THIS is what you must repair FIRST to heal your relationship.

Have you ever felt like you’re walking on egg shells around your partner? Do she (or he) become defensive no matter what you say? Despite what you might think, this issue is actually not a ‘communication problem.’ It’s something bigger.

So, if you’re both “working on better communication” as a couple to resolve your issues, I hate to break it to you — you’re just addressing the symptoms. It’s the actual illness in the relationship that you need to identify and address, otherwise disconnect and conflict will continue.

Say ‘Thank You’ for Something Every Single Day

Show your partner how much you appreciate and value her. There are countless little ways to do this. It could start with something as simple and sincere as: “I really appreciate you making the coffee. Thank you.”

Give Your Partner Your Full Attention at Least Once Per Day

Do this without looking at your Facebook feed, messing around with your smart phone or side-glancing at the TV. Drop what you’re doing when your partner wants to talk with you and focus all of your attention (and interest) on him by making full eye contact.

 Be the First to Apologize for Your Role in Any Disconnect

Saying “I’m sorry” is not easy if you feel wronged, but you can say, “I want you to know, I’m sorry for my part last night and I love you.” No reason to defend yourself. You have said enough.

 Ask for a Hug

Tell your partner you want to hold her for just a minute, knowing she might refuse, hug you back half-heartedly, or say something dumb. Ask for the hug anyway because it might create a moment of reconnection.

Tether Back to Your True Feelings of Love

Why are you with your partner in the first place? Why do you love this person? What do you want your life together to be like? Share this with him, speaking from your heart, without asking your partner to do or say anything in response.