Are You Invested in Your Relationship!!!

gottman 5

After speaking with friends, I began to wonder how many of us are truly invested in our relationships? Sure we go through the motions, we say the magic words….I Love You!!! But what do you do to enhance your current relationship? There is this thing called the 80/20 rule.  Basically it states that you are only going to get 80% of what you need from your significant other. 80%…..those are pretty good odds. Problems occur when you begin to ponder what you are missing which is engulfed within the 20%. Instead of communicating with our significant others some of us tend to stray towards the 20%. It is only after we are there do we realize the grass was much greener with the 80%.  I read an article by Gina Singarighi on Project Eve. She notes that she used John Gottman’s research on emotional bank accounts. The title of the article is: 5 Ways to Invest in Your Relationship.

So how can you invest in your relationships?  Here are five simple tips:

1.  Have daily positive/warm contact.

It’s amazing how little time we actually spend with our partner each week.  Think about it, you’re at work over forty hours, plus commute time, you work out, or watch TV and then its time for bed.  Carve out 30 quality minutes to spend with your sweetheart each day (away from electronic devices) and I promise you will notice a difference.

2.  Share appreciation and gratitude often.

Over time we forget to say those sweet things to our loved ones.  This is a problem because we stop noticing all those wonderful things, and our partner stops hearing about them.  Make sure that once a day you are making an investment in your relationship bank account by sharing something you appreciate about your partner.  Think about it as a vitamin for your relationship’s health.

3.  Notice the attempts your partner makes for your attention and clearly state your attempts for theirs.

John Gottman (the most respected relationship researcher out there) talks A LOT about the importance of bids in relationships.  Bids are the times we ask for attention from our partner.  Successful couples notice bids, and more often than not, they respond warmly to their partner.  Missing bids can quickly get you into shaky territory.   You don’t have to go along with everything your partner says, but it helps to notice all the ways they reach out to you (eye contact, affection, requests for help, invitations etc) and respond with care.

4.  Give the benefit of the doubt.

Sometimes when we are together for a while we start building resentments in relationships.  These can snowball if you don’t stop them quickly.  Trust your partner’s best intentions.  When in question, ask for clarification, “Honey, you’re just asking if I am wearing this so we don’t accidentally dress as twins- not because you think it looks bad, right?”

5.  State your shared mission/meaning/values regularly. 

It’s important to have a shared goal on the horizon and values guiding your decisions.  This doesn’t mean you always agree, but that you have a shared sense of meaning to help guide your collaborative process.  Set some dates for the future and talk openly about how much you look forward to them (not just a wedding, think about travel or shared celebrations).   Talk with your sweetheart about the things that add meaning to your life and shared time.

Read more: http://www.projecteve.com/five-ways-to-invest-in-your-relationships-emotional-bank-account/#ixzz3zJPgv6QE

Ways to Rekindle Your Marriage!!!

Couple Intimacy

Since we are in the month of AMORE’, what better time to devise a plan to put a little spark or even all out fireworks back into your marriage and/or relationship.  Many times we get overwhelmed with the hustle and bustle of everyday life….cooking dinner, cleaning the house, taking care of the kids and lets not for get being the kids personal chauffeur and chaperon, leaves little to no time to show love and affection for your significant other. Basically, we put it on the back burner to everything else that is going on.  Making time for our better halves is very important. Making sure your bond and the lines of communication are good are key to having a happy,healthy and successful relationship.  Although you may be tired, find something you can do at least once a week with your significant other to rekindle your dwindling flame. If your flame is not dwindling…..you can still do things to ignite the spark even more.  After surfing the web I came across an article in the Huffington Post written by Doug and Leslie Gustafson, titled 5 Ways to Rekindle Your Marriage:

  1. Let down your guard and let each other in again. If you are really disconnected and passion has waned for sometime, defensiveness and anger may well have taken loving connections place. Surrender your toughness and soften up to each other.
  2. Create a “rekindle” attitude. Make reaching out and pursuing each other your priority and being playful and flirtatious as you once were your focus. So many couples have seemingly forgotten how to flirt and inject energy into the relationship — that once upon a time came so easily.
  3. Identify “passion builders” together that keep positive, exciting energy alive with your lover. Certainly a vibrant sex life helps, but so does positive communication, attention to each other’s wants and needs on a daily basis and having fun together with your clothes on. As far as the sex goes, change it up with novelty — perhaps sex with your socks and hat on, or going out on a date pretending you’ve never met — where you go all out in seducing one another.
  4. Construct a calendar that honors the need to keep love and passion alive.Don’t let kids or anything interfere with keeping your marriage the number 1 priority and growing and deepening your love life. Get your plan in writing and convert it to a weekly, calendared commitment.
  5. Think of your marriage as a “tepee” where you grow and protect love. Don’t let anything or anyone in your tee pee that could get in the way of your sacred connection to each other! Keep your love out of the “cloud.”

