- 7 Smart Ways to Improve Your Relationship With Your Spouse
- 10 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Relationship
- 1. Ask your partner something new
- 2. Designate a monthly date night
- 3. Express your appreciation
- 4. Tweak your schedule
- 5. Remember the small things
- 6. Let go of the past
- 7. Show your affection
- 8. Learn your partner’s boundaries
- 9. Know when to apologize
- 10. Make time to focus on yourself
- What are your best tips and tricks for maintaining the health of your relationships? Share your wisdom in the comments!
- 7 Small But Significant Habits That Can Improve Your Relationship
- 8 Ways to Reconnect and Strengthen Your Relationship
- 7 Ways to Improve Connection in Your Relationship
- 1. Say ‘Thank You’ for Something Every Single Day
- 2. Give Your Partner Your Full Attention at Least Once Per Day
- 3. Be the First to Apologize for Your Role in Any Disconnect
- 4. Ask for a Hug
- 5. Tether Back to Your True Feelings of Love
- 6. Show More Compassion and Consideration for What Your Partner is Going Through
- 7. Lighten Up and Be More Playful
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- 6 smart rules to improve your relationship
7 Smart Ways to Improve Your Relationship With Your Spouse
How do you improve your relationship with your spouse? I want to share 7 tips you can use to improve your marriage relationship.
If you want to improve your relationship with your spouse, it is a very good thing to regularly look within yourself and ask yourself certain pertinent questions, such as whether you are a good spouse or not. If you are performing well as a spouse, you should know by the way your spouse reacts to you, and the number of complaints he or she makes to you about your behavior.
Find a quiet day, find a quiet place a deserted park or a school soccer field, sit down under trees, and spend time alone reflecting on whether you are making your spouse happy.
If you are treating your spouse well, you should know. If you are treating him or her well, come up with strategies you can use to maintain your good treatment of your spouse.
If you realize you are a lousy spouse, try to remember some of the things you think have not made you a worthy spouse.
What are some of the things you can do to correct those mistakes? For example, if you realize you find it difficult controlling your temper when you have arguments, think about what you can do to control yourself better.
If you discover that you treat your spouse in a condescending manner, then take steps to develop a humble attitude so that you can make your spouse happy.
This exercise should make you decide to become a better spouse, and that decision will motivate you to make efforts to make your spouse more comfortable in the relationship, which ultimately will lead to a better relationship.
It is a good thing to, from time to time, remember where you have come from as a couple, to know where you are now, and to decide together what you want your marriage to achieve in the long run.
It can help you to improve your relationship with your spouse because you will know where you fall short, and arm you with the knowledge you need to make the requisite changes to make the marriage work.
Plan this stock taking into your year’s program:
- At the beginning of every year, sit together at a table, preferably in your bedroom. Express your idea of how you can make the marriage better, resolve conflicts better, manage finances better ,treat your spouse better, improve your romantic and sex life etc., and let your spouse do the same.
- Discuss the ideas for clarification. For example, if your spouse is worried that you are a spendthrift, discuss concrete ways you can help him or her to curb their habit. This allows more attention to each individual idea, which will reassure both of you that your ideas are part of your frame of reference as a couple.
- Then one of you can write each idea on a piece of paper, until all are recorded.
- Then, take time to vote on the priority of the ideas; decide as a couple as to which idea is top priority. Write it at the top. Write the other ideas in order of their importance to you as a couple, to the least important at the bottom.
- Why should you go through this exercise? By voting to set priorities, you increase the chances of developing true couple decisions. You will both feel part of the decision making, and feel more obliged to try to make the decisions work.
- Let the list be a sort of contract between you, which you should seal with a passionate night of lovemaking that night.
- Later, have those ideas engraved on a wooden plaque, and place it in an advantageous place in your bedroom where you will see it every day. Every day, read it to remind yourself of the decisions you took. It will help you to keep the relationship going in the right direction.
Life can feel so frustrating at times when you are doing something and that thing is not going well. Even if it is going well, you sometimes get to a point where you feel stuck. It makes you feel so lonely, and sometimes you tend to forget that other people are also going through the same thing, and others have gone through what you are going through now.
There are great examples of people who have made a success of their marriage in your community, your church, or even in your workplace. Be humble enough to approach a few of such couples.
Try and get a number of them, about four or five different couples, to make time to get together with you and your spouse. Plan it as a tour—meet with them at different times over a period of time, let’s say over the space of one month.
This will help you to get different perspectives on how to improve your relationship from the different couples. This is one of the ways to improve your relationship with your spouse.
Meet with them, and ask questions as to how they have managed to stay together, how they manage to resolve conflicts, and how they manage to keep the love in the marriage.
There is an advantage to having such personal meetings. Such person-to-person contact is better than listening to the testimony of people on television or radio because of the personal touch involved here.
Seeing and feeling the successful couples in your presence will help you to pay closer attention to what they say, and to remember the lessons you learn.
It will also help you to have certain kinds of specific questions peculiar to your marriage, some of which you might not feel too comfortable asking in public, answered.
Such romantic learning tours can show you how methods other couples are using can lead to a better relationship for both of you. They will inspire and motivate you to want to improve your relationship.
Seeing people who are succeeding in their marriage, learning new methods of making your marriage work, and talking to those who are using them often, will convince you as a married couple of the value of those methods so that you will also want to use them.
Plan for these tours
You must plan such tours into your year’s program. Every year, during the Christmas holidays:
- Sit down as a couple and set aside some days in the next year on which you will go for these tours.
- It must become a part of your life as a couple, a continuous thing.
- Write down exactly what you want to learn each year. State these objectives before you go on the tours, to guide the kind of questions you will ask the couples.
Festivals are part of African culture. During these festivals, chiefs, the rulers in towns and villages, summon all the people to durbars, in order to foster unity among the people. There is drumming, dancing, and a renewing of their purpose to develop their communities. The people eat together, and play games such as draught, ludu, and soccer.
You might consider having festival days in your home to improve the relationship between you and your spouse. Set aside some Saturdays for this purpose. Cook a meal and eat it together slowly as you converse, in your garden. Get some African drums and African wear. Drum and dance and have fun around the house. Make it a fun day. Get a soccer ball, and kick it between yourselves.
This experience of something new will re-energize your relationship, breaking the monotony you are used to. It will help you draw closer as a couple, and help strengthen your marriage bond.
Eros, the romantic love of a man for a woman, or vice versa, comes naturally to everyone. But in addition to that kind of love, you must also develop agape love too, if you want the marriage to work. Agape is not a feeling of the heart; it is a determination of the mind, whereby you decide to have this unconquerable goodwill towards your spouse, even if he or she hurts and injures you.
When you make up your mind that you will not take to heart the insults, ridicule, and irritations that your spouse will throw your way, it ensures peace in the home. If you continue showing agape love, you will help to maintain the harmony in the relationship, and your love for each other will mature and grow.
Showing agape love does not come easy, though. You have to pray to God to give you a loving and forgiving heart.
Some people find it difficult to express their emotions. They choose to suppress their feelings, and restrict themselves from showing physical signs of affection, such as kissing in public, holding hands in public, and telling their spouse that they love them in front of other people.
Feel comfortable to show to others that you love your spouse. Express your feelings of love to your spouse without reservation in front of others. It will make him or her feel good and highly esteemed, and make your spouse happy as a consequence.
Also, some people are afraid to confront their spouse and discuss issues when they are hurt. They prefer to keep silent, but to brood.
If your spouse hurts you, you need to express yourself, instead of sweeping it under the carpet. Suppressing the emotion and brooding will only make you bitter, which will make you feel antagonistic towards your spouse, and this will erode trust between you and your spouse, and weaken the harmony in the relationship.
Improve your relationship with your spouse by remembering those who have passed on. Plan intentional visits to the cemetery in your town. Go together as a couple. Plan this into your monthly schedules. Go there, and think about the people who are dead, and reflect on the end of man.
This exercise with help you to value the fact that you are alive even more, and make you have a greater appreciation of the time you are privileged to have with your spouse, which is ly to motivate you to do your best to make your spouse happy, knowing that someday, which may be sooner or later, you will be parted by death.
The exercise will give you a deeper appreciation of the time you have together as a couple, and make you see each moment you have with your spouse as being precious, with the result that you will want to make each moment, and each day, a precious one for your spouse.
If you do not have the time to go to the cemetery, set aside days on which you can sit together, and remind yourself of friends and family members who the icy hands of death has snatched from you.
Let the memory of those people remind you that you are strangers and pilgrims on this Earth, and let it motivate you to resolve conflicts peacefully so that you will both have peace of mind to enjoy the relationship.
If you want to improve your relationship with your spouse, you must first look within, and then take the actions outlined above. If you do these things, in addition to taking trust seriously, you will not fall marriage, and your marriage will work.
© 2017 Isaac Yaw Asiedu Nunoofio
10 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Relationship
- Copy By:Christina Huynh
- Feature Image By:@josie.england
Whether you’ve been dating your partner for six months or have been married to him or her for five years, relationships are created from commitment and are continued due to mutual respect and effort. To say your connection is special would be an understatement — and to not wish to enhance it would be unfortunate.
While every relationship is different, no relationship is perfect. By doing these 10 things to improve your bond, you won’t only ensure a quality relationship with your partner, but you’ll also prove that you’re determined to work for one.
1. Ask your partner something new
Communication is the determining factor of success for every relationship. It’s nice to ask how your partner’s day went, but it’s boring when you ask over and over again.
Enhance your conversation by putting in the extra effort to question your significant other on something more specific.
Through this adjusted approach, you avoid falling into routine and begin holding more meaningful discussions.
2. Designate a monthly date night
Amongst both of your busy schedules and nonstop responsibilities, the most foolproof way to guarantee that you make time for each other is to set a night every month dedicated to doing just that.
Regardless of if you’re looking to spice up your relationship or wanting an activity that doesn’t include Netflix, the commitment to go on a date is one night — but the happiness that comes from it will last much longer.
3. Express your appreciation
The comfort that a relationship brings is the reason we tend to overlook what our partners do and treat their acts of kindness as our forms of expectation instead.
To put it honestly, your partner doesn’t have to fill your gas tank or buy your favorite ice cream — he or she chooses to, and your acknowledgment of this type of effort will reinforce your partner to be thoughtful and remind you to feel thankful.
4. Tweak your schedule
We know — you’re independent and don’t plan on stopping your life for anyone (and you shouldn’t have to). Even though you have other commitments outside of your relationship, it’s a kind gesture to compare both of your schedules to see if it’s possible to spend more time together.
Maybe your partner can go to the gym a little earlier to attend the movie premiere you wanted to attend, or maybe you can wake up earlier to get your projects done so that you can make it to your partner’s intramural game. While you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your life to satisfy your partner, your ability to compromise should be enough to make him or her happy.
5. Remember the small things
Another way to add meaning to your conversation is to truly listen to what your significant other is saying — and talk about it in the future.
If your partner mentions a conversation that he or she wants to have with a manager, take note on your calendar and remember to ask about it the day of. The fact that you’re able to refer back to the topics and details that your partner spoke about is one that will touch him or her.
Overall, it’s the little things that mean the most, and there’s no better way to show this than starting with your relationship.
6. Let go of the past
As a culprit for many potential arguments and the underlying issue for future ones, what happens in the past doesn’t always stay there — and it’s difficult to move forward in a relationship when you’re still thinking about what happened in it from another time.
If you find yourself continuing to dwell on the past, it might be a sign to take a step back and consider why — are you naturally less forgiving or is what happened something you can’t seem to forgive? By focusing on the reason for this reccuring feeling, you’ll find more clarity within yourself and what you want from the relationship with your partner.
7. Show your affection
Along with expressing your gratitude to your partner, expressing actions to show how much you care about him or her is also suggested. From grabbing your partner’s hand at a restaurant to going to bed together at the end of the night, you know how you feel about your partner, and he or she should be able to witness it as well.
8. Learn your partner’s boundaries
Does your partner wish to be left alone when he or she is upset? Does he or she mind that you want to text throughout the day? These questions are simple, but the answers to them will help you understand the boundaries of your partner — and stop you from crossing them. Overall, your partner’s sense of privacy is most ly different from yours, and knowing his or her boundaries is the best way to respect them.
9. Know when to apologize
Sometimes being right isn’t as important as being compassionate. Whereas conflicts with your significant other will vary, not every argument is a challenge that needs to be won.
Don’t get us wrong — we aren’t telling you to take blame for everything, but to decide which battles are worth fighting for.
Although there’s glory in knowing you’re right, there’s maturity in apologizing during an argument that isn’t as important as the person you’re arguing with.
10. Make time to focus on yourself
How we feel about ourselves is how we’ll act in a relationship — for example, if you lack confidence in yourself, you’ll look for assurance in your relationship.
To prevent any toxic behaviors from happening with your partner, it’s essential to have a strong sense of self. Invest in a new hobby, make plans with some friends, and take steps in discovering who you are as a person.
By falling in love with yourself, you’ll naturally be your own best version for the person who happens to be falling in love with you.
What are your best tips and tricks for maintaining the health of your relationships? Share your wisdom in the comments!
7 Small But Significant Habits That Can Improve Your Relationship
Elaborate romantic gestures and effusive Instagram posts aren’t necessary ingredients for a strong, happy relationship.
Rather, it’s the small, simple habits ― getting enough sleep and kissing hello and goodbye, for example ― that have a major, positive effect over time.
Below, marriage therapists reveal what you can do to make a big difference in your relationship.
We’re not at our best when we’re exhausted. Lack of sleep can leave us cranky, short-tempered and unable to focus. Conversely, getting sufficient rest ― when possible ― can improve our mood and overall well-being and, in turn, make us better, more loving partners.
“No matter what is going on in a relationship, sleep should be the number one priority, even over sex,” psychologist and sex therapist Shannon Chavez said. “Sleep is essential for good health. Being well rested and healthy is important for self and the partnership.”
What’s more, going to bed at the same time as your partner promotes intimacy and closeness. Those few minutes of togetherness before your heads hit the pillow offer a small window for bonding after a busy day apart. Plus, hitting the sheets at the same time opens up the opportunity for cuddling and/or sex.
Small, simple acts of kindness or thoughtfulness show your partner you care. No grand gestures necessary! It could be making your wife’s coffee in the morning, leaving a love note on the nightstand or surprising your husband with his favorite snacks.
“When both partners make the effort to do little intentional acts of kindness, particularly without prompting by Hallmark or a holiday telling you to do so, the caring multiplies throughout the relationship,” said Kurt Smith, a therapist who specializes in counseling men.
When we’re stuck in our routines, it’s easy to start taking the little things our partners do for us (or the kids, or around the house) for granted. Sometimes we forget to say thank you.
When we do remember, we offer a quick, “Thanks, babe” and move on with our day. But acknowledging what you’re grateful for specifically can be more effective.
“Highlight what you are showing appreciation for,” advised marriage and family therapist Spencer Northey. “As in, ‘Thank you for tidying the living room,’ or ‘I really appreciate you picking me up.
’ Praise helps your partner feel loved and appreciated, and labeling the praise lets your partner know that you notice the little things they are doing.
This also helps a person know exactly what you , so they can do more of it!”
The same applies to the positive things we often think about our spouses but don’t always say out loud.
“The next time you notice, ‘I really d the way you gave me that advice, it was helpful and you’re so smart,’ say it aloud,” said couples therapist Kari Carroll.
Physical touch is an important part of a romantic relationship. That doesn’t mean you need to get hot and heavy every time you see each other; little touches here and there will help keep the physical spark alive.
“If you put your hand on their arm when you greet or sit down with your partner, this will increase oxytocin and you will both experience a decrease in stress,” Carroll said. “It says, ‘I care about you’ and it shows vulnerability and openness.”
If you’re not already in the habit of hugging and kissing hello and goodbye, consider incorporating that into your daily routine. Most will probably be a quick squeeze or peck on the cheek. But renowned relationships researcher John Gottman recommends that couples share a kiss that lasts for six seconds or more at least once a day.
“He calls this creating a ‘kiss with possibilities,’” Northey said. “And, yes, to begin this habit you may have to start counting in your head 1-2-3-4-5-6 until you get into the rhythm. Making your kisses last reminds you that your partner is so much more than your roommate.”
Sometimes it stings to admit we’re wrong. But a genuine apology goes a long way toward mending your partner’s hurt feelings. (And FYI: “Sorry if you feel that way, but…” does not cut it.)
“Sorry has become a forgotten word today,” Smith said. “Acknowledging mistakes or regretful words is a huge component in keeping your relationship on track and moving forward.”
Psychotherapist Elisabeth J. LaMotte says her couples therapy clients have told her that one of the most useful tools they’ve learned in counseling is to ditch “you” statements and change them into “I” statements.
So what does that mean? Rather than telling your partner, “You obviously care more about your work than you do about me,” it might be more effective to say, “When you check your work email during date night, I feel lonely and disappointed.”
“This shift completely changes the narrative,” said LaMotte, founder of the DC Counseling and Psychotherapy Center. “It pitches to the best in the other person and it organically communicates that you are willing to make yourself vulnerable and take ownership of your part in the relationship. It takes some practice to get into the habit, but it is worth it.”
When life gets busy, it’s easy to get caught up in to-do lists, only giving attention to the most pressing matters of the day. But setting aside time for you and your partner to have intimate conversations ― not just about the grocery list and the kids’ math homework ― is essential.
“I can’t tell you how many couples I counsel who say they never have time to talk,” Smith said. “Obviously, they’re talking about who’s taking the kids to the dentist or soccer practice, but not about each other or their relationship. Most of us are so busy we have to put it on the calendar, and that’s OK, because what’s most important is that it happens.”
Also, regularly discussing finances ― that is, before some type of budget-related disaster occurs ― could prevent arguments or more unpleasant conversations down the line.
“Many partners don’t say anything about money until there’s a problem ― big credit card bill, spending they don’t approve of, bank account balance is low,” Smith said. “Money doesn’t have to always be a negative subject or a cause of conflict, but it will be when it’s avoided and only brought up in such circumstances.”
8 Ways to Reconnect and Strengthen Your Relationship
Make Your Relationship a Priority
After Greg and Priscilla Hunt said “I do” in 1976, Greg worked hard to master the grammar of an unfamiliar new language: marriage.
