Being Fully Present in Your Relationship

MINDFULNESS-RELATIONSHIPS

Being Fully Present in Your Relationship

When we get used to being with our partner we can sometimes take them for granted. We assume they’ll always be there. So we move on to our worries and stresses. We become so preoccupied with the kids or the challenges in our career that when we are eating dinner and trying to take part in meaningful dialogue, we aren’t even there. Then there is the constant distraction of our electronic devices that although convenient also become an obstacle to chitchat, discussion and intimate conversation. After a while without meaningful interaction we start to feel like roommates with our partner or spouse rather than lovers. The day-in, day-out decisions of running the household, parenting and paying the bills become the focus, and otherwise each person lives in their own separate bubble. When it comes time to interact, give your partner your undivided attention. When we aren’t fully present we aren’t showing them the love and respect they deserve. Instead, we are neglectful, albeit not on purpose. But the message we are inadvertently sending is that what is on my mind is more important than you. Misunderstandings arise when we don’t listen fully to our partner. This can lead to problems or even terrible fights. So how can we be more present with our partner?

First, make a conscious effort to focus on them and what they are saying. If there is something particularly important on your mind and you are distracted, tell them about it. Let them know how you feel and schedule another time to talk. Try and give them your undivided attention and expect the same in return. Make positive eye contact. Repeat back what they’ve said in your own words to show that you understand. When your partner or spouse seems distracted, don’t tell them or remind them of something. Wait until you have their full attention. If you are distracted and they told you something, don’t assume that they will remind you. It’s best to check with your partner in a positive manner whenever you are unsure. Regular running of the household exchanges are of course important. But they don’t help build intimacy. You two have to make time to talk on a deeper level. At the end of the day, we may be so exhausted that we just want to watch a couple of TV shows or surf the net, check our social media pages and go to bed. But that doesn’t bring you closer. Instead, clear out a little time each day to spend talking on a deeper level.  Not just, “How was your day?” But what really happened to you today? What were you thinking about? How did it make you feel?

Sometimes you have to leave the dishes in the sink or put off laundry and spend a little couple time together. Some experts say having more sex is the answer. But a recent study found that building intimacy is far more important. When miscommunication, unfulfilled expectations and misunderstandings occur they get in the way of real intimacy, and so not only block your connection but your ability to get physical. Hurt feelings get in the way. When we are fully present with our partner, the chances of miscommunication and misunderstandings are lower. Knowing what they expect will help meet or exceed expectations and vice-versa. Mindfulness is a touchstone nowadays. This is an ancient Buddhist practice that has become trendy lately in the West. This is the art of being fully present in the here and now and appreciating each moment in all its richness. If we could practice mindfulness in our relationships they would be so much more intimate. Couples would have a deeper sense of intimacy, better sex and superior communication too. To learn more pick up a copy of, The Mindful Couple: How Acceptance and Mindfulness Can Lead You to the Love You Want by Robyn D. Walser, Ph.D. and Darrah Westrup, Ph.D.

Positive Statements to Empower your Spouse

HAPPY-COUPLE

Positive Statements to Empower your Spouse

The best relationships are based on mutual trust, respect, love, physical and emotional chemistry and crystal clear communication. Of course, none of us survive in a vacuum and relationships will have to weather difficulties, both from without and from within, from the emotional baggage you, your partner and everyone carries with them. That said there are positive statements you can make to empower your spouse, who will then be rejuvenated and will empower you, creating a virtuous cycle that you can both benefit from. Instead of tearing each other down like some toxic relationships do, learn to boost each other up.

These aren’t things you say if you don’t believe them. Make sure these statements are true for your situation, and that you sincerely put them across, or else they won’t work but will in fact sound flat, passive-aggressive, even discouraging. Here are some things you can say all the time to let them know how you feel about them, and give them a little ego boost at the same time. First, when they do something for you, or around the house should you cohabitate, show your appreciation. Don’t just make a blanket statement like “I appreciate you.” Tell them “Thanks for doing the dishes” or whatever they specifically did. “Thanks for hearing me out. You gave me great advice on what to say to my boss about working overtime.” No one feels better than when they are appreciated. And they will return to favor, giving you a little boost. You are also encouraging them to continue this positive behavior.

