
To rescue your relationship — with your partner and with yourself — follow Dr. Phil’s 10-step strategy.
STEP 1: Open the reconnection dialogue.
Use your knowledge and powers of persuasion to encourage your partner into a constructive position. Prepare an opening statement for your partner. In your opening statement, be sure to address your partner’s fears and points of resistance, but also make clear that there are immediate and meaningful benefits for your partner. If your partner can see what’s in it for him/her, resistance will be at a minimum. Assuming that your partner is at least willing to sit still while you share some of your relationship thinking, then move on to Step 2.
STEP 2: Describe the work you have been doing.
Let your partner know that you have been reading up on improving your relationship. The key here is to come off casually. Do not sound condescending or arrogant about the subject. Reassure your partner that you don’t believe you’re a relationship expert, but that you’ve learned and are continuing to learn important elements to constantly improve a relationship. When you sense your partner is ready, move forward to
STEP 3: Describe your efforts to get back to your core of consciousness.
Get more specific about your new knowledge. Describe the concept of getting to know your core consciousness. Explain the idea that our own self-worth, self-esteem, and dignity lie within each of us. Be sure to emphasize that finding your core consciousness has made you feel better about you, and as a result, about your partner. And that if your partner exercises this same concept, you can be an unstoppable team. Encourage your partner to ask questions and to start discussions.
STEP 4: Talk about the Ten Relationship Myths.
Let your partner know that it is no wonder the relationship has gone downhill " you've both been exposed to wrong thinking! The myths are usually good stimuli for discussions. Go through them for as long as your partner seems willing to stay attentive.
STEP 5: Explain the Bad Spirit.
Let your partner know that you have taken a very self-critical look at the spirit with which you have approached and functioned within this relationship. You've confronted your bad spirits, and in turn started to transform your life. Give a specific example of when you've allowed one of your bad spirits to dominate you. Discuss as many bad spirits as you like and that your partner can handle. Remember to focus on you.
STEP 6: Introduce the Personal Relationship Values.
Spend extra time on this step. Discuss these values as goals to strive for in your relationship. Reminiscing here can be useful. If you can reconnect with memories of the times of good friendship, it can create positive momentum. As you progress through the Personal Relationship Values, find as many specific examples as possible. If you feel you're ready to move forward, go on to Step 7. If you or your partner feel drained, take a break. It may take hours, days, or several weeks to ultimately get through all of these steps.
STEP 7: Share the Formula for Success in a Relationship.
At this point, you should have the formula memorized, so you can look your partner in the eyes and say it. "The quality of the relationship is a function of the extent to which it is built on a solid underlying friendship and meets the needs of the two people involved." Refer to both of your needs when you are discussing your relationship.
STEP 8: Share your Partner Profile.
You are now at an extremely critical part of the reconnecting process. Be careful and unthreatening as you share your thoughts about your partner to your partner. Present them in a validating and gentle way. Be sure to focus on your partner's accomplishments. Be sensitive, and move through this step patiently and delicately.
STEP 9: Clarify your partner's needs.
Be honest but diplomatic in communicating what you think are your partner's needs. Remember to characterize them in an uncritical way. Step 9 allows you to get heartfelt responses from your partner about your reconnection approach. Explain to your partner that the needs you've discerned are merely a starting place for further discussions. Allow your partner to disagree and replace your interpretation of a need with one of his/her own. Stay patient. Don't forget that because you've been doing most of the work, you are probably way ahead of your partner in evolution of your thinking about your relationship.
STEP 10: Sharing your own Personal Profile.
This final step is all about you. You are now taking a giant risk by sharing your deepest, innermost needs and fears. Have the courage to name it so you have the opportunity to claim it. Tell your partner what you need.
Here is a simple list of dos and don'ts for dealing with your partner during this important process: