Small, Simple ways to improve your Marriage

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Small, Simple ways to improve your Marriage

It isn’t easy staying married, as today’s divorce rate can attest. But it isn’t always big problems that break up a married couple. Often it’s a buildup of little things that turn into a tidal wave of problems which ultimately wash away the couple’s married future. Fight back against the tide of tiny destroyers. Here are some small, simple ways to improve your marriage right now and move forward from this instant on. Follow these and the road ahead will be much smoother.

If you want to stay close, when you are wrong, apologize. Don’t insist you are right for pride’s sake. Your pride will get between you and your spouse. When you are in an argument, don’t only view it from your perspective. Try and see things from their point of view. Use your imagination. How would you feel? What would your reaction be? Putting yourself in their shoes will calm your anger, give you a little sympathy and help to organize the negotiation phase, conjuring up a plan on how to satisfy both of you without harming either. Laugh when you two are together. It is far more important to enjoy each other’s company. It will make your bond strong and resilient.

Pencil sex in if you two are so busy and don’t have time for a long, drawn out romantic encounter. A marriage without physical intimacy gets dull and fades. But being intimate together, even if it’s just a quickie a couple of times a week, will make you closer, release tension and help keep the spark alive. It’s important to make sure that you attack life as a team. That’s why a weekly meeting is important. Instead of killing the relationship with nagging and arguments, schedule a time each week to tackle important issues and solve them. Make a running list throughout the week on what is to be covered. Solve your problems at that time and spend some other alone time during the week enjoying each other’s company. Talk about the little things in life, good and bad. Talk about everything. Keep the lines of communication open and free.

Make sure you schedule some time for your own hobbies, friends, interests, and so on. Don’t yell. It doesn’t solve anything. It only makes matters worse. If you want to yell excuse yourself and go yell in another room, in a pillow or in your car while it’s parked. Then when you calm down schedule a time to revisit the issue, discussing how it makes you feel and possible solutions. Show gratitude. Thank the other person for what they do. And expect gratitude in return too. For some fun relationship advice read, Advice for a Happy Marriage: From Miss Dietz’s Third-Grade Class by Debi Dietz Crawford and Friends.

Couples without Children are Happier

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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.

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.

How to Make Love Last

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How to Make Love Last

Despite the elevated divorce rate, long term love is not doomed. In fact many couples experience a beautiful, deep, thrilling connection throughout their lives together. A recent study conducted by Stony Brook University found that out of a sample of 274 married couples, together 10 years or longer, 49% of men and 46% of women said that they were “very intensely in love.” This study was published in The Journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science. Head researcher Daniel O’Leary and his team uncovered the secrets to sustaining romance. So how do you make love last? First, physical intimacy is important, such as hugging and kissing. It releases oxytocin the “cuddle hormone” helping the couple relax and connect. Couples who didn’t report any physical displays of love were also those in a loveless marriage. Sexual frequency also contributed to feelings of intense love. But it wasn’t necessary. 25% stated feeling this way without be physically intimate with their partner within the last month. Physical affection even makes up for other negative aspects of a relationship. Some couples who reported stress over financial decisions, different parenting styles and so on who took part in physical affection still said they were in intense love with their partner.

Couples that remained positive were also far more likely to feel intense love for each other. Some couples take each other for granted or the elements in their partner that they love, appreciate or admire fade from constantly seeing them. But those who showed more appreciation were far more likely to be intensely in love. Another aspect was sharing in interesting, unique and exhilarating experiences together. Exercising, cooking, reading and discussing the same book or article, learning something new that was exciting like surfing, traveling, exploring spirituality or going on adventures all helped couples maintain intense, long lasting love. Personal happiness was the last quality that couples that love intensely share. Personal happiness was especially important for women in these relationships. But does being intensely in love also infuse a person with happiness, or does personal happiness bring an extra spark to the relationship? This is a chicken and egg scenario, a Mobius strip without end. See if you can infuse some of these characteristics in your relationship. Practice appreciating your partner. Go on adventures and explore together. Invest in some quality time. Make sure to show physical affection toward one another. Your love will grow and blossom if you cultivate it in the right way. For more advice read, Lasting Love: How to Avoid Marital Failure by Alistair Begg.

A Lasting Relationship Comes Down to Two Things

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A Lasting Relationship Comes Down to Two Things

How many married couples make it to happily ever after? According to psychologist Ty Tashiro only three in ten marriages contain health, happiness and longevity. So what makes some marriages toxic while a slim few stick it through? John Gottman might have the answer. He is a prominent psychologist who has been studying relationships for only about four decades. He along with psychologist Julie Gottman—his wife, run their own institute figuring out what it takes to make love last. “The Love Lab” at The Gottman Institute in New York City has run many a fascinating study. In one, newlyweds were hooked up to electrodes and asked a series of questions including how they found each other, what was a big problem they faced together and to share a cherished memory. The electrodes measured their heart rate, blood pressure and sweat response to signify the level of stress each was experiencing. The couples were followed up with six years later, to see if they were still a couple. Soon a pattern emerged. Gottman separated newlyweds into two groups: the masters and the disasters. Those who were still together six years on were masters, those who had broken up disasters.

Couples who had activated systems where their heartrate was racing, their blood pressure was high and their sweat glands were active were the disasters. Those whose systems were calm were masters. The reason was, those disasters just sitting next to their spouse and answering questions made them nervous. Their body was in a state of hyper-arousal, the fight-or-flight response. This raised their heart rate and blood pressure, and perhaps that of their partner. This physical response made them more likely to lash out at their partner which made the couple unstable. As a result of following thousands of couples over a long period of time, Gottman found that the quicker their system was during these initial interviews the less likely they were to have staying power. Masters were generally well connected, and calm during these interviews. Now the researcher wanted to know what aspects of masters helped them to keep intimacy flowing and how they stayed so close and connected. In the inverse, how did disasters shutdown channels of intimacy? What he noticed was when interacting, those couples that showed an interest in one another’s interests had a closer relationship. When one mentioned something they were interested in, called “bidding” if the partner responded positively, this helped build connection. But those who turned away or responded negatively missed a chance at connection.

Couples who had staying power looked for places where their significant other did something well and complimented them on it. They built an atmosphere of respect, tenderness, curiosity and love. The masters would notice things about the partner and compliment them on it. It came down to two things really: appreciation and kindness. Conversely, the end of a relationship was near when one or both partners showed contempt. Being kind bound couples together. Contempt and being taken for granted tore couples apart. Kindness should be thought of not as a trait but as a skill we all have that we either hone or do not. Some are kinder than others but we all have the capacity for compassion. It’s what makes us human. In our technological world we often get caught up in emails or social media. But instead of just muttering a response to our spouse, we should really listen to them and find elements of interest, when we don’t we miss an opportunity to grow closer. If we can remember to keep kindness and appreciation in our relationships, according to Gottman’s research, then we have the best chance of success. For more on the logic of love read, The Science of Happily Ever After by Ty Tashiro.