“I remember consciously shifting the way I talked, going from I and me to us and we,” says Hunt, now senior pastor at the First Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana.
“I was constantly rephrasing as I moved from thinking in individualistic terms to thinking of us as a couple.”
Nearly twice as many happy couples as unhappy twosomes made most decisions in their marriages jointly.
Getting to “we” seems a given for newlyweds: You’ve planned the wedding together, tied the knot in front of friends and family, earned the marriage license that proves the two of you are an official legal entity.
Yet experts say it’s important to make a concerted effort to heighten and reinforce this new sense of oneness — and then to guard and protect it.
“It’s so important that couples form their own new, separate union together,” says Claudia Arp, who with her husband, David, founded Marriage Alive International and co-authored marriage books including 10 Great Dates to Energize Your Marriage.
“But we see a lot of husbands and wives who never, ever reprioritize their relationship after marriage. They’re still entwined with their family of origin, putting their parents and siblings first. Or they’ve been on their own for years and don’t realize that their friends or job or other interests no longer take precedence.
You need to be able to say ‘My spouse comes first.’ Yes, you love and respect your parents. And you still get together with your friends. But this is your anchor relationship. If you establish this now, it will be easier to hold on to when life becomes more complicated later in your marriage.”
The mental shift from me to we can be startling: You can’t go home to your old apartment (or your childhood bedroom) anymore if you’re bored or angry or need quiet time. You can’t arrange a girls’ night out or a poker afternoon without factoring in your partner. You’re a team — and responsible to someone else in a new and profound way.
When University of Minnesota researcher David Olson, Ph.D., and his daughter Amy Olson-Sigg surveyed over 10,000 married couples, they found that togetherness was a top priority for 97 percent of happy couples but for only 28 percent of unhappy pairs.
Enjoying free time together was important to 97 percent of the happy group but only 43 percent of unhappy husbands and wives. Nearly twice as many happy couples as unhappy twosomes made most decisions in their marriages jointly.
And perhaps most telling of all: 81 percent of happy couples said their partners’ friends and family rarely interfered with the relationship, compared to just 38 percent of unhappy couples.
Establishing a healthy boundary around your union isn’t always easy: When University of California, Los Angeles, researchers interviewed 172 newlywed couples, problems with in-laws and other relatives ranked with communication, money management, and moodiness as top challenges.
“You really are forming a new system when you get married, and it needs care and feeding,” says marriage and sex therapist, Pat Love, Ed.D. “In our culture, we don’t do ‘we’ very well. We’re better at autonomy: I can take care of myself, I can give to you.
But being a real unit means taking another step: making the relationship itself a priority. Other cultures do this much better — the Japanese have a concept called amae, which loosely translated means the delicious experience of interdependence.
It’s a goal worth striving for.”
The first step for newlyweds? Revel in your exclusivity. You want to be together, just the two of you, so give yourselves permission to cocoon. Then try these couple-building tips.
Create couples rituals. Do something regularly that bonds you, such as 10 minutes to chat before bed, always having morning coffee together, or saving Saturday for date night.
Institute a daily check-in. Marriage experts recommend couples do something that big business has employed for decades to keep workers happy, productive, and in the loop: hold regular team meetings. Luckily, yours will be more fun than listening to Bob from accounting go over the last month’s sales numbers.
One version of the daily check-in helps couples keep communication flowing freely with an agenda.
- Start by appreciating something about each other.
- Offer up some new information from your day.
- Ask your spouse about something that has bothered or puzzled you (or something about yourself).
- Make a nonjudgmental, complaint-free request (“Please fold the towels when you do the laundry. I couldn’t find any this morning after my shower.”)
- And end with a hope that could be small (“I hope we can go see that new movie Friday night”) or lavish (“I’d love to retire at age 50 and sail the Mediterranean with you.”)
Ask: Is it good for our relationship? When you bump up against any important decision in your marriage, don’t just talk about whether it’s good for you and for your spouse. Make it a point to talk about and think about whether it’s good for your marriage.
“You’ll know the answer almost intuitively if you stop and ponder it,” Dr. Love notes.
This may come down to how much time something will take away from your time together, whether it will make things stressful between you, or if it involves people who in some way threaten your relationship (lunch with your ex, for example).
If you don’t even want to ask the question, that’s a red flag that whatever it is — from working late to “surprising” your spouse with an expensive new living room sofa to making individual plans on your usual date night — isn’t going to be good for your marriage.
Build healthy boundaries. Marriages need what experts call a semi-permeable boundary that allows friends and family to connect with you but that doesn’t interfere with your own desires and plans. This can be especially complicated when it comes to your families of origin.
