Turkey and Politics – Helping your marriage survive Thanksgiving

marriage, politics and turkeys!

Marriage, politics, Thanksgiving — a tricky triad at any time! And this year, with all the post-election processing, it may be especially challenging to manage everyone around the table.  So, how can you keep marriage, politics and Thanksgiving from undoing each other?  How can you keep political tensions at the table from ruining your carefully basted Turkey?

First, focus on the basics when it comes to communication skills.  That means be a super skilled listener and speaker.  When listening, hard as it may  be, find something that makes sense about what the other person is saying.  No question that can be a challenge if you’re seated next to a friend or family member whose politics are diametrically opposed to yours, and at the same time, listen hard and think carefully as there almost always is a core kernel one can agree with in any political opinion.

At the same time, be careful when speaking.  It’s easy to generalize and talk in a way that assumes others share your perspectives.  Express your opinions as just that, your opinions.  Stick to “I” statements.  Be wary of accidentally including others by saying things like “we need to,” or “our country would be better if . . . ”  A simple, “I believe in” or “I’m worried that. . . ” will be less likely to evoke a defensive response.

Power of Two coaches have many more tips on how to talk and listen to avoid marriage problems.

Likewise, you might want to check out our founder Dr. Heitler’s thoughts on how to cope with the post election blues if you’re struggling to make sense of the election (or if you have family who is less than thrilled).

One more tip that’s sure to work if things are really tense at your table.  Focus on the food!  For one day, put politics aside and enjoy everyone’s cooking.  Feel thankful for all that is in front of you and keep the conversation there as well.

Happy holidays!

Marriage Problems and Paddle Ball . . . Really?

It may sound a bit far fetched, that said if you’re facing marriage problems, paddle ball may be just the sport for you!

Side note:  We went to the beach today for a little end of season visit.  As the weather was getting chilly, there weren’t to many swimmers, but kites, paddle ball and frisbee tossing were all the rage.

So, back to paddle ball.  We were sitting next to a young couple who clearly loved paddle ball.  Plink, plink, plink, plink went their little ball back and forth, forth and back.

Distracted from my book, I started to think about marriage problems and what could be learned from this couple’s plink, plink plinking.  Here’s a few of my musings.

  1. Keep track of how many in a row you two can get together.  Marriage problems only get worse if you keep score about who did what wrong.  If you want to assign a score, count how many “hits” you get together.  Can you do 5 conversation turns and keep it happy?  20?  A whole day?
  2. Pick a pace that’s nice for both of you.  It was clear the guy in this couple could have hit the ball a lot harder. And he didn’t.  He went for enjoying the game together instead of smashing every ball.  Same in marriage.  Marriage problems can take some time to sort out.  Find a pace that works for both of you.
  3. Enjoy each others company.  That’s the real reason to play paddle ball — it’s a fun thing to do on the beach together.  Marriage help goes the same way.  It often is best to try to start with remembering how to have some fun together.
  4. Be active.  OK, so I was glued to my beach chair all day.  And, I could see how nice it was for the paddle ballers to be actively moving around.  When facing marriage problems be active about learning new skills.  And literally, be active too – – amazing how more effective conversations sometimes are while walking around the block.

Get your relationship spark back with these 6 great (not lame) date ideas.

In a date night rut? Does the thought of Valentine’s Day inspire boredom and you’d rather just stay home in your Pj’s and skip the whole production? Well don’t! As cliche as the idea of date night can be maybe you’ve just run out of good ideas!

Here are some fun ideas to light up that relationship spark and get in the mood for love again.

1. Take a guided tour of your city together.  

relationship spark
Photo credit: Flickr image_less_ordinary

Most larger cities (and certainly some smaller cities as well) offer all kinds of tours. Maybe you recently moved to a new city or maybe you’ve called your city home for years there is no doubt there is undiscovered territory. For the history buff a landmark tour might be a no brainer, even for a history novice finding out little know facts about your city can help you feel more rooted and connected to your surroundings and hopefully your partner too! Even better find a double decker bus, segway or bicycle tour to push your comfort zone and to keep the date feeling light hearted and fun.