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

Teenage Heartbreak

Although I do consider Valentine’s Day to be a commercialized, man-made holiday…..I do appreciate the foundation for which it stands. Valentine’s Day is the day to openly express your love for your loved ones. By openly, I do not mean vulgar……some things need to kept behind closed doors and sometimes vaults! I’m quite sure most of you know what I am speaking of.  Don’t get me wrong, I am for tasteful public displays of affection.  Valentine’s Day is a time to express your love and/or admiration for the special people in your life….not just your significant other.  You do not necessarily have to go spend an arm and a leg to show your appreciation for your loved ones. Yes, commercialization is absolutely a money-maker. There are many other things you could do that cost very little or are absolutely free. Instead of the fancy five coarse meal (nice but not always necessary), cook a nice meal to enjoy by candlelight at home. Enjoy a nice bottle of wine while watching a movie from Redbox. Make you significant other a card. Make them a delicious dessert….who said it has to be imported chocolates? The main point to get across to your loved ones is that they are loved and that you appreciate them and all they do to make your life more meaningful and fulfilled.   I do not think this should just be a once a year occurrence. You should love and cherish the time you have with your loved ones and govern yourself accordingly.  We happened to be Blessed with the most amazing Valentine’s Day gift ever…..the birth of our daughter. Usually on this day we celebrate her. My husband and I celebrate having one another on a daily basis. I know what works for us may not necessarily work for you….just wanted to share some options.

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

 

 

 

Cotton

Cotton

“The fabric of our lives” is the slogan for Cotton Incorporated.  A very true statement, especially for my husband and I.  We recently celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary and there are many threads that are coming together to make us.  As I review the past two years of marriage with the person that I love, I realize that we only just begun weaving the threads together.  We are constantly working to improve our bond by coming to God as one, supporting each other in our endeavors and enjoying special, intimate moments.  Throughout the two years, we have had our share of arguments and achievements.  More days that were good, opposed to bad.  However, our fabric is in no way perfect… and I don’t believe that it is meant to be “perfect”.  Perfection is a standard that we will never reach, so I’d rather stay in the moment and count the blessings that we have made progression.  I admire those that celebrate 20+ years of marriage.  One day I hope that my husband and I reach that milestone, along with more.  After all, with each anniversary the “traditional gift” gets better and better.

Have you sat back and admired your progression with your spouse lately?  Regardless if you have made it to year 2 or year 52… be thankful that you have a partner in life that chose to share their pain, joy and love with you.  Thank your spouse today for what he or she has brought forward into the relationship that makes you strive for progression.

Ways to “Affair-Proof” Your Marriage!!!

affair regret

Ideally we who enter into the union of marriage/relationship do not do so with intent of  failing. No one usually unites in marriage thinking “well once I am divorced…” Of course there are always exceptions to rules. You have people who marry to stay in the USA and those who marry for money etc… Usually there is a mutual understanding between these couples who do not marry for love. While surfing the web this week I came across an article written by Megan Northrup titled Immunized Against Infidelity: “Affair-proofing” Your Marriage; the article is based on a book written Dr. Shirley Glass. Here are some of the things I found most interesting about the article.

Many couples naively insist that they don’t have to worry about infidelity. “It will never happen to us.” Unfortunately, infidelity is surprisingly prevalent in our society. Conservative estimates suggest that between 20 and 25 percent of all Americans will have extramarital sex sometime during their married life (Atkins, Baucom, & Jacobson, 2001). That’s up to one out of four. And the idea that infidelity only happens to bad people in miserable marriages is a myth. It can and does happen, even to good people in happy relationships.