The biggest challenge is often deciding how you’ll handle the holidays.
Will it be his family’s house for Thanksgiving, yours for Christmas? Yours for Rosh Hashanah, his for the Passover Seder? Or will you start a new tradition in your own home? How often will you talk on the phone — and how much will you share about the details of your marriage? If in-laws are nearby, decide how often you’ll visit — and when you’ll be at home to receive family visitors. Some parents and siblings respect a new couple’s needs; others may need gentle reminders. “Parents can work with or against a new couple,” Claudia Arp says. “They need to be getting on with their own marriage, going from being child-focused to partner-focused. Your marriage can be a transition time for them as well. Don’t cut them off — you really need that love and support. Do communicate your decisions about your needs in a kind, calm way.”
Cheer each other on. “One of the most important things to me is that my wife, Rebecca, is for me and I’m for her,” says Lee Potts, a retired computer programmer from St. Louis, Missouri. “It sounds simplistic, but it’s really important.
I’ve been married twice before, and I don’t think we had each other’s best interests at heart this. We had our own agendas.” Arp suggests that encouraging your partner is one of the most important things you can do for your relationship.
“If we don’t, who will? Our bosses and co-workers? Don’t count on it! Our children and teenagers? Ridiculous!” she says. “Our mates need our encouragement.
” Three strategies she and her husband recommend in their workshops: Look for the positive in your new spouse; develop a sense of humor; and give honest, specific praise — describe what you appreciate about your spouse.
Schedule time for your marriage first. Don’t relegate your relationship to scraps of leftover time. “In mapping out your schedule for the next several weeks, why not start with writing in date times for you and your mate?” suggest Claudia and David Arp. “Then add discretionary things golf, shopping, and community volunteer activities.”
No time? Wonder why? Do a calendar review.
You’re overcommitted if friends, visits with your parents and extended family, hobbies, clocking overtime hours on the job, or volunteer and community commitments have crowded out the three kinds of time you need with your beloved: casual catching-up, scheduled dates, and intimate encounters. Same goes if your evenings are TV marathons or Internet extravaganzas. “Unless you’re willing to make your relationship a higher priority than other relationships and activities, you won’t have a growing marriage,” notes Claudia Arp.
Disconnect from the 24/7 office.
Push the “off” button! Heavy use of cell phones and pagers, BlackBerry devices, and high-tech walkie-talkies — the little gizmos that keep us connected with family, friends, and the office 24/7 — can mute your happiness and dial up stress in your home, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee researchers found recently.
The study tracked the technology use and moods of 1,367 women and men for two years. Those who sent and received the most calls and messages were also most ly to say that this “work spillover” left them tired and distracted at home.
“Technology is really blurring the lines between home and work,” says lead researcher Noelle Chesley, an assistant professor of sociology at the university. “That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It may give you more flexibility. But your boss doesn’t tend to call you with the good news — you don’t hear that you’ve done a great job on the project; you do hear that suddenly there’s a deadline crisis.”
Setting limits could lift on-call stress: Talk with your boss or your company’s human resources department if work calls are burning you out. Check e-mail once in the evening. If a call’s not urgent, muster the courage to say, “I’ll look into it first thing in the morning.” And simply turn off your cell phone at a certain time in the evening (same goes for the laptop). Ahhh … quiet.
Create a code word for love. Remember the elementary school joke about “olive juice” — say this silly phrase, and your mouth automatically makes the same movements as when you say “I love you.
” Find a secret way to express your love that only the two of you understand. It comes in handy if your spouse calls when the boss is standing beside your desk, and creates that “just us” feeling anytime you use it.
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7 Ways to Improve Connection in Your Relationship
THIS is what you must repair FIRST to heal your relationship.
Have you ever felt 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.
20 Things You MUST Accept For Your Relationship To Succeed
So, what’s really going on here?
We all know that often, with time, intimacy fades between a couple. Passion begins to disappear. Eventually feelings of togetherness and genuine affection can morph into bitterness and resentment. Obviously, you don’t want any of this to happen in your relationship.
To resolve these issues, couples usually talk to each other about their disagreements, conflicts and misunderstandings, each sharing her or his point of view. But, instead of connection, these conversations often lead to increased feelings of contempt (which is the number one predictor of divorce, according to 40 years of research by Dr. John Gottman).
The truth is, talking about disconnect in the relationship doesn’t create or sustain feelings of affection. This is why so many couples who go through traditional couples counseling only feel MORE distant from each other afterward.
Why? Because “lack of communication” is not your problem. The REAL issue is a lack of…connection! And that magical connection between a couple is the glue that holds everything else together. Lose that connection and:
- Intimacy and passion fade
- Fights and conflicts increase
- Feelings of separateness take over
Basically, you can work on your ‘communication skills’ all you want, but until you actively repair connection, your relationship problems will ly get worse.
