Even in the most harmonic relationships problems and conflicts arise. This is normal and inevitable. In a deep disruption of the relationship visiting a family counselor or therapist is strongly advised. In cases of less severe problems a self-help approach can be sufficient. The Systematic Family Therapy offers strong principles that can also be helpful for the process of a couple coping with their problems on their own.
Focus on the Relationship Not on the Individuals
A large number of couples cannot successfully resolve their conflicts. Because each partner blames the other for the problems. This only leads to hardened fronts and no partner is willing to compromise and positively find a solution. Just think about it, if there was no relationship there would be no conflict. Therefore, the individual is not to blame for the problems but a solution for the relationship is required.
Understand the Communication Process as a Circle
The problems of a relationship lie in the interactions of the two partners. To find a good solution the partners need to get insights into their communication. Often, each partner sets a different event as being the initial situation of a conflict which can lead to an escalating fight because the partners do not work on the same problem. A couple must agree on the initial situation which requires a sound understanding communication which is a circle rather than a straight-line process.
Uncover and Redefine Patterns of Thoughts and Behavior
A large amount of behavior in general and interactions in a relationship is organized in patterns which repeat over and over again. This does not only apply to positive but also to problematic behavior. Therefore, it is crucial to realize which automated behavior causes problems and how it can be replaced including the associated emotional and cognitive patterns.
Try Different Perspectives
People often forget that there are more points of view than their own. Especially in conflicts, such attitude is very dangerous because the flexibility to find new solutions gets lost. On the other hand, the probability of defining and accepting new ways increases when the partners take the perspective of the other and look at the relationship from the outside.
Work on Subjective Problems and Not on an External Reality
When dealing with a conflict it is essential to understand that the problem and also the solution are not about optimizing an external and objective reality but to improve the lives of two partners.
Be Aware of Influences from Outside the Relationship
Of course, the social life is more than just an intimate relationship. Therefore, you should be aware that cultural influences, other social contacts and circumstances as well as the history of each partner, have an effect on the thinking, actions and reactions within the couple relationship.
Focus on Positives and Solutions
Last but not least the possibly the most important principle of the systematic approach to relationship self-help is to focus on the positives. Most couples have good and well-working aspects even if they face severe problems. Focus on these positives because it is often easier to build on strengths than it is to solve severe difficulties. Furthermore, stay positive throughout the whole self-help process and focus on the solution with your improved life as a good couple. Then you should be able to make a positive relationship decision.