Clean Slate Strategy For Couples
The clean slate strategy for couples involves choosing to start anew—to let go of negative relationship habits or built-up resentments and start fresh. The opportunity for a clean slate can be created arbitrarily. An example of an arbitrary clean slate is New Years Eve. Many strive to start fresh for the coming year by setting New Years resolutions. The opportunity for a clean slate may at times be thrust upon us through a change, positive or negative. You may get a new job or be downsized or fired. You may form a new relationship or you may end a relationship. A child may be born or you may lose a loved one.
Whether you create or are given the opportunity for a clean slate, you can use these times to rethink and recreate our patterns and habits. You can repeat the clean slate strategy at any time to build a more loving relationship. Holding on to resentments and negative judgments about your partner, their family, or their habits will make it extremely difficult to create positive memories together. Letting go of the build-up of resentment makes room for more loving habits and patterns.
You can choose at any time to wipe the slate clean. Sit down together and talk through the old hurts and resentments. Refuse to follow your old patterns of defensiveness or withdrawal. Try instead to actively listen to each other. This means one of you, at a time, talks about a hurt or resentment and the other simply validates and repeats in their own words what they have heard. Validation and active listening can make it easier to let go of old hurts. Forgiveness is a huge part of the clean slate strategy. Forgiving your partner for past hurts and forgiving yourself for insecurities or contributions to the problems.
Wiping the slate clean is a choice that can be made as needed. Most important is how you continue once the slate is wiped clean. Starting with a clean slate implies that something different will follow. If you simply continue with the same behavior that created the problems in the first place, you will find the old hurts will tend to reappear with a vengeance.
The following will help you to move forward with a clean slate:
- Focus on what you value about each other and your relationship. Pay attention to what has worked and do more of that. Make a point of noticing and expressing gratitude for the positive.
- Identify what behaviors need to change and work to break negative patterns of relating. Practice positive behavior habits.
- Set healthy boundaries. Give yourself permission to say no to things that are hurtful. Respect each other’s boundaries.
- Replace blaming, punishing and defensiveness with acceptance, forgiveness and willingness to hear each other.
- Choose to act, think and speak lovingly, especially when you least feel like it.
Consider using the clean slate strategy for couples to start fresh and move toward creating a stronger more loving relationship. You can use the strategy together. You can also begin on your own.