fbq('track', 'Purchase', {value: '0.00', currency:'CAD'});

Open To Influence From Your Partner

When we are open to influence from our partner, we validate them in a substantial way. We help them feel loved, valued and important all at the same time. This ability to listen to and accept our partner, especially when we disagree is an important element of lasting, happy relationships.

Open to Influence

Are You Open To Influence From Your Partner? When couples refuse to allow their partner to have a voice in the relationship or to weigh in on decisions the relationship slowly or sometimes quickly deteriorates. As with other harmful relationship habits, awareness is the place to begin rectifying the problem. I have included a short quiz to help you identify your strength or weakness in this area.

Do not think about how you wish you were or how you want people to think you are; carefully consider your actual behavior in the relationship. Be completely honest with yourself and answer the following questions True or False:

  1. I can accept my partner’s opinion; it is okay if we disagree.
  2. My partner is too irrational; I cannot take him/her seriously when discussing issues.
  3. I want to hear and understand my partner opinions.
  4. Even if we disagree, I appreciate my partner’s insights.
  5. I believe there must be a give and take to our discussions.
  6. My partner comes up with good ideas.
  7. If I don’t make major decisions, no one does in this relationship.
  8. My partner is too often overly emotional.
  9. I want my partner to know that his/her opinions are important to me.
  10. Usually I find it easy to agree with at least part of what my partner says.
  11. I get tired of listening to my partner after a while, or I tune my partner out at times.
  12. Usually I can listen and be respectful, even when I disagree with my partner.
  13. I am very convincing and win more than my share of arguments with my partner.
  14. I feel my opinion matters, when we make decisions.
  15. My partner completely lacks common sense.

For questions 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 14, score one point for each true answer.

For questions 2, 7, 8, 11, 13, 15 score one point for each false answer.

If you scored 13 or more, then being open to your partner’s influence is a solid part of your relationship.

If you did not score high, it does not mean that you cannot have a great relationship, but it does mean that you could benefit from working to become more accepting of and open to your partner. Strive to be more respectful of your partner’s thought and opinions. It is possible that you may have to give up the need to be right and practice allowing your partner to enjoy that opportunity now and again.

Triple Filter Test = Safe Words

Wisdom

I think making use of Socrates Triple Filter Test, could prevent a lot of drama, frustration, hurt feelings and mistrust. Before you share a juicy tidbit, critique your partner or lash out in anger; apply the Triple Filter Test. Too often we open our mouth before we think and then when we stop and think we wish that we could pull back what we said. Somehow, saying “I didn’t mean it” does little to undo the damage done. Most of us have a fairly good filter on what we say when we are in public. However the more comfortable we get with someone, the more we remove our social filter. This may help explain why we often treat those we love worse than we would treat a stranger.

In ancient Greece, Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem. One day an acquaintance met the great philosopher and said, “Do you know what I just heard about your friend?”

“Hold on a minute”, Socrates replied. “Before telling me anything I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Triple Filter Test.”

“Triple filter?”

“That’s right”, Socrates continued. “Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you’re going to say. That’s why I call it the triple filter test. The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?”

“No,” the man said, “Actually I just heard about it and ...”

“All right”, said Socrates. “So you don’t really know if it’s true or not. Now let’s try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?”

“No, on the contrary.”

“So”, Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something bad about him, but you’re not certain it’s true. You may still pass the test though, because there’s one filter left: the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?”

“No, not really.”

“Well”, concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?”

Triple Filter Test:

Is it true?

Is it good?

Is it useful?

I would also like to add, when you are deciding if what you are about to say is true, to stop for a second and remember that just because you think it is true, does not make it true. I have frequently, in my life, jumped to conclusions that I later discovered were far from accurate. The filter is “have you made absolutely sure that [it is] true?”

Using this filter would mean a lot of things would remain unsaid. But considering how hard it is to unsay something, I would suggest that this might be a good thing.

Can You Be Too Nice?

