Hello to all our dear readers. In lieu of a post this week we wanted to share a review of Power of Two, sent over by the folks at Dating Advice. Hayley Matthews wrote a lovely article describing the online marriage education program and the specific value we bring to couples interested in alternative ways to strengthen their relationships through skill education. We were particularly excited about the interest from a site that focuses on dating couples! We are thrilled at the opportunity to reach more folks at this stage in their relationship, after all it is never too early for relationship skill education!
Pay attention to the details.
When it comes to the causes of divorce there are the biggies…
Infidelity, physical emotional or otherwise.
Addiction and substance abuse.
Excessive anger or abuse.
And then there is the slow buildup of resentment, the everyday moments that turn from loving and attentive to bitter, angry, sour, mean or otherwise ignored. Over time these feelings can turn what was once a loving relationship into an unhappy disconnect that can lead couples to look for a way out. So here’s one way to start to turn things around today. Pay attention to the details!
Each day, moment after moment you have a choice about how to respond to and engage with your spouse or partner. Use each moment to make a change towards a more positive future. It is the compounding of these small moments that will make a relationship last.
Here are a few steps you can take to stay focused on the moment in front of you and make it a positive one…
See your partner for who they are today. It is so easy to carry around with us the past hurts or failings of our loved ones. Try to look past the fact that he didn’t pick up the dry cleaning last week, or the fact that she didn’t call when she said she would. Instead try seeing your spouse for who they are today, right in front of you. Give them the benefit of a new day to surprise you!
Forgive yourself and each other for slip-ups. Even the most skilled communicators and the most thoughtful people have bad days. Try to take a more forgiving standpoint and say to yourself “oh he meant to say…” and look for what makes sense in what s/he said. Rather than reacting in an equally un-skilled way turn the conversation back in a positive direction.
Be a good listener. A marriage is hopefully a lasting pursuit. Being in a relationship necessarily means you will be spending a good deal of time together. It can be very easy to fall into the trap of not giving your full attention to a spouse or partner. You may thing you’ve heard this story 10 times, or maybe you just get so accustomed to the day to day chatter. Next time you are having a conversation stop, really listen to what is being shared. You might be surprised at what you learn!
Express gratitude and appreciation for your partner. Couples who are struggling to make a relationship last will often share that they just don’t feel appreciated. Days are busy, filled with work, social obligations, for some couples children. Remembering to appreciate your spouse if often left off the to do list. Studies show that couples who continually express gratitude and appreciation for on another have deeper and more loving connections. The good news is that you can increase the positivity today. Start with yourself, show genuine appreciation for your spouse and watch the love come back to you.
The bottom line is that small things add up. They are the bricks that create a solid foundation. Start paying attention to the details today and feel the warmth fill the room!
Have you ever been around someone who just shoulds all over you? I recently spent some time with a very dear friend of mine who shoulds instead of shares, leading to a breakdown of communication in relationships. He tells me I should do this and I should do that and I can’t help but feel instantly on the defensive and the end result is that I stop listening. This friend is also one of the most caring and supportive friends I have, I know his intentions are well meaning. I know that what he is trying to do is share in the excitement he feels. I have come to expect these sorts of interactions with this particular friend and to a certain degree they can sometimes just be what they are. On the other hand this kind of communication in relationships, specifically in a marriage can lead to real problems overtime. Defensiveness, bitterness, frustration, and hurt feelings can build up and leave you feeling unheard and uncared for.
At Power of Two we have a term for this kind of communication in relationships, it’s called a crossover. A crossover is essentially one person entering into another persons emotional territory. Telling someone what they think, feel, are or in this case what they should think, feel, be or do.
Are you guilty of shoulding? Here’s what you can do to stop “shoulding” on your loved ones?
Turn what would have been a should statement into and “I-statement” So…
“You should call your mother” could be “I wonder what’s happening with your mother? When is the last time you two spoke?”
“You should eat more vegetables” could be “I feel healthier when I eat more vegetables. How would you feel about having a salad along with dinner tonight?
Remember the mantra “talk about yourself, ask about the other.” Keeping this simple idea in mind will help you keep the focus where it ought to be, yourself!
The cure for the crossover is the “I-statement” essentially replacing the “you” with “I.” I feel.., I think…, I want to…, I really enjoyed… followed by a how or what question. Not only are you able to share something meaningful to you, you are showing your friend and loved one that you are interested in what they think. It’s a WIN WIN!!
No one wants to be told what to think, feel or do. At the same time, sharing rich and meaningful experiences you have had with your partner, friends and loved ones is incredibly valuable and important. So stop should-ing and start sharing to have more communication in your relationships!
You can find just about anything online these days, what about free online marriage counseling? There are no shortages of articles, forums, advice columns and chats to read and participate in. While there is a lot of great information to be found, there’s also much misinformation from folks who have no place giving it out. So how do you separate the good, bad and the ugly?
Focus on marriage education programs, these kinds of programs offer real, practical skills for making changes in your relationship. Look for articles written by professionals associated with the program to give you a sense for whether or not they are reputable, trained and can teach you something. Marriage education programs often offer some amount of material for free and then if you want to continue you can pay a small fee.
Understand that the most important thing you can do to fix a relationship is to fix yourself. There is a “fundamental law of relational theory” according to Psychiatrist Marina Benjamin “that when any part of a system changes, the entire system will be forced to change.” What this means is that the more you are able to effect positive change on yourself, the more your relationship will move in that direction. Marriage education programs are perfect for situations where one spouse is interested in working and the other is resistant. Continue reading ‘Is free online marriage counseling possible?’