Let your spouse know that he or she is your priority. This is difficult for some people to do. A lot of married couples invest the majority of their energy in their children or their career. But when it comes time to focus on their spouse, they come up lacking. This lack of focus, attention and love makes a marriage wither and die. Instead, cultivate a strong, healthy, robust relationship. Organize your work time carefully, make sure the children spend some time with your folks or the in-laws to give you two time alone, and make your marriage the number one priority in your life. Let your spouse know how happy you are that you married them. After a few years a marriage gets to feel like an old blanket. It’s warm and comfortable. But it’s also taken for granted. Don’t take each other for granted. Renew intimacy, romance, and care for one another and your relationship will deepen and develop further.  When they look good, notice and say so. Let them know when their outfit looks good, how their smile lights up the room, and how it takes your breath away when they dress up. Let your spouse know that you aren’t going anywhere. Let them know you will always love them and be there for them. You need to make them feel secure, supported and deeply loved. Make sure to continually show your trust, love, fondness and appreciation for your spouse and you will have a long, happy, healthy and well-adjusted marriage. For more advice read, Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You Can Make Yours Last by John Gottman, Ph.D.

Using HEAL to Restore Trust

HEAL

Using HEAL to Restore Trust

A loving, supportive romantic relationship is one of the biggest joys in life. But it can also be a source of regret, guilt, anger, resentment and sorrow. We learn all about weddings and courtship as children and teens. But we really don’t learn much about how to make marriage work. This is reflected in the divorce rate. The latest is 41% for first marriages and 60% for second ones. Life’s stresses and having different expectations for things can railroad even the best of relationships. Something else that weighs heavily on a relationship is a phenomenon called “attachment injuries.” This is when a particularly stressful or painful event arises in our life and we need our partner to comfort us but they aren’t available either physically or emotionally. This leads to resentment and suppressed anger. Therapist Dr. Melanie Greenberg has come up with a certain type of therapy to counteract these issues and get relationships back on track. It’s called HEAL, an acronym standing for Hear, Empathize, Act, Love. It exchanges self-protecting behavior with reconnecting, loving, and compassionate behavior.

First you have to listen actively to your partner. Consciously take down your defenses and open up your heart to them. Look at their facial expressions, body language, register their tone. What else are they saying with these nonverbal cues? How are they really feeling? Are they actually expressing some sort of need that isn’t currently being met? Companionship, understanding, control, and love are all needs that perhaps are going unfulfilled. The best way to calm your significant other is to really listen, find out what need isn’t being met, and be open to changing and working hard to meet their need. Next, empathize with your partner. Realize what it’s like from their point of view. Feel what they are feeling and let it come over you. Sometimes one emotion such as anger resides at the surface, but is put there by another emotion lingering underneath, perhaps frustration, loneliness or feeling that you aren’t in control of your own life. Sometimes there is a deeper reason. But sometimes your partner just needs validation and compassion. Oftentimes these two are enough to quell the problem. The next step is act. Talk with your partner and find out what needs to be done or what you need to change in order to meet their needs. Finally, love. Feel love for the person and express it unconditionally. If your relationship has trust issues, restore it with HEAL.  For more advice read, I Love You But I Don’t Trust You: The Complete Guide to Restoring Trust in Your Relationship by Mira Kirshenbaum.

Make him Feel Manly

dinner

Make him Feel Manly

We all know that women need validation. She needs to feel beautiful, valued, respected and desired. But what about the man? Of course he needs validation too. And the smart wife and girlfriend pumps up her man’s ego. The one who wants to get dumped emasculates him. But how do you make him feel manly and give him the validation he needs?  First, attend office functions with him. Dress up and charm everyone there. Lift him up and help him figure out the social dynamic and get ahead. In a restaurant, ask him to order for you, if you trust him to do so. Praise him when the meal is amazing, and about how well he knows you.