It is an interesting question - can you be too nice? Is it possible that being too nice can harm your relationship? The answer could surprise you. Have you ever said or heard your partner say: “I’m done with this, I don’t want to do anything for anybody ever.” “I am sick of having to make all the decisions. You won’t tell me what you want to do. All you says is whatever I want.” “I get no respect. We always have to do things your way.”

Too Nice

Tensions may arise in your relationship from a surprising source. The things that you think are helping your relationship may not be helping. People, who are too nice in their relationship, in time, tend to feel like they have disappeared into the relationship and may end up feeling that they have to remove themselves from the relationship to re-establish their identity. You can prevent yourself from being swallowed up in your relationship by recognizing when you are being too nice and choosing to be true to yourself in your relationship.

You can be too nice if you consistently do for your partner what they could and should be doing for them self. You can be too nice, if you rescue your partner from the consequences of their actions. You can be too nice if you constantly sacrifice your wants and needs to accommodate your partner’s wants and needs. You can be too nice by tiptoeing around your partner to avoid conflict.

People who are extremely conflict-avoidant and overly concerned with keeping others happy often give up being themselves to be in their relationships. They are afraid to express their thoughts and opinions for fear of upsetting their partner. They refuse to bring up difficult subjects because that might lead to conflict or at minimum an uncomfortable exchange.

They get burned out in their relationship because they are constantly pleasing everyone else, hoping that someone will give back to them. They are frequently disappointed because they refuse to set boundaries around what they are willing and able to do and around how they want to be treated.

Initially the partner may think it is great to have a partner who is constantly giving them what they want and need. In time that partner may become frustrated because they cannot seem to coax an opinion out of their people-pleasing partner. There will definitely be confusion when their people-pleasing partner begins to express their resentment. When people-pleasers gets seriously burned-out, their behavior usually drastically changes from constantly pleasing their partner, to being obnoxious and refusing to do anything for anybody.

We absolutely need to be caring, generous and kind in our relationships. But when being nice prevents healthy open communication, means constantly discounting your own wants and needs, means taking responsibility for your partner’s behavior, you have crossed over into being too nice. Being too nice will build resentment within you and frustration within your partner. In the long run, being too nice will harm your relationship.

Can you be too nice in your relationship? The answer is that as long as you have a backbone and equally respect yourself, you can never be too nice. Be nice, but recognize your limits and set your boundaries accordingly. Be honest with your partner, communicate openly, respect your wants and needs as well as your parrtner’s, allow your partner to experience the consequences of their behavior and expect and allow your partner to contribute meaningfully to the relationship.

Love Yourself, Love Your Partner

Far too often in counseling sessions I have heard things like: I don’t feel like s/he loves me, I feel like I come second, third or fourth, I feel put aside, I feel unappreciated. Statements like these are often followed by, “I love him (her), but I am not in love with him (her).” When people’s needs are not being met in their relationship there is a tendency to withdraw and withhold, creating an even larger wedge between partners.

Love

Our unsatisfied needs move us to action. When we are feeling that our partner does not love us or that we are not important to them, we will do things to try and reassure ourselves that we are loved and important to our partner. Too often the action that we take moves us farther away, rather than closer to getting our needs met. Consider the wife who feels neglected because her husband is frequently staying late at work. When he does finally get home she is sullen, hurt and angry. What she needs is to feel loved and like he values and wants to spend time with her. However, her behavior ends up pushing him farther away and the time that they do spend together is unsatisfying to both.

For each of us, it is ultimately our own responsibility to meet our own needs. That being said, it feels amazing when our partner helps us to get our needs met. We cannot control what our partner does. We cannot make them behave as if they love us or as if we are important to them. But we can control our thoughts and actions. We can behave as though we love them and they are important to us. Feeling that our needs are not being met can at times make us blind to the needs of those around us.

Before you can jump in and work at meeting your partner’s needs, it is vitally important to first take some time to work on meeting your own needs. Give yourself the gift of loving and accepting yourself. Give yourself the gift of acknowledging and knowing that you are important and that you are worth it. Self-sooth. Find ways to strengthen and energize yourself. Love yourself first, then offer love to your partner.