Today’s leading marriage experts have come up with many strategies for preventing infidelity from infiltrating your marriage. As you review the six preventive measures provided below, keep in mind that no one-time event or promise will affair-proof your marriage. Complete fidelity takes constant, conscientious effort. But the work is well worth the joy of having a husband or wife who is your faithful, lifelong best friend. Consider the wise words of author Peggy Vaughn: “Preventing affairs is not like having a one-time inoculation – or even getting occasional booster shots. It’s more like taking a pill every day for the rest of your life.”

Prioritize Your Marriage

“The No. 1 cause for the breakdown in marriages today is the same issue that causes infidelity. Couples aren’t prioritizing their marriage,” says Michele Weiner-Davis, a marriage and family therapist and author. “People spend time on their careers, their kids, community affairs, hobbies, sports. But they take their spouses for granted. It just doesn’t work that way.” In other words, to have a strong marriage, your spouse must come first.

  • Set aside time to spend with just your spouse.
  • Consciously commit to putting your marriage first. That means your spouse comes before everything and everyone else-even your kids.
  • Each day tell your spouse how important he or she is to you.
  • Talk about your commitment to each other. What do you love about being married? Why do you want to stay together? When you’ve had hard times, how did you get through them?
  • Write a “mission statement” for your marriage. Frame it and put it in your bedroom, where it will be a visual reminder of your commitment to each other. You might frame it with your marriage certificate.

Avoid Temptation

Experts are increasingly concerned about two temptation arenas: the workplace and the Internet. One recent study showed that 73 percent of men and 42 percent of women who have extramarital affairs meet their partners at work. Be extremely careful with workplace relationships.

  • Don’t take lunch or coffee breaks with the same person all the time.
  • When you travel with co-workers, meet in public rooms, not in a room with a bed.
  • Meet in groups, if possible.
  • Don’t drink and dance with co-workers at conferences or office parties.
  • Avoid cordial kisses and hugs.
  • Avoid frequent conversations about your personal life and feelings.

On-line relationships are also an increasing problem. Innocent chat room visits can endanger a marriage when someone discovers a “cyberspace soulmate.” When the honesty that’s missing in a marriage gets spilled out on the computer screen, emotional affairs can result, sometimes leading to adultery. Preventive measures include:

  • Avoid discussing emotional topics or personal problems over the Internet.
  • Avoid chat rooms and Internet sites designed for meeting people and socializing.
  • If necessary, limit your time on-line.
  • Use the Internet for productive activities such as researching family history or medical issues, not for making cyber-friends.

Remember that infidelity doesn’t always include sex. Emotional infidelity can breach marital trust and become as debilitating to your marriage as physical adultery. If you are sharing intimate emotional closeness with someone of the opposite sex other than your spouse in any arena, including the Internet, stop!

Know Your Boundaries

Experts say friendships with members of the opposite sex are possible and healthy if both parties know their boundaries. As one author puts it, you have to take an honest look at yourself and admit that maybe you can’t always “handle it.” When you honestly admit what might be a temptation to you, you will know where to draw the line.

  • Know your own vulnerabilities. Are you especially curious about people? Are you extremely empathetic? Do you invite other people to share their problems with you? What might lead you to get emotionally involved with someone else unwittingly or with good intentions?
  • Don’t be afraid to put up emotional “walls” around yourself and your marriage. No marriage is invulnerable. All marriages need protection. You cannot have intimate relationships with opposite sex co-workers and friends and still have a great relationship with your spouse.
  • Together with your spouse, set guidelines for how each of you will behave around members of the opposite sex. For example, you may decide neither of you will dance with someone of the opposite sex. Make these guidelines an agreement you hold each other accountable for.
  • Instead of spending time alone with friends of the opposite sex, make friends with the person as a couple. Have him or her bring a partner and go to dinner with you and your spouse, for example, instead of going to lunch alone.

If you’re wondering whether you’ve overstepped any boundaries, Dr. Shirley Glass says three signs indicate that a friendship between people of the opposite sex has crossed the line into infidelity: (1) emotional intimacy, (2) sexual tension, and (3) secrecy. Also, ask yourself, “Do I say or do things with this person that I wouldn’t want my spouse to see or hear?” If so, it’s time to take a step back and re-draw your boundaries.