So, how do you increase that feeling of connection between you and your partner, and make sustaining it a priority? First, forget fixing any specific aspect of the relationship for now. That can wait. For now, only do what increases and reinforces a sense of connection between you and your partner.
Here are seven powerful ways to get started:
1. 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.”
2. Give Your Partner Your Full Attention at Least Once Per Day
Do this without looking at your 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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 ? Share this with him, speaking from your heart, without asking your partner to do or say anything in response.
10 Things An 82-Year-Old Stranger On A Plane Taught Me About Love
6. Show More Compassion and Consideration for What Your Partner is Going Through
A little kindness really does go a long way. You have no idea about the stress that replays itself in your partner’s mind. So, try to understand what’s going on for her and show a little warmth.
7. Lighten Up and Be More Playful
Most disagreements and misunderstandings are little things that get blown proportion. Keep matters in perspective, find something to laugh about together and let a little fun cut the tension. There is no value in holding grudges.
When you focus on affection, togetherness, genuine feelings of caring, physical touch, and heart-felt appreciation towards your partner, almost any relationship repair is possible. Strong communication skills are valuable, but only once healthy connection is in place.
This guest article originally appeared on YourTango.com: Why ‘Improving Communication’ Often Makes Couples Fight Even MORE.
7 Ways to Improve Connection in Your Relationship
6 smart rules to improve your relationship
These days, more and more couples are seeking premarital counseling and taking steps to safeguard their marriage.
What can they do to help secure their relationships? In this month’s “Cosmopolitan” magazine, “22 Best Relationship Tips Ever” covers everything from communication to intimacy to sex. Kate White, Cosmo’s editor-in-chief, and Dr.
Dale Atkins, author of “Sanity Savers: Tips for Women to Lead a Balanced Life,” expound on six specific rules below:
Why do couples seek counseling now more than before?
Kate: People are aware today as they go into relationships that it's not necessarily going to be “happily ever after.” You just have to look around and see that a good percentage of relationships end in divorce, so people don't have a fatalistic sense, but certainly they are not naive either.
I think there is a combination of things. Marriage is trickier because we have a lot of changes in the roles couples play today. We definitely see that with guys for the first time. A fairly high percentage of men make less than their wives. The roles have changed, and that adds a certain craziness to it.
We also have a huge percentage of readers who want a soul mate. There was a point in time when you thought that your girlfriends would provide one thing, you mom would provide another, and that now we expect our spouses to be our best friends, and our providers and our lovers.
Dale: People are finding that they are facing challenges they don't know how to handle, and there are not a lot of really good models around. Marriage is more challenging today because people are so busy and not dedicating their time and attention to their spouse and relationship. People also don't understand that marriage is work. It takes energy.
1. Change it up
Act character — you can easily get into ruts. If you find that you are repeating patterns, step back and break it up. Be somewhat still unknown to each other. After all, if you are BFF, soul mates, know each other ” the back of my hand,” what fun and mystery is that? You want to know there will be surprises. We are hardwired as humans to mystery and be intrigued by it. There is a juiciness and an excitement that come from not knowing. When you first get a crush on someone, the thrill is in not knowing if he will be there, if he is going to call, the unknown — it's delicious.
Dale: You have to put energy into it because you want to grow with the person. Everybody changes. You have to put your best stuff out there and share it with your partner. Too often, people put their best selves out there to their work colleagues or to their friends, but then they are at home in their sweats.
People don't have to walk around at home in high heels and makeup, but they should be conscious of being present and being in good shape and looking great for your spouse. Make sure that all of these parts of yourself are accessible to your mate.
If you give it all at the office but are a pain in the ass at home, no one wants to be with you.
2. Talk it out
Sometimes we have to learn different communication skills than we know. What works with one boyfriend certainly doesn't work with another. You have to alter your communication for what works best with this person and this relationship.
I don't know if you can come right out and say to a guy, “Look, we are going to take turns talking.” But you can give him a chance to open up and then turn the tables a little bit. Maybe you say something , “That makes a lot of sense, something that happened to me,” and then share your own revelation.
It's also important when communicating to echo each other. A lot of times when you are in a relationship for a few years, you are multitasking when you are talking. You may be throwing dinner together, packing a school lunch.
So when you are really talking together, a great technique is to repeat what he says. If he is talking about a guy at work that came storming in and accused him of something, tell him, “That must have been really rattling.
” It validates his emotion and also says, I am listening!!
Dale: It's understandable that if you didn't have a good model growing up, you will have to learn how to communicate better. One thing you want to communicate is what you appreciate about your spouse. You have to compliment them from your heart.
