Couples without Children are Happier

happy-couple

Couples without Children are Happier

Those couples who are most blissful are childless, according to research out of Open University in the U.K. The study, entitled “Enduring Love?” found that couples without children, whether married or unmarried, were far more satisfied with life in general and felt considerably more appreciated by their partner than their counterparts. Parents who cohabitated but weren’t married were a little happier than those that were married. Over 5,000 people of all backgrounds in long term relationships were studied. Surprisingly, mothers were the happiest group while women without children were the unhappiest.

Having children did affect intimacy among partners. Fathers were 50% more likely to claim that lack of physical love was the biggest problem in their relationships. Meanwhile, mothers stated that they wanted to experience physical intimacy less often than their partners. This study found that showing appreciation for your partner was one of the biggest factors in making a marriage fulfilling. Giving compliments, thanking one another and other seemingly minor gestures added up to a lot. The takeaway here is that when a couple starts taking each other for granted, things go downhill fast. But if they constantly renew their love, commitment, fondness and appreciation for one another, their relationship will remain strong, sturdy, healthy and fulfilling.

The British library will soon release the results of this study. If you are a couple with children, or planning to have children, don’t let this study upset you. Instead, make plans on how you will find time to invest in your relationship. Perhaps have a date night where a sitter comes over or you leave the kids with the in-laws. If you know other couples with kids, watch their children on their date night and they can watch yours on theirs. Write each other little notes or texts at least once per day. Make it a point to spend some time chatting together, enjoying each other’s company without having to fulfill some chore. Thank one another for what they do, whether it’s their assigned job or chore, or not.

The real takeaway is that just because you have children doesn’t mean you should take one another for granted. In fact, it’s more important that you show how grateful you are that that person is in your life, loving you, supporting you and standing by you. Show them how much you care, a little each day and they will reciprocate. For more advice read, The 2 Minute Marriage Project: Simple Secrets for Staying in Love by Heidi Poleman.

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.

Meeting your Partner’s Needs While Getting Yours Met

THOUGHTFUL-COUPLE

Meeting your Partner’s Needs While Getting Yours Met

Everyone has needs. And if you are in a long term relationship you realize that it’s transactional as much as it’s interactional. We have emotional, sexual, and physical needs such as hugging and cuddling, spiritual, financial and social needs too. There are eight elements in all. When a relationship is doing well the two interact in these realms meeting each other’s needs in full measure. There’s no holding back, no splurging. If they’re lucky there is an “element equation” or a surplus on the part of both partners. If there is an imbalance, the couple can choose to acknowledge it, discuss it and work through the problem. A deficit in emotional availability could by tackled by telling one partner that they aren’t feeling their full presence in the relationship. Instead of reacting, the other partner would agree to discuss it at a certain time. Both parties could then come up with solutions on when the best time is to discuss their feelings, say at a meeting once per week or something like that.

So how do you work on meeting your partner’s needs while getting yours met? First you need to recognize the imbalance. Something doesn’t feel right. Define the problem. Talk about it with yourself. Investigate. Is one person overspending or the other holding back? Where is this imbalance coming from? Next, find the proper words to address the problem. Bring it up with your partner and find an appropriate time to discuss it. The key is open and honest communication, without ego or blame stepping into it. Both parties have to communicate effectively, honestly, and from a point of respect toward their partner. Nothing is solved by screaming matches or finger pointing sessions. But the couple who can have a calm, cool discussion and come up with concrete solutions enjoys the strongest and happiest type of relationship. Find out the reason of the withholding or the overspending. Is there some guilt or feeling of inadequacy? Why does your partner feel this way? It’s important to validate their responses. Always begin from a place of wellness. Make your partner understand that you care about your relationship and want it to be healthy. Let them know that you are invested in them and invested in “us.” For more advice read, The Rules of Love: A Personal Code for Happier, More Fulfilling Relationships by Richard Templar.