Learn Conflict Resolution Skills

According to Dr. Carlfred Broderick, “Perhaps the most important single preventative of adultery is a developed and well-oiled mechanism for dealing with strain in the marriage.” It is crucial that you talk to your spouse about conflicts. Harboring resentment towards a spouse may lead you to seek sympathy from others, which opens you up to emotional attachments outside the marriage. Faithful marriage partners discuss their frustrations openly and honestly and try to reach fair compromises.

  • Be clear. Don’t expect your spouse to know what you’re thinking. If you’re concerned about something, don’t wait for your spouse to notice-tell him or her.
  • When you want to bring up a problem, don’t assign blame. The following statement, for example, blames the other person and is not likely to end in a happy resolution: “The kitchen is a mess and it’s all your fault!” Instead, try something like this: “The dishes didn’t get washed and I think it’s your dish day.”
  • Don’t store up frustrations. Talk about what’s on your mind. It’s harder to deal with resentment productively when you’ve been stewing over it and growing more and more upset until you’re ready to burst.
  • Compromise. When you have a conflict, sit down and think about what you really need versus what you want and what you are willing to give up. Work out a solution that combines each of your individual needs
  • If you have serious resentment over unresolved conflicts, consider seeking help from a qualified professional marriage counselor.

For more help on dealing with marital conflict, see Dr. Gottman’s “Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.” Principles five and six guide couples through dealing with minor and major marital conflicts and avoiding resentment.

Rekindle Romance

Dr. Kevin Leman believes that “as a general rule, satisfied partners do not wander. . . . If marriage partners are getting enough attention, affection, and sexual fulfillment at home, they are not likely to stray into an affair.” This tends to be particularly true of women, who are more likely to have an affair because they feel unhappy or unfulfilled in their marriage than for any other reason.

Dr. Glass points out that when someone has an affair, it doesn’t necessarily mean he or she isn’t “getting enough” at home. It could mean he or she isn’t giving enough. Either way, adding romance to your marriage will help protect against you or your spouse looking elsewhere.

Here are some guidelines for romantic success, suggested by experts Howard Markman, Scott Stanley, and Susan Bloomberg, in their book Fighting for Your Marriage. Take a look at the guidelines and create your own plan for romance in your relationship:

  • Focus on being romantic. Send flowers, romantic email messages, whisper suggestive desires during dinner, or touch his or her leg under the table. At the same time, don’t focus on orgasms or other outcomes. Simply talking as friends and sharing fun times are aphrodisiacs.
  • Focus on wooing your partner, as opposed to taking his or her love for granted. Win his or her love on a daily basis.
  • Be sensitive to your partner’s rhythms, needs, and wishes. Maybe your spouse is a morning person and you are an evening person when it comes to ideal times for intimacy. If so, push yourself to be romantically interested during your partner’s preferred times.
  • Be imaginative and creative. Let your partner know that you care and are attracted to her and want her, but do it in a variety of ways. For example, you might suggest going to work an hour late, or choose an intimate rendezvous at another unplanned time.
  • Be a great lover. When having sex, kiss and touch sensual spots that your partner enjoys—the earlobe, neck, back, or wherever. Talk together about the love areas that are pleasurable and share in mutually enjoyable and agreeable lovemaking.
  • Share initiating of lovemaking. Initiate intimacies at unexpected times and places.

Couple Bonding

Finally, to “affair-proof” your marriage, strengthen and deepen the bond between you and your spouse. “The more a couple knows each other, the better off they are. If you strengthen the bond between the couple, there is not so much temptation to look elsewhere,” says psychologist Susan Townsend.

  • Spend time having meaningful conversations. Set aside a few minutes each day to talk with your spouse. Talk about what you did during the day, what you’ve been thinking about, what you’re feeling. Avoid discussing conflicts during this time.
  • If these conversations don’t come naturally, try sitting down facing each other and doing something relaxing at the same time, like having a cup of coffee or listening to music you both like.
  • Go out on a date with your spouse once a week and choose an activity you enjoy doing together, such as watching a movie, eating out, dancing, bowling. Consider the cost of a babysitter an investment in your marriage and family.
  • Share your fondest dreams with your spouse, no matter how impossible or outlandish they might seem.
  • Be honest with your spouse. Don’t keep secrets from him or her.
  • Regularly attend church, synagogue, or mosque with your spouse. Nurturing your spirituality together can be a powerful way to increase your bond.

So what do you think?