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Effective Connections for a Lifetime: 9 Things a Man Should Know


By Luke Dalfiume, PhD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Co-Owner, John R. Day & Associates, Christian Psychological Associates


The following are some tips for men to help improve their relationships. These are “from the couch,” based on my work with men in relationship counseling, and influenced by the work of researchers John Gottman and Judith Wallerstein.


  1. Learn Her Language: Often what is stated is not what is meant. Many communications from a wife or a girlfriend are meant to draw us in, to get us to attend. But they may come out like this: “Why don’t you ever talk to me?” “Why aren’t you more romantic?” “Why don’t you treat me like you did when we were dating?” “We don’t have any interests in common.”
    At bottom, all of these statements are about whether or not you care. If you can respond to that: “Do you care?” rather than the criticism, then you are going to be much more effective in responding to your wife or girlfriend.


  1. Be Effectively Real: It is important to be yourself with your partner. Too often I find that men and women have trouble sharing their hearts, minds, and souls with each other. This genuineness does not mean you should say whatever comes to mind. However, it does mean communicating your innermost thoughts and feelings with the other person.


  1. Turn Toward Each Other Instead of Away: When we are in a relationship, there are many times we can choose to turn toward our partner, or away from them. When we turn away from our partner, we tend to be focusing on our own world, and excluding them from it. This can be a LITERAL turning away, or it can be a SYMBOLIC turning away.

When we turn TOWARD, we are making a decision to have an open, soft heart toward our spouse or girlfriend. When we TURN AWAY, we begin to harden our heart toward our spouse or girlfriend.


  1. Develop a Shared Vision: A good marriage should include a shared vision of what brought them together and what they see for their future. Our stories are important for giving us a sense of shared purpose, and help bind us more closely together.


  1. Learn the Art of the Good Argument: Good conflict can help us see others, ourselves, and the events and tasks of our lives in new ways, helping us to be “sharper,” or more effective in our approach to life.

Conflict does not have to be, and a Good Argument certainly is not, an overtly explosive event. However, there will be differences when you are two different people, and arguments are going to happen. The following are elements increasing the likelihood that the argument will be a good one:


  1. There is a safe place for conflict. Both parties must know that arguing will never result in physical violence.
  2. Find out what the argument is REALLY about.
  3. Resolve the argument in a timely way.


  1. Maintain a context of connection and caring. There should be comments and actions that contribute to connection, rather than disconnection, during conflict.
  2. Find a win-win solution. Most arguments are not so important they are worth damaging the marriage in order to achieve a one-sided win. The PROCESS of conflict is typically at least as important as the CONTENT of the points made during an argument.


  1. Learn to Play Together: When couples spend time enjoying each other’s company their relationships immediately become more enriched. The act of having fun together helps open each partner up to the positive attributes of the other, and serves as a reminder of WHY we chose to be married to them.


  1. Be Monogamous in All Ways: Maintain Your Commitment: Doing this requires having boundaries in your marriage, and avoiding crossing over them into relationships or behaviors that will damage your marriage.


  1. Reject What Each of You Considers Undesirable/Unacceptable: To effectively connect we need to be willing to put our partner first. There are many things that can be deemed undesirable or unacceptable by our partner. We need to take our partner’s concerns seriously.


  1. Embrace Who Your Partner Is: All too often we want our spouses to become someone other than they are. While high expectations are good, it is dangerous to think that the person we married will become a dramatically different person.


For more information or to book an appointment, contact John R. Day & Associates, Christian Psychological Associates at phone 309-692-7755 or visit us online at We have an office in Peoria at 3716 W. Brighton Ave., as well as in Bloomington at 102 N. Main St., and in Eureka at 114 N. Main St.