When you come at trying to help your partner feel loved and important, from a place of knowing that you are loved and important by and to yourself, then your feelings will be more those of giving rather than resenting. When your partner’s needs are met, it is more likely that they will be more aware of your needs and behave in ways that helps you get your needs met. As you can see from the example above, unmet needs too often lead to behavior that is counter-productive. At those times, it takes skill to recognize the need underneath your partner’s behavior.

You can choose to deal with what you can control and decide to reach out to your partner and focus on giving, rather than worrying about what you are not getting. Be aware of the human tendency to give love in ways that feel loving to you. It is extremely important to know your partner and to learn what it is that feels loving to them. Giving gifts of love can feel like a credit or deposit in their emotional bank account. But as Stephen Covey pointed out, “Nothing you do is a deposit unless the other person perceived it as such. “

If you do not know your partner and do not give in ways that are meaningful and feel loving to them then your sacrifices and gifts of love will not be recognized as such. When we focus on giving love, rather than focusing on what we are not getting, we will feel more loving toward our partner and hopefully they, as their emotional bank account fills up, will start behaving and feeling more loving in return.

Boundaries Protect Relationships

Setting boundaries is an important relationship skill. Good boundaries protect relationships. Many people find it difficult to ask for what they want. They go through life giving to and pleasing their partner, hoping that some day their partner will return the favor. Resentment and frustration can build until the pendulum swings too far and those who for years have been bending over backwards to please others, suddenly become obnoxiously insistent that things go their way for a change. Finding the balance between being too passive and too aggressive can be a challenge.

The following 4 tips can help you achieve an assertive balance when setting your boundaries.

Boundaries

1. Know Yourself In order to be assertive, you first need to know your values, preferences, and limits. It is important to recognize the difference between your principles and values, and your preferences. Once you are clear on who you are and what is really important to you, it becomes easier to share this with your partner.

2. Set Boundaries Share your expectation with your partner. When setting boundaries, be honest, direct and specific. Try to create boundaries based on your values and principles, rather than preferences. Cleanliness is a value; the color of the towels in the bathroom is a preference. Try to remain open and flexible about preference; and firm and consistent about values. The more we stay true to our values the better we feel in our life. Persistence is key when setting boundaries. It becomes easier with practice and it is freeing to be open about your needs and desires.

3. Open Your Mouth Your partner cannot read your mind. If you want your needs to be met, the best way to help that happen is to open your mouth. You can start small by expressing your preferences for shows to watch, places to eat, and things to do for fun. It can be easier to start by talking about how you felt about things that happened in the past and what you would have preferred and work up to expressing how you feel about what is happening as it is happening.

4. Be The Example Of What You Want Respecting your partner’s boundaries sets an excellent example for your partner. If he wants you to call if you are going to be home late, then call. If she wants you to keep the clutter off the bedroom dresser, then do so. The small choices we make every day, speak volumes to our partner. You can also check in with your partner to see if what you are expecting and asking seems like a reasonable request to them. Your partner may be more willing to respect your boundaries if they feel respected in return.

If you have clearly set your boundaries, you are being respectful and consistent in setting or maintaining your boundaries and your partner still refuses to respect you and your boundaries, it may be time to consider seeking professional help.

Finding Your Sense of Humor In Your Relationship

Smile

Humor can be a great stress releaser. It can improve your health and your enjoyment of life. Playfulness helps you stay feeling younger. Improving your sense of humor will make it less likely that you will overreact to each other. A healthy sense of humor may help keep you from getting offended easily over little things. Sharing humor in your relationship will not only help you connect as a couple, but also make your time together more pleasurable. Take the challenge to increase your sense of humor by completing one item from the list below each day for the next 20 days.

Some ideas for adding humor to your relationship:

1. Reminisce about funny memories; make sure that you are not laughing at each other. Unless you are both laughing, it is not funny.

2. Focus on what is great about your life. Spend a few moments each day appreciating what was great about the day. Express your gratitude to each other.

3. Share ‘the funniest thing that happened today’ stories.

4. Do not take yourself too seriously; be willing to find the humor in your mistakes. A healthy sense of humor can help dissipate the sense of shame that sometimes accompanies being less than perfect.

