4 resolutions for your marriage in 2016

With the start of a new year, naturally there is an opportunity to think about what changes you want to make and where you want to focus your energy in the coming days and weeks. Whether you are a seasoned couple, having spent many years together or a new couple still awash in the glow of infatuation setting intention for the year ahead will be a boon to your relationship. The work you do now will set the tone for the days ahead.

Here are 4 resolutions for your marriage to tackle in 2016.

resolutions for your marriage
Photo credit: Joao Paulo de Vasconcelos

Put your marriage on the front burner.

Too often intimate relationships, especially your marriage end up on the back burner, if it’s on the stove at all! Jobs, kids, hobbies, spiritual lives, personal free time, tend to come before “working on your marriage.” They shouldn’t! The health of your marriage is a driving factor in how successful you are at all the other ventures you tackle. How satisfying your personal relationships are tends to impact the rest of your life including your physical and mental health. While certainly not the only factor, when your emotional house is in order you free up space and energy to go after your goals and dreams with the support of your partner. Make sure your relationship gets its fair share of your time and energy by making a plan. Beyond the old “regular date night” save all, create a real concrete idea of ways you are going to make your marriage a priority. Try to avoid fuzzy goals like, “spend more time together” or “have more sex.” Instead try, spend 1 hour every evening together or kiss each other every day. Continue reading 4 resolutions for your marriage in 2016

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Want to avoid ending up in couples counseling? Say something nice!

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Whisper sweet somethings to your spouse.

You know how the saying goes… If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. In a marriage you may not always have nice things to say and while it is important to voice concerns and bring up uncomfortable issues how to talk about difficult topics is the subject of another post. The rest of the time, how positive you are and how much warmth you share between you has a big impact on the quality of your relationship. While it may be an oversimplification to say that you can avoid couples counseling by being nice, you can have a major impact on the day to day climate of your marriage by keeping the ratio or positive to negative interactions to 10:1. When you espouse an attitude of positivity and gratitude you lift those around you into that mindset as well. Positive people are more attractive, tend to be healthier and happier. Continue reading Want to avoid ending up in couples counseling? Say something nice!

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Relationship Counseling: How to jump in when you’re ready and they’re not.

In an ideal world when there is strife in a marriage both partners will recognize the need to make some changes and be ready and willing to do that. Unfortunately this is not always (or often) the case.  You and your partner may both recognize there is a problem, however you may be on your own when it comes to seeking help.  Or you may be the only one who feels a change is needed. Either way you are on your own when it comes to relationship counseling. So where do you turn?

On your own when it comes to seeking relationship counseling?
On your own when it comes to seeking relationship counseling? Photo by Allesandro Valli

Finding the right relationship counseling is critical when you are flying solo. Here are some ideas for where to begin…

Continue reading Relationship Counseling: How to jump in when you’re ready and they’re not.

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10 fall date ideas to give your relationship a boost!

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Photo credit: Jim Bauer

It’s finally fall! The summer heat has come and gone (mostly) and it’s time to pull out the sweaters and rakes and take in all the delights of fall.  Cooler weather and shorter days means more time spent indoors and hopefully more time with your partner.  If summer, in all it’s glory was busy and expansive, fall signals a time to slow down a bit and settle into a different routine.  If you have kids, they are ideally settling into a new school year and the jitters and adjustments have softened. Time to look inward and focus on your relationship.

Here are 10 fall date ideas to put the focus on your relationship this season.

1. Take advantage of your city’s cultural offerings. Museums, Botanic Gardens, Theaters and Restaurants often have special events this time of year. Pumpkin festivals, corn mazes, Dia De Los Muertos celebrations, Boo at the Zoo events and so much more. These events are often kid and family focused, they can also be romantic and help you feel connected to the season.

2. Bake (or buy) your favorite fall treat and meet in a special spot.  If pumpkin spice latte’s are your thing, grab one for your partner and surprise them at work. Or better yet, grab the ingredients spend Saturday morning at home experimenting with a new recipe. Continue reading 10 fall date ideas to give your relationship a boost!

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5 Habits of happy couples.

happy couples
Photo credit: Timothy Krause

5 habits happy couples practice.

1. Steer clear of toxic talk. If not careful, toxic talk can easily creep into daily chatter with your spouses.  One of the wonderful things a close relationship affords is lots of information about each other, the good and the ugly.  When you use the intimate information you have about each other to tease, mock or rail against your spouse you undermine the trust and safety critical for an intimate relationship. Happy couples steer clear of harsh words and share encouragement and positivity instead! Continue reading 5 Habits of happy couples.

