Five Things You Can Do Right Now to Make Your Relationship Happier

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Have you started taking each other for granted? Do you wish there was more affection and fun in your relationship?

KEY POINTS

  • Saying “I love you” is always appreciated, but expressing gratitude toward one’s partner also goes a long way.
  • Touch helps romantic partners feel connected and strengthens a relationship.
  • Taking a walk or hike with one’s partner, especially when there is something important to discuss, can ease tension.

Show Appreciation/Gratitude


You may sometimes say “I love you” and that is always appreciated. But, showing what,
specifically, you love is even more treasured. For example, if your partner spontaneously
cleaned up a messy room, say you noticed and you appreciate it. You don’t always have to give a compliment—just show you noticed something specific that your partner has done or said and that it meant a lot to you. Oh, those are tasks my partner is supposed to do you may think.

But, saying you appreciate what your partner does shows you are aware of what your partner
contributes to your relationship. These expressions of appreciation can go a long way toward
giving you currency in the bank when you have to resolve differences in the future.


Some couples have a nightly “gratitude session” where they express what they are grateful for
in their lives and grateful for in each other. Even if you don’t do this nightly, having a weekly
scheduled time to express gratitude can not only help your relationship but can uplift your
spirits so that the stresses of daily living can be lessened.


Give an Empathic Response


Everyone wants to feel they were really heard. When you repeat back the essence of what you heard, your partner feels you listened and understood what was communicated. Instead of giving your quick response, take a moment to let your partner know what you heard. That will clear up any misunderstandings and bring you both closer together.


Don’t Forget the Warmth of a Smile and of Touch


A hello kiss upon coming home from work, some cuddling in bed at night, and a goodbye kiss all signify your partner is important to you. We all need touch to feel connected to each other and doing so strengthens our relationship.


Make Time for a Date Night


Your relationship is more important than your work or the kids. Yes, you have to make time for
them but your relationship can get squeezed out with attending to all their daily activities.
After all, the kids are going to leave someday but, hopefully, your partner isn’t.


Set aside time for just the two of you. You may have a romantic dinner at home when the kids
are reading in their beds before falling asleep. Or you may get a babysitter and go out to dinner or out to a movie or a play.

Schedule a Fun Event at Least Once Every Two Weeks


Find an activity both of you enjoy, and participate in it together. Each of you can write out a list
of what you enjoy doing outside of the house. Then compare your lists. There may be some
activities that overlap or are similar. Then consult a website such as Meetup.com to find an
activity in your neighborhood.

Another way to spend meaningful time together is to volunteer together. Giving to others
moves you out of yourself and your own problems while bringing you closer together through
this shared activity.


A fun event does not have to cost money. You can just take a walk. Taking a walk or hike
together can help ease tensions, especially when you need to discuss something important.
Walking encourages talking and you often can come to a solution or a helpful compromise
during your walk.

The Benefits from Understanding Another Point of View

Seeing Differently

It is easier to interact with people who have the same opinions that you do.  It is easier to stay in your own social media silo.  You may not have even considered thinking about things from another person’s perspective.

Yet there are many benefits to understanding another person’s thoughts, motives, and emotions. Taking the other person’s perspective can help you (a) reduce conflict, (b) solve problems more effectively, and (c) enlarge your view of yourself.

To understand another’s perspective you need to first set aside your own thoughts and feelings.  This distancing from your own perspective is difficult to do because you probably often listen only to judge what you are hearing. You make assumptions and come to conclusion about the other person’s message without really hearing what that person is trying to tell you.  So, try suspending judgment and open your eyes, ears, and heart to what the other person is saying.

Reducing Conflict

If you understand the other person’s point of view you can tell that person what you understand.  That person then feels heard and more willing to listen to your point of view. 

For example, someone may say all rap music is created by men with very little education.  You, on the other hand, like rap music and find a lot of social value in it.  Instead of trying to convince that person of your point of view, just repeat back the essence of what you heard, that “all rap music represents uneducated males’ opinions.  Then you can state your view with an example from the musical “Hamilton”.  The other person might then acknowledge that some rap music can be enlightening. The conflicting opinions now are reduced as each of you realized there is more than one way to view rap music.

Solving a Problem

When presented with a difficult problem to solve, whether it is a personal one or a workplace one, it often helps to get another person’s view of it.  Again, though, you have to set aside your opinions and judgments in order to really hear and accept a different point of view.  That different point of view might be just the one to solve the problem or add to your view to see the problem in a more nuanced way.  There always is more than one solution to a problem but it is necessary to be open to that solution.

Maybe the problem is solving the homeless crisis and you have several solutions you want to present to your local officials.  Have you ever thought of asking some homeless people what they think might be a solution? You might be surprised to hear they have some good suggestions that you had not thought of.  Yet, if you only apply your own solutions to the problem, the problem may not be as effectively solved.

Seeing Yourself in a New Way

Considering other people’s points of view enlarges the way you see yourself.  By intently listening to another person, you begin to see that person not just in terms of your previous stereotypes, but in their commonalities with you. 

The part we don’t want to see in our self is often the part we don’t want to see in another person.  We might have some bull-headed opinions, just like the other person has.  And, if we engage with that person, we might recognize the same way we defend our opinion without listening to the other person’s opinion.  We may discover that, contrary to social media trying to convince us that we don’t have anything in common with people who have beliefs other than our own, we can see what we do have in common.

By suspending our judgment of others and really listening to them we can go from me to we.

Give Yourself a Little Love This Valentine’s Day

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The new year can bring regrets and resolutions to do better in the future.  Yet, reminding yourself about these regrets can stop you from giving yourself the love you need to have a happy future.

Many psychologists, including Erich Fromm, have asserted that you can’t fully love another person until you fill love yourself.  So how do you do this? You have to stop judging yourself. And stop seeking others’ approval of you.

You Are Unique

Instead of judging parts of yourself as good or bad, you can see yourself as just a unique human with weaknesses and strengths. You are lovable because you are this unique individual, this whole and real person.

Negatively Judging Yourself

What is it specifically that you don’t accept about yourself? Try this short assessment by filling in the rest of each sentence.

I failed to…

I shouldn’t have…

I wish I were…

I need…

People would say I am…

I am…

I am proud of…

If only…

Do some of your responses indicate that you regard yourself as only conditionally acceptable? Are you starting to realize how harshly you judge yourself and how much you rely on the approval of others? Can you change your negatively biased self-referencing beliefs to more helpful ones?

Change the Negative to Neutral

For example, can you tell yourself you did the best you could do at the time and forgive your mistakes? You probably let the mistakes other people make slide so why not do that for yourself?

Focus on the Present

Instead of dwelling on the past, can you pull your mind back into the present? When you let your mind go back into the past, you see yourself as you were in the past and discount who you are now, in the present. Staying in the present gives you a fresh start to be all that you are.

Love Your Uniqueness

Can you accept that you do have some weaknesses, but those are what make you a unique person, so you don’t have to hide or become defensive about them? You are a unique individual, with your own set of strengths and weaknesses. That does not make you better than or less than another person—just different—and you are usually loved for that difference. You no longer need to seek approval from others because you have given yourself approval of both your strengths and weaknesses.

Accept Yourself

Can you accept yourself just as you are now—unconditionally—free of any qualifications? If you catch yourself judging your appearance, personality, or actions, let that judgment go.  Replace the judgment with a loving kindness towards yourself.  Judging one’s self is the opposite of loving one’s self.

Now that you have given yourself this unconditional love you can begin to give it to others.