5. Laugh daily. Even if to start with you simply have to choose to pretend to laugh, find ways to laugh every day.

6. Bring humor into your life. Watch a funny movie, spend time with friends who love to laugh, look for humor in unexpected places.

7. Enjoy playing with your pet. Pets have a way of getting you to relax and laugh at their antics. If you do not have a pet, youtube has a great collection of funny pet videos.

8. Spend time playing with children. Children tend to laugh spontaneously and spending time playing with a child may be just what you need to get you smiling and laughing along with them.

9. Find the humor in difficult situations. Often years later you can see the humor, the challenge is to look for the humor sooner.

10. Smile. Smile at each other. Smile at others and watch most of them smile back at you.

Improving your sense of humor in your relationship will help you as a couple to feel closer to each other, be more creative in solving problems and increase your enjoyment of not only your time together, but will most likely have spill-over effects in all areas of your life.

Goal Setting For Couples

Setting goals as a couple may help you revitalize and increase your relationship satisfaction. Standing water stagnates, moving water remains fresh. The difference between standing water and running water is motion. Setting and working towards goals helps you add motion to your relationship as you consciously work toward and create the life you want for yourselves.

Goal setting for couples:

When setting your couple goals, you may want to consider these areas: mental, emotional, physical, family, social and spiritual. You can have goals for personal and couple growth, finances, vacations, and a myriad of other things. Your couple goals need to align with both of your values and they should be something that you can both get excited about working together to accomplish.

Having a sense of purpose in life tends to increase your happiness. Making and working toward goals can increase that sense of purpose. Make goals that are attainable, but not too easy. You want to aim for something that will make you stretch. Remember to celebrate the little successes along the way and celebrate achieving your goal.

10 Steps To Achieving Your Couple Goals:

1. Brainstorm ideas—at this point there is no judgment or poo pooing allowed. Write down every suggestion.

2. Talk about your ideas—look at this as a way to get to know your partner better. Spend an evening talking, replace the inclination to judge or discourage with curiosity.

3. Each of you choose your top three goals. If you happen to have overlapping goals, great, you have a place to start. If you don't have overlapping goals then each of you choose one goal from your partner's list of top three goals to work on as a couple.

4. Record either the overlapping goals or the two choices from the other's list of three goals. Remember to review your goals frequently. You may want to post them somewhere you will see them often.

5. Decide on the first step that will move you toward reaching your goal and proceed to work on it. Remember couple goals means working together.

6. Choose a time to sit down together to evaluate your progress.

7. Decide on the next step to take toward reaching your goal and do it.

8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 until your have accomplished your goal.

9. Celebrate! Don't forget to enjoy the process.

10. Choose new goals and repeat the process from step 1 (you could use your original brainstorming list or you could create a new list).

Achieving goals is great, but remember the process of working together is equally or more important than the results. The process of setting and working together to achieve common goals will strengthen your bond to each other and make your relationship a more vibrant and satisfying place to be.

Are You Fighting Fair? Rate Yourself

Take a few minutes to assess how you are doing in the fighting fair department. Sometimes couples are very aware that their fights are not fair. At other times one or both of them may be unaware of how destructive their fighting patterns are. Doing the following assessment, may help you pinpoint things that you could do to insure that the conflict in your relationship is constructive rather than destructive. Are you fighting fair?

Rate yourself: Answer each of the following questions true or false.

1. Do you believe that conflict means you don't love each other?

2. Do you think that angry feelings should not be expressed?

3. Do you believe that conflict is inevitable and can be positive?

4. Do you find yourself blaming your partner for the problems in your relationship?

5. Do you initiate a fight late at night or at other inopportune times (like when you are about to visit your in-laws)?

6. Do you carefully choose where and when you bring up problems?

7. Do you say mean things to your partner, especially about things s/he cannot change?

8. Do you ever start fights with your partner when you are actually angry with someone else?

9. Do you discuss your concerns soon after the incident rather than bringing it up months later in the middle of a fight?

10. Do you have repeated fights about things that happened in the past?

11. Do you use blaming and accusing language like “