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.

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.

The Only Relationship Advice You’ll Ever Need

The Only Relationship Advice You’ll Ever Need

The Only Relationship Advice You’ll Ever Need

Sometimes you feel like you like or even love someone so much but you don’t know what to do to show it, or to impress them or to keep them happy enough to be a part of your life. Lots of relationships fall into ruts. Everyone gets busy with careers, kids, school and so much more. We start taking each other and the relationship itself for granted. Everything seems like an emergency. By the time you realize that you’ve kept putting your relationship on the backburner for other things; it feels stale. But there’s hope. There’s a way, whether it be in the beginning of a relationship or after many years of marriage, to keep things fresh, vibrant and alive.

Here’s the only relationship advice you’ll ever need:

(Best of all, it’s online on a relationship blog, so it’s free!)

Just spend a little time each day, and a little more now and then trying to make them feel special. Make being considerate and thoughtful part of your everyday routine. Thank your partner or spouse for what they contribute, even if you have mutually decided that it is their responsibility anyway. A heartfelt thank you can do wonders. Make sure it’s authentic and comes from the heart or they may accuse you of being sarcastic and then you will undermine the very atmosphere you wish to build in your relationship. You want to make them feel warm, fuzzy, loved and appreciated so that when they do they’ll turn all those good feelings back onto you, and you will create a virtuous circle of gratitude in your relationship.  First, consider what things you can say or what thoughtful gestures might be both authentic and appropriate. Go for things that are meaningful and thoughtful. You want to touch their heart.

Why not give them a call or a text in the middle of the day just to tell them how much you love them, ask how their day is going or send them something a little steamy? Write a little love note and slip it into their briefcase or jacket pocket. Write them a love letter or even an email. If you are creative, a poem, a song, a short story with them in it, or if you are artistic a piece dedicated to them will do the trick. What a grand gesture! And what might they do in return? Don’t say anything about that angle. If they think you did this gesture merely to get some payback it will make the whole thing go sour and ruin the atmosphere you are wishing to create. Instead, don’t mention it at all. If they are worth your time they will definitely get you back. If not, there is always good karma coming your way. Who couldn’t use that?

Oftentimes we notice something our significant other does that we like or enjoy but we hold our tongue. For some reason we fail to say anything about it. Learn to pay your lover those compliments you think in your head but don’t say out loud. Don’t think they’ll get a big ego over it. Instead it will make them feel more secure, and bonded to you, a great thing to have in a relationship. If you think they look sexy in a certain shirt or without one, that their new haircut compliments their face, that the way they give a little speech at a friend’s wedding was touching or if you just like how they handle the kids, let them know. Make sure your compliments and gratitude fit. Don’t go overboard. Make sure it sounds sincere. Positive feedback can go a long way. You’ll notice when you start doing this that they’ll do it, too. The mood in your relationship will be lighter and you’ll be happier, more buoyant and more playful.

Smile at your mate. Hug and kiss them, hold their hand and show them physical affection. You don’t have to go overboard if you two aren’t the touchy feely type or if it makes your partner uncomfortable. Just do what is right, comfortable, natural and acceptable. Flirt with your partner here and there. Make them feel as attractive as you find them. Let them know you are interested in what they are interested in. When you find an article, a book, a movie, a CD or whatever they might be interested in, get it for them as a present. If you don’t have any money, wrap up your old copy and give it to them. Send them internet links of things they are interested in. Keep repeating this generosity until you are riding a wave of reciprocal gratitude. For more, pick up a copy of Attitudes of Gratitude in Love: Creating More Joy in Your Relationship by M. J. Ryan.