It also makes sense that if someone is only criticized; they are not going to want to listen. Communication is also not just talking. It's nurturing the relationship with thoughts, with words, with eye movement, with facial expression … so be conscious of how you are communicating in every manner.
left/msnbc/Sections/TVNews/Today show/Today Relationships/2007/October/Cosmo-Nov07.jpg2960129000left#000000http://msnbcmedia.msn.com1Pfalsefalse3. Be tolerant
One thing that is so great to do is to turn over and flip the things you don't . If you hate the fact that he shouts at the TV, the flip side is that he is a passionate person about you and the kids. Try and find the upside, or go back and think about all the positives you saw in him.
Dale: Everybody has their stuff and you have yours, too. If you only focus on the bad things, you really are going to be unhappy. You have to understand that you are not going to change anybody. As long as no one is devaluing you or treating you badly, then you have to be tolerant.
And if they are devaluing you, you need to change your attitude and not stand for it. If it is demeaning, then you have to say, “I know what you want, but the way you are asking me or demanding it of me is not something I am going to be able to respond to.” You have to tolerate what is not intolerable, but you didn't marry the person to change them.
4. It takes time
Women sometimes feel that it's unromantic if you have to make time for sex. But it's important. You still have to schedule time for it. Cuddling is not enough, even if you have a good feeling in your relationship.
And in this day and age, it's important to call a time-out on technology. You need to have periods at night where it's just off-limits. Even if your boss has to track you down, you need to let it go and just focus on your partner.
Dale: So many of the couples I see have intrusions in their relationships. It's typically kids and ill parents, but now it's mostly technology.
People develop online relationships with work mates or friends, but so many people are making choices to IM and are on BlackBerry, which is time they could be using to connect with their partners.
We have the capacity to connect with hundreds of people at a moment's notice, but what does that do to a primary relationship? You have to say there is a BlackBerry-free zone or time, or go out for the night and leave the phones at home.
We have become very addicted to this. And if you do send a BlackBerry message, you expect one right back. And then if you don't get it, you think you are being dissed.
We also do have to make time for sex. With people commuting and working so hard and being so stressed, it's hard to keep that high up there on the list.
But it is essential to be sexual, and it just reminds you of another connection you have to that person that no other person has, that is uniquely yours. You don't want it to go by the wayside.
You determine aspects of each other during sexual intimacy that you don't see in other ways.
Sometimes inertia takes over but what you want to do is keep working at it and trying to be sensuous.
Even if you don't have sex, keep touching, keep being playful and remind each other what it's to be aroused. And take off those flannel pajamas — it's very important to be skin to skin.
There doesn't have to be mad sexual passion all the time, there just has to be connection.
5. Continue the courtship
You need to do the things that you loved when you first met: go to galleries, take long walks. It's the little things, the token gestures, the ways that you show them that you know them THAT well.
And you have to have nice dates — it cannot just be Olive Garden and a movie.
Dale: Think about what made it unique when you were first together. There was a sexual connection; you had pet names, inside jokes.
One of the things about being a couple is that you share a history, so you can say, remember this song or when we danced. You want to create new memories and also go back to the old ones, the gentle connection that you had.
Remember that you really ARE invested in each other — you have a commitment. Those are things that help couples stay connected.
6. Steer clear
Realize that the louder you get doesn't mean that you'll be listened to more. Pay attention to what doesn't work with your partner and don't repeat those things.
Money matters frequently blow up for people — it's important to think about these things and work them out.
Some couples pride themselves on never arguing, but that is not healthy. Everyone has issues and if you are not arguing, you are probably not addressing them.
Don't expect him to read your mind. Give him hints. There is nothing wrong with that. Tell him what you want when you want it. If you want sappy on Valentine's Day… if you want a party for your birthday… earrings for Christmas. You have to tell him so that you get what you want.
Dale: Make sure you don't avoid the difficult stuff — you have to find a way to talk about everything. Don't put the other person down, don't belittle them. You have to talk about the big things …
the kids' school, or how much money to spend on a vacation, or who will take care of your aging mother, or who is paying bills for a drug-addicted cousin; you have to talk about them.
If you don't, these issues just get bigger and bigger, so you must find ways to talk about difficult topics.
Also, don't blame, don't punish, don't use past mistakes to harp on your partner.
And the biggest mistake is in not sharing your deepest self. This is why people have office romances. They think the other person understands them. But it's really you shutting down and not sharing inner thoughts and feelings with the person you have committed to share your life with. Chances are you might be having a bad patch, and you want to get back into it.
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For more great relationship tips and information, visit Cosmopolitan online.
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