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Relationship apps. A new way to connect with your love or just another distraction?

In researching this post I asked my husband to sign up for a few relationship apps to try out with me. Full disclosure it took him 2 weeks to actually sign up. He is a very willing participant and it still took him 2 weeks to actually sign up, so don’t be discouraged if your partner isn’t quick to get on board.  We did eventually have a chance to do them together, though I had fun checking them out on my own in the meantime! 64% of American adults own a smartphone. It’s no wonder that there is an “app” for just about anything and everything under the sun these days.  If you can lose weight, practice mediation, track your exercise and sleep patterns, learn a language or buy just about anything why not find an app that offers a new way to connect with your partner. Relationship apps can be fun and inspire ideas to kick start a date night, stay close when you are far away and much more.

While apps can make connecting with your partner easier in some ways, especially for folks who are already very active smartphone users, becoming too dependent on apps of this sort can backfire. Part of what humans look for in relationships is real connection, physical, emotional and spiritual.  While technology can make some things easier it will never be better than the old fashioned way of connecting. Beware of the pitfalls of technoference and remember like most anything balance and moderation are key. Give the apps a try, just make sure you are staying focused on the real connection you have and have fun with it!

Here are a few relationship apps to try and see for yourself whether it’s a benefit or not…

Continue reading Relationship apps. A new way to connect with your love or just another distraction?

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Your relationship maintenance checklist.

Have you had the gutters cleaned on your house lately?  How about weeding and lawn mowing?  Maybe you have had to fix a leak or repair a crack in the wall. Your house, in order to stay in good working order needs regular maintenance. Failure to take care of those tasks and your house is likely to suffer and eventually fall into disrepair, the same is true for the relationships in your life. Regular relationship maintenance will keep the love alive and the investment in your relationship strong.  So what’s needed to sustain a healthy relationship?

relationship maintenanceRelationship maintenance refers to regular behaviors that are engaged in by partners in an effort to stay together.  The more relational maintenance you engage in as a couple the better your chances of longevity in the relationship. Researchers Laura Stafford and Daniel J. Canary identified a set of five general relationship behaviors that when engaged in regularly increase the quality of the relationship.

Your relationship maintenance checklist…

Continue reading Your relationship maintenance checklist.

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Is marriage counseling inevitable?

All couples have challenges, there is no doubt about that. Sometimes the challenges are external; job related stresses or job loss, familial conflict or major life events like the birth of a child. Some conflicts are internal; depression and anxiety can result in conflict in a relationship, poor habits from past relationships or even patterns learned as a child all contribute to how you relate to your partner.  Add to that personality differences, cultural differences and you have loads of potential for conflict.

Is it just inevitable that at some point in a long term committed relationship you would need to seek marriage counseling?

marriage counseling

Just as the question gets complicated so does the answer.  All couples can benefit from learning new relationship skills. Couples who are able to manage conflict in a healthy way are far less likely to divorce or need counseling. While all couples can benefit from a good marriage therapist, counseling can likely be avoided if you are proactive about learning solid skills as early on in your relationship is possible. Continue reading Is marriage counseling inevitable?

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Marital problems: I do all the work.

So, you’ve unloaded the dishwasher, given the kids a bath, and as you carry another load of laundry upstairs you think to yourself…”arrgh, why do I have to do all the work around here?”  It’s a frequent complaint on the list of marital problems couples seek help for.  While there certainly are inequities in many relationships, it is possible it’s a question of perception.  There is a concept called overclaiming that may apply here.  The idea is essentially that in our work lives, and likely our home lives most people are prone to the feeling that they are doing more work that everyone else. Whether it’s a case of overclaiming or if you truly do more of the work, here are a few ways to lighten the load and avoid resentment and conflict over the workload.

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Do you do “all the work”?

Pay attention to your spouse. Continue reading Marital problems: I do all the work.

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Sexless relationship help: Possible or should you move on?

There are so many reasons a couple might be looking for sexless relationship help.  Desire discrepancies, low sex drive, health issues, depression and many other factors contribute to how healthy your sex life feels.  If you find yourself in a sexless relationship or headed for marital problems, how do you know if you should stick it out and work on the relationship or if it’s time to move on?  While there is no out of the box solution to this problem there are a few things to look for when trying to answer this question.

sexless relationship
Stuck in a sexless relationship?

1. Do you and your partner have good communication skills?

Continue reading Sexless relationship help: Possible or should you move on?

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