22 October 2018Last updated


A relationship coach's top tips

Relationship coach Evelyn Heffermehl d'Emilio shares her tips on being a loving partner

By Louisa Wilkins
1 Feb 2012 | 12:00 am
  • Couple kissing

    When you listen to your partner, be present - yourpresence will automatically make you supportive.

    Source:Shutterstock Image 1 of 2
  • Evelyn Heffermehl d'Emilio

    "Do the small things often," says Evelyn Heffermehl d'Emilio.

    Source:Supplied picture Image 2 of 2

Be influenced...

"We all mess up and say things we later regret. Successful and stable couples are not ones that don't have conflict - they are couples that know how to navigate their conflicts.

"They admit their mistakes, they apologise, they validate their partner's opinions - and they are able to joke, as well. In other words, they are open to their partner's influence, and they don't let their ego get in the way of their relationship too much. ‘We' is more important for them than ‘me'."

Say thank you...

"A general tip that I really like from relationship expert John Gottman is to do the small things often.

"Saying simple things such as ‘thank you', or ‘I really appreciated that you cooked dinner for us last night', or ‘have a good day', or ‘did you sleep well?' are all important because they nurture love on a daily basis."

Be realistic...

"Find happiness within yourself so that you don't burden your partner with a long list of expectations - a list that no one can fulfil. Remember, your partner is not an object put here to tend to your needs."

Say it like it is...

"Say how you feel as openly and non-critically as possible at any given time. Do not hide things under the carpet hoping they will go away."

Be kind...

"Criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling are behaviours that are toxic to relationships. A general antidote to these is to maintain and nurture your admiration and fondness for each other on a daily basis."

Repeat back...

"People are often trapped in their own minds and do not listen at a deep level. To counter this, repeat back to your partner what he has said so that, if you didn't get it right, he can clarify it for you. Also, speak from an ‘I' perspective rather than ‘You', so that you say how you feel rather than accuse. For example, ‘I hear how important this is for you, and here is how I feel. What can we do about it?' Using ‘and' instead of ‘but' creates connection and ‘we-ness'."

Give support

"Sometimes we try too hard to show our support with lots of words and advice. But the best way to be supportive is to just to ‘be' - to give your partner space, an occasional nod of the head, a ‘hmmm', or simply by saying, ‘I understand how frustrating this must be for you'. When you listen to your partner, be present - your presence will automatically make you supportive."

For more from Evelyn, visit

By Louisa Wilkins

By Louisa Wilkins