Listen to your Partner

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Sometimes when you’ve been together for a while, and communicating the same way over and over, we lose the ability to listen to one another. Neither person feels appreciated or validated. The couple drifts apart. Or one person goes astray to fulfill needs not being met at home. If you find this happening in your relationship, that you are no longer reconnecting but instead yessing each other to death, it’s time to relearn how to listen to your partner again, and reconnect on a much deeper level. The first thing to do is to sit your partner down and talk openly and honestly about the communication blockage. That you two are only communicating on the surface and you wish to reconnect on a deeper level. Expect your partner to hear you out. Don’t allow them to interrupt you and don’t interrupt them from now on either. Decide to hear each other out and validate what each person says. Tell them you understand them, their position or where they are coming from. Next, make plans to communicate often. Set aside some time to sit and talk together. It can be over dinner, having a walk or going out to dinner once per week. Spice up that time together and make it fun. Prepare a movie afterwards, surprise them by taking them to a different restaurant, or set up a telescope so that you can go stargazing afterward.

It’s important to practice listening to each other. Without respect there is no marriage, not a functional one anyway. And part of respect is really listening to one another. Practice active listening. If there is something you don’t agree with, disagree respectfully. Instead of demanding your spouse do something, instead switch to requesting. Get in the habit of thanking your spouse for what they do, even if it’s a chore you both decided would be their responsibility. Don’t make any negative comments or blame them for things. Don’t tell them that they don’t care, or that they are thoughtless when they haven’t followed through on something they said they would. Just tell them how you feel. You are upset, angry or concerned because they didn’t do the very thing you asked them to. Show an interest in what they do, their work or their hobby or interests as a way to reconnect with them. Offer to go along to a sporting event, game, club or activity night with them and ask them to do the same for you. Remember that if you can’t agree on an issue then couch it for now and work on it again later. Keep talking. Show respect, love and interest toward one another and you will be reconnecting before you know it. For more tips on how to improve your listening skills, read the advice of James C. Petersen D. Min. L.P.C. in his book, Why Don’t We Listen Better? Communicating & Connecting in Relationships.

How to Praise your Partner Instead of Criticizing Them

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Is your first reaction to criticize your partner? Are you at your best when you’re being sarcastic? If you can’t stop tearing your partner down, you are likely hurting their feelings. They will hide things from you. They won’t trust you. Ultimately you will drive them away. But what is the problem and how can it be addressed? How can you learn to praise your partner instead of criticizing them? First, come to realize the essential point of the problem. You are wrapped up in putting down others and making yourself look better in comparison. While a slight critique here and there can improve things, overly criticizing someone is a blow to their ego, their self-esteem, it makes their life uncomfortable, sucks the fun out of the relationship, creates a toxic environment and ultimately ends the relationship. The truth is, this is a strategy meant to dominate. People will start to think that nothing is ever good enough for you. Whether this is true or not, the urge to constantly criticize is a habit. And like all habits it can be broken. The first thing to do is to recognize what you say to your partner and how it makes them feel. Sit down and have a talk with them. Ask them to open up about this. Tell them you won’t judge them. If they don’t respond, give them time and quit criticizing them all the time. Then revisit the issue.

Next, plan to only communicate your criticisms in an appropriate way, and only the most important or crucial ones. When your partner does something way out of line, find a nice, well balanced and appropriate way to communicate the issue and suggest a better way to approach and solve the problem. Then decide to, instead of criticizing your partner, praise them. Find little things that they do and tell them what they did and why you like it. Write down a list of things you like about them, and also things you appreciate in your life. When they do something like wash the dishes or take out the garbage, even if it’s their job, thank them for it. Expect them to thank you when you do something, even if it’s your job. Talk to someone, do some research online, or speak to a professional and find the difference between constructive criticism and a put down. Make sure you can communicate with a goal in mind, to stop your partner say from leaving their dirty boots in the house, or check with you before making plans. Don’t take part in boosterism or praising in the hopes that your partner’s elevated self-esteem will someday raise their level of performance above mediocrity. You can have higher standards. But use praise, patience and positive reinforcement to help your partner get there. If you are in a committed relationship, be committed to loving and helping this person. Accept them for who they are. Accept their faults and their positive qualities alike, and expect the same from them in return. For more insight on how to have a healthier relationship with your partner, read the advice of Harville Hendrix in his book, Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples, 20th Anniversary Edition.