Send him a flirty or steamy text every once in a while. Let him know how desirable he is. Write him a little love note and put it in his jacket pocket, backpack or brief case.  Brag about him to your girlfriends, when he gives you something you want to brag about, even better, brag about him to his friends, or his family. Give him a massage when you know he’s sore or stressed. Make him his favorite drink. Surprise him with his favorite meal or take him to his favorite restaurant. Don’t nit-pick when driving. Give him some slack. Ask his advice whenever you are making a big decision in your life and thank him for his advice.

Let him help you with something around the house, fix something, move something, it can be something small, even opening a jar. Then praise him. Show appreciation for him when he helps you. Let him pick an action flick or thriller for movie night every once in a while, and show enthusiasm for it. If he’s into a particular sports team, watch a game with him. Take him to a local game, and be excited about it. If he’s into the outdoors, take him away for a surprise weekend getaway skiing, surfing, off road biking, camping or whatever he’s into.

If he’s into cars take him to a local car show when it comes around. Go to the car dealership and pretend you are shopping for a car, and test drive that new ride he’s been eye balling. Why not rent a muscle car for the weekend? If he’s into history take him to a reenactment or a museum. Buy him interesting books as little gifts, or videos or even documentaries. If he’s into barbecue or chili, go to the local chili cook off. Why not cook chili together? Surprise him with a trip to the local barbecue restaurant. Buy him a barbecue dry rub or sauce sampler for him to try. Find out what manly things your guy does and show him how much you care, and validate his masculinity all at the same time. For more advice read, Keep Your Man: Seven Ways to His Happiness by Angelina G. Bell.

Asking out a Girl in Karate Class

stretching

Asking out a Girl in Karate Class

Do you take karate or some other marital arts class that’s co-ed? Is there a girl in that class that you have a crush on? It may feel awkward to try to hit on someone who can see you fall on the mat, have trouble mastering techniques, even a girl who is ahead of you or has a higher belt than you. But the truth is you can flirt with her, chat her up and even ask her out.  It doesn’t matter if she’s at a higher level than you. First, determine how long you’ve known this girl. What exactly is the situation? Do you know her outside of class or just in class? Have you known her long or have you just met her?

If you know her outside of class, find instances to chat with her. Talk about karate. Ask her questions like why is she interested in it? Has she been taking karate long and so on? Ask her the same questions if she is only in your class. If you have known her long, make sure you are not in the friend’s zone. Once a girl puts you in this place it can be very difficult, if not impossible to get out again. Show up early and warm up. See if she comes early too. If so, why not offer to warm up together? Make small talk. Ask her about herself. Stay late and work on you techniques or take some time to cool down. Ask her if she’d like to do the same.

There are lots of chances to get close to her. If you’ve noticed that she’s mastered a technique, tell her that you’ve been having some trouble with it and ask if she’d like to show you how to do it. Try to sidle up to her and be her partner when practicing techniques. Make little jokes while you practice together. Take karate seriously though. Stay focused. You don’t want her to think you are sacrificing karate, or only taking it to get close to her. Practicing karate together when you are just getting to know each other is great. You can break the ice more easily because you have some common ground to work with. You can also break the touch barrier more easily, in class during practice, and enter her personal space more easily, which if maneuvered correctly can be a great chance at flirting, or staving off the friend zone. If she’s a very serious student, flirt or joke with her lightly during class. If you go a little too hard she will be turned off by it. Instead, show that you have as much focus and drive as she does.

A little light flirting before or after class or when she is your partner is a great way to make your intentions known and feel her out for reciprocity. Keep it light and casual. If she’s behind you perhaps you can impress her with your superior karate skills. If she’s ahead of you however woo her in other ways. Show her your personality including how charming you are, your great sense of humor, that you don’t give up and other positive character traits. Show her that it doesn’t bother you that she’s great in karate. In fact, cheer her on. Make sure you don’t hang on too long. Ask her out, or for her number before you enter the friend’s zone. But feel her out for interest first. Don’t move forward if you haven’t a chance. Karate class will be awkward from then on otherwise. But if you have a chance, go for it. For more advice read, How to Connect With a Girl: Deepen the Interaction to Get Her Even More Interested by Jordan Amit.