Show you care no Matter What Day it is

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Show you care no Matter What Day it is

So Valentine’s Day has come and gone. Some people love it for a chance to cherish their loved one. Others hate the commercial Hallmark holiday aspect. Still others don’t want to be reminded of being single. But the truth is that we shouldn’t need a holiday to remind us how much we love that special someone in our life. In fact, if you are only using that particular holiday to show how much you care for one another, you will soon be seeing less Valentine’s Days, at least with that particular person.

Show you care no matter what day it is. If you keep feeling and showing your gratitude toward your romantic partner in words and gestures, they will return the favor. A virtuous cycle will be created that will sustain and enrich your love and relationship for as long as the two of you keep it up. Here are some ways to display the tempest of passion that lies deep in your heart. If your lover works in the service industry, whether a barista, a waiter or waitress, or tending bar, go in, flirt with them and leave a little tip. You can’t imagine what fun this will be, especially if your lover’s coworkers don’t know you.

Always hold the door open no matter what sex your lover is. If you don’t cohabitate but you do run errands together, pay for their groceries, especially if they have been struggling to make ends meet. If you do cohabitate pay something extra just to say I love you. When you are out and about running errands, buy them their favorite candy, or a little toy that reminds you of them. For an added bonus hide it somewhere in the house and let them find it unexpectedly. Whenever you notice a change in clothes or hairstyle, notice it and comment on it. Ladies, guys like it when you notice and compliment too. It’s not just for women. Call your sweetie at lunch or in the middle of the day just to see how their day is going. Tell them you couldn’t stop thinking about them. If the mood strikes you say something dirty, or just flirt with them. Make something for them, a knit scarf, a painting, a poem, a song, a tchotchke; make it from the heart. Something you made will always be worth more because of the talent, time and care you put into it. Make them their favorite meal, or surprise them with a dinner out on the town. There are lots of ways to show that special someone in your life how much you care. For more advice read, 31 Days to Build a Better Relationship by Clinton Power.

Find out What Kind of Guy he really is

lunch

Find out What Kind of Guy he really is

Manipulation is always thought of as a negative thing. The truth of the matter is that we manipulate each other all of the time. We sweet talk the boss into giving us more time on a task. We try and convince the cop not to give us a ticket even though we know we were speeding. We try to get our roommate to do our chores when we are short on time and high on assignments. The point is that finding out how people tick and using it to your advantage is fine, depending upon your intention and if it hurts the person in the end.

Of course you shouldn’t be callous and mean. No one should manipulate someone into a bad position just so they can rise in consequence. But there are normal interactions between people that can be looked at as manipulation that are really okay, like when a girl decides that she’d like to be settling down. You don’t want to waste time dating guys where the relationship isn’t going anywhere. Nor do you want to get emotionally invested in someone who will end up letting you down. Instead, here are some things you can do to find out what kind of guy he really is.

Not on the first date, but early in the relationship if you want to see if he’s a male chauvinist or insecure, wear heels. When you are tall and sexy and sticking out, he’ll have to deal with you. Watch how he takes it. If he’s laid back, cool, confident and aloof, he wins points. When he thinks he’s going to get lucky, play sick and see how he reacts. Does he get angry? Does he leave? Or does he try to take care of you or offer to keep you company? One trick some women try is to elicit the help of her sexiest girlfriend. She sends her out there to try to pick up her boyfriend. If he goes for it then he isn’t the one for you. The disadvantage to this strategy is that many a girl gets dumped by both her boyfriend and her friend, who end up together. So watch how that one might play out.

Fake a catastrophe in your life and see how he reacts. Does he back away or offer to help? If he’s really into you he will do anything to help you. But if he isn’t so emotionally invested he will make an excuse and get out of there. This separates the players from boyfriend material. You will also find whether or not he’s got leadership qualities. If he starts managing the crisis instead of kowtowing to your wishes then you now know his relationship style and how he operates in a crisis. Handling one of life’s disasters smashingly is one of those top relationship qualities for the long haul. Just be careful. Or else you’ll get stuck in one of those sitcom situations where awkwardness for you and comedy for everyone else ensues. For more advice read, How to Tell if Your Boyfriend Is the Antichrist: (and if he is, should you break up with him?) by Patricia Carlin.