2. Take an Ikebana class (flower arranging that is). Continue reading Get your relationship spark back with these 6 great (not lame) date ideas.

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

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

avoid couples counseling
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!

10 fall date ideas to give your relationship a boost!

fall date ideas
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!

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.

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?

Happy New Year to You.

Words to ponder as the year turns from end to new beginning.

happy new years

The whole point to New Years is not just to have a new year. But that we should be new, better and different people. That is why we exercise to RE-NEW our bodies. That is why we write GOALS to get a Renewed sense of our potential. That is why we make RE-SOLUTIONS because we resolve that there are solutions inside of us that we have not tapped into. So don’t waste each New Years season. Maximize it! Start fresh using a new perspective for it will enable you to tap into a new season with greater capacity.
~ Sheilla Payton

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.
~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Happy New Year to you

A new year is beginning to peak through
softly beautiful and different like new falling snow,
each day unique and shaped just for you.
Your life adding something as each day does grow.
My wish for your new year is beauty
and softness with surprises thrown in for delight.
Love for each day bringing happiness to you,
making your life a scene of sparkle and shining sunlight.
~ Author Unknown

Tick Tock

I’m writing this in a state of shock,
Watching the clock—tick tock, tick tock,
Advancing, approaching, relentlessly,
A brand new year; Oh, can it be?

The calendar says the same thing, too;
Time races, vanishes for me; Boo hoo!
No, wait! If time flies, I’m having fun!
A year of fun! It’s gone! It’s done!

I now embrace the blur of time,
Because it simply means that I’m
Too busy with pleasure, joy, delight
To mourn the passing days’ swift flight.

So I’m wishing you fast, happy days,
Pleasuring you in myriad ways,
Filled with happiness and cheer,
Oh Happy, Happy Bright New Year!
~ Joanna Fuchs

The Road Less Traveled

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~ Robert Frost

Want to have more sex during stressful times? Here are 5 things to try.

A lot of good habits can suffer during stressful times.  Some people overeat, workout routines fall off the map, sleep is often affected. Sex is another piece of the relationship puzzle that gets put on the back burner when stress hits the fan.  Here are a few tips for how to avoid the sexless marriage trap and keep that lovin’ feeling alive even when stress, including holiday stress takes a hold on your life and relationship…

1. Sleep Naked.  Forego the holiday themed, fuzzy footy Pj’s and go to bed in your birthday suit.  Couples who sleep naked have more sex.  Sleeping naked removes one small barrier to getting busy.  In addition, physical touch and close contact increase oxytocin, the love hormone. Climbing into the sheets naked will encourage you to get closer to warm up on cold winter nights. Who knows you might get lucky!

have more sex
Slip into the sheets in your birthday suit.

3. Keep your bedroom a sanctuary.  When it comes to your bedroom, don’t dismiss the power of setting the mood. Too often the clutter of stressful times builds up in your bedroom. Laundry piling up, work to do, stacks of bills, papers or books waiting to be read, shopping bags full of gifts to be wrapped all contribute to the mental clutter aka intimacy killer.  Take some time to de-clutter your bedroom, take the tv out (or at least cover it up or put in in a cabinet) Letting the world in via television and devices can squeeze out special moments to connect with your spouse. Take the stacks of paper out, go through them if you can, if you can’t just put them somewhere else!  The last and probably most difficult task in the bedroom is to GET RID OF THE SMARTPHONE!! A recent article cited the statistic that “70 percent of women in a recent survey said smartphones were interfering in their romantic relationship.”  Now certainly you don’t need to get rid of it all together, just leave it out of the bedroom!

have more sex
Don’t let clutter be a barrier to a roll in the hay.

Continue reading Want to have more sex during stressful times? Here are 5 things to try.