Communication in marriage is a really important part of keeping your sex life active and fulfilling. In a recent survey put together by YourTango and Trojan 1,055 parents were asked about their sex life post kids. Respondents answered 35 questions about their sex life. The info graphic below sums up the results quite well. While some of the results were to be expected, parents are tired and have much less time than they did prior to having children. What was surprising is that 40% of respondents said their communication was better post kids. So what role does communication in marriage play in your post kids sex life? Continue reading ‘Communication in marriage is key for sex after kids.’
In an effort to help my marriage I recently deleted Facebook off my smart phone. It’s not that I have any problem with social media, it’s just the way I was engaging with it. Using my (limited) free time to scroll through endless pages of updates, photos and mundane details of my friends lives was mostly just a distraction. Occasionally interesting, more often though just kind of boring and ripe for unhealthy comparison. The biggest problem was that I was ignoring who was sitting next to me. I noticed this unfortunate trend during one point in particular, the first quiet moment after the kids went to sleep and my husband and I sat down on the sofa for what felt like the first time in 12 hours. Out of sheer habit we would both grab our smart phones or the tablet and drift off into social media land. While checking in on everyone else’s day I missed an opportunity to check in with the person who mattered to me the most, my husband. We all know the relationship pitfalls of social media, getting back in touch with an EX, making new connections outside your relationship, seemingly harmless flirting. All of these activities can spell disaster for your relationship, but can you use social media for relationship good? Here are some ways I use social media to help my marriage and you can too, because after all we live in a highly social time and there is no reason to ignore the positives that can come from the many ways we have to stay connected. So here are a few ideas:
1) Have a couple or family Facebook page that you share just between your immediate loved ones. You can use it to share pictures, funny stories or encouraging words. Plan a vacation and use your page to share ideas. Keep each other posted on what you are up to. The trick with this one is to keep it totally private! Continue reading ‘Using social media to help my marriage.’
Time flies, days are busy, filled with work, school, play, family, community and so much more. How much time is left for your marriage? The answer to this question will certainly vary as lives change, families grow or other hurdles come along. Remembering some (seriously) simple ideas to rekindle love in your marriage will shift the trend in the right direction!
1. Declare your love!
2. Agree with something your spouse has said.
3. Pitch in and help with something you don’t usually do in the household. Continue reading ’10 ways to rekindle love in your relationship’
Want to stop fighting with your spouse? Maybe low blood sugar is a factor. Remember that snickers commercial where the guy at the party is grouchy and disgruntled, his wing man comes over and offers him a snickers and after the first bite he is transformed into a charming and friendly guy? It’s a silly idea, often referred to as being “hangry” and while anecdotal information abounds on this topic, turns out there is truth to the idea that low blood sugar can result in higher incidents of aggression in a marriage. In a study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Brad Bushman gave 107 married couples voodoo dolls to represent their spouse, blood glucose levels were measured and participants were then asked to put pins in the dolls. The end result…the lower the blood sugar, the more pins stuck in the dolls. So what is this really about? Will low blood sugar cause more arguments? Continue reading ‘Want to stop fighting before it happens? Have a snack.’
Sex in a marriage can be a touchy subject, especially when you aren’t having much—or any at all. According to a 2002 Newsweek article, 15 to 20% of couples have sex no more than 10 times a year, which is considered a sexless marriage. There are many things that could lead a couple to this situation. Daily stressors like kids, jobs and finances can make it difficult to connect, while decreased libido for hormonal reasons, depression, and a whole host of other day-to-day challenges can make sex the last thing on your list of priorities. So what do you do if intimacy is waning in your marriage?
Here are a few simple steps you can take to invite more intimacy into your relationship:
Dress to impress. Put a little effort into your physical appearance at home. Do you put on your comfy, worn in Pjs as soon as you settle in for the night? Think about what your partner finds physically attractive and put a little effort towards looking and feeling attractive.
Schedule It! When time slips away and you find yourselves letting intimacy fall off the radar, put it on the calendar. Spontaneity has its place, and so does a well-planned roll in the hay.
Increase Positivity. Keep negative comments (especially ones about physical appearance) out of the conversation. Express gratitude; the more positivity you create the greater the warmth and tenderness in your relationship.
Disconnect to Connect. Turn off the television, computer, Kindle, and iPad. Media in the evenings can be a real intimacy killer. Instead, find an activity you can share; talk, listen to music, or go for a walk. Spending quality time together can help you reconnect.
Go to Bed Early (and together). Rather than watching television until you are both tired wrecks, go to bed when you still have some energy left for you spouse.
Sleep Naked. Climbing into bed in your birthday suit shows you’re interested. It also increases feelings of sexual desire. In addition, skin-to-skin contact causes a release of Oxytocin, the love hormone!
People often differ in their preferences, both for the frequency with which they desire sexual activity and what it takes for them to feel aroused. Avoid the sexless marriage trap by understanding what makes your partner tick. Learning some communication basics, as well as some good tools for talking about sex, will go a long way towards keeping things running smoothly in the bedroom.
The bottom line is a little bit of effort will go along way towards getting that spark back and welcoming more intimacy into your marriage!
Recently I attended a baby shower, and among the silly games and exclamations of “oh isn’t that just adorable” there was the inevitable discussion of what the couple was doing to prepare, including which preparation classes the couple had taken. I started to wonder, why is it that we expect new parents to take classes and read countless books to prepare for the newest change in their lives and relationships, but we do not have such expectations when a couple is preparing for another huge change in their relationship: marriage? Why isn’t marriage prep more common for newly engaged couples?
The benefits of marriage preparation are substantial; a study published in 2006 by Scott Stanley, P.R. Amato, and Howard Markham out of the University of Denver showed that couples who participated in pre marriage counseling had a 30% lower divorce rate. Whenever possible we prepare for the big changes in our lives, so it’s worth asking, what are the benefits of pre marriage counseling? Continue reading ‘Five Benefits of Pre Marriage Counseling’