February 2012

Your Parenting/Leadership TOOLKIT… [since 2003]
Easy Tips 2 improve your partnership/relationship

– parents who can makes changes = children who can make changes –

Dear parents-2-b, moms, dads, caregivers, social workers, grandparents & educators of children between the ages of 0 to 18 years old.

Must admit, I truly believe every day should be Valentines Day. Yet, you cannot escape it – it is every where you look…shops, billboards, adverts, etc. Reality is that it can also be a depresing day when you are in an unhappy or shaky marriage/relationship.

What can you do to survive the month of love when you are worried sick that your marriage or relationship is on the rocks?

Improving your marriage or relationship doesn’t necessarily have to involve huge changes on your part or your spouse’s or partner. Many times, the cumulative effect of small changes can make a significant difference in the quality of A RELATIONSHIP.

It can be discouraging to only focus on the big, sweeping long-range changes that you feel are needed, such as improved communication or increased intimacy. Instead, focus on making several small changes that can affect the quality of your relationship right away.

Once you generate some positive energy flow, it’ll be easier to tackle the larger issues. Plus, you’ll be more motivated to put forth the effort and to keep trying.

If you relate to the above, then scroll down to my toolkit for some suggestions on HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR RELATIONSHIP/MARRIAGE. May these tips inspire you. May you go from strength to strength and be a source of strength to you family, community and others.

Balancing Marriage and Parenting is not easy.  

Here are seven easy ways you can improve your relationship:

1.Schedule date nights on a regular basis.

Did you know research by Idaho State University shows that one of the secrets to a happy marriage is scheduling regular dates? This study involving 132 couples found those who went ON DATES more often [the average was six dates a month] were more likely to be satisfied with their marriage than those who spent less time together.

So get out your calendar and schedule some times for you and your partner to go out and spend time together doing something you both enjoy. You might have dinner in a restaurant, go dancing, see a movie or play, or listen to live music. The important thing is you’re spending time together and having fun.

If you have children and have been neglecting this part of your relationship for a long time because you don’t want to leave the kids with a babysitter, there’s probably something else going on underneath the convenient “reason.”

Doing everything with the children and not spending time alone with your spouse can be a way to try to avoid sex or to minimize romance. It’s a mistake to think this won’t hurt your marriage in the long run—because it will.

2.Show respect when you’re talking to your partner.

You may not realize you’re doing damage to your marriage when your partner is talking to you and you sigh with exasperation and roll your eyes.

Psychologist John Gottman has conducted research on what attitudes increase the chances that a marriage will end unhappily. He has found contempt is the most damaging, and he says rolling your eyes when your spouse is talking to you is a classic sign that communicates contempt.

The actual words used in interactions between a couple are only part of what is being communicated. The non-verbal component is also communicating loudly. So you’re giving your partner important information about how you really feel about him or her when you show disrespect.

Start becoming more aware of your behaviour when your partner is talking to you. You might ask your partner if she or he feels disrespected during conversations and interactions with you. But don’t ask for honest feedback unless you’re prepared to receive it without getting defensive. The goal is to become more self-aware and improve your relationship with your partner.

Remember, children see, children do.

3.Take the television out of the bedroom.

You may be SURPRISED at the research findings involving late-night TV.

A survey by Italian psychologist Serenella Salomoni found that among couples over the age of fifty, those who kept TV out of the bedroom had sex an average of seven times a month compared with 1.5 times a month for couples with TV’s. The implication is that late-night TV can translate into a lot less sex for many couples.

It’s easy to see how this could happen over time without a couple even stopping to think about the long-term effects on their sex life and intimacy. Watching television becomes a habit and the path of least resistance.

If removing the television from your bedroom sounds too drastic, at least consider initiating a conversation with your partner about these findings and whether your marriage might benefit from less TV watching in the evenings.

4.Make time for vacations.

The Wisconsin Medical Journal reported that when 1500 women were asked how often they took a vacation, 20% said that it had been six years or more. These non-vacationers were more likely to be stressed and unhappy in their marriages.

Every day life can get so bogged down with details, work, and loose ends that fun and romance can easily become buried and neglected. Remember the old saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

The same is certainly true of relationships—if there’s no time to play and have fun, then dullness, fatigue, and boredom often take hold. Passion and romance thrive on stimulation, building positive new memories, and the excitement that change brings.

Just leaving home and seeing and doing different things can be energizing and perk up a stale relationship. The vacations don’t have to be expensive or exotic. Consider camping. Explore off-season rates and advertised self catering specials. Put on your creative thinking cap and see what’s possible.

5.Remember to hug your mate each day.

Doctors at the University of North Carolina have found that hugging boosts blood levels of oxytocin, a relaxing hormone that is linked to trust.

According to Kathleen Light, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at UNC and one of the study’s authors, “It is safe to say that oxytocin is linked to emotional as well as physical closeness in partners….”

Make it a point to initiate more hugging, and don’t be bashful about asking for what you need and want. Ask your mate to join you in some bear hugs each day or a session of snuggling on the sofa as you talk. You’ll both feel better afterwards!

Note: If “hugs = sex” in your marriage, it’s time to make a change. Many wives complain their husbands only touch them—hold hands, hug, kiss, snuggle—when the husbands want sex.

These wives often try to avoid physical contact with their husband because they don’t want to get him aroused. This leads to a pulling away and a lack of on-going closeness and connection. Thus, it’s important that hugging not be just a prelude to sex.

6.Celebrate days that are special to the two of you.

Take the time to record the special days on your personal calendar so you won’t forget.

What days should you celebrate? For starters, include the day you met your partner, your wedding day, your partner’s birthday, your birthday, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, and any other dates that have significant meaning or cause for celebration.

Through the years, I’ve heard many people express hurt that their mate never buys them a gift, even for their birthday. There’s no special dinner or birthday cake—nothing.

They might not receive a Valentine’s Day card or a Christmas present, either. I’m always sad to hear this, because it seems like such a loss of an opportunity to celebrate. And the message delivered to the mate is she or he isn’t valued and treasured.

Life is short, and you can’t take your beloved partner for granted. Look for every opportunity to celebrate your love, your marriage, and the fact that you’re alive!

7.Smile More Often.

A genuine smile can warm the heart and make you more attractive to your partner.

That’s because smiles are sexy as well as contagious, and the energy they produce can give you and your spouse a needed boost just when you need it the most.

Smiling connects you to others so you aren’t aloof and separate.

A warm smile invites your spouse to come closer, to connect with you, and to linger in your presence. You’ll feel better and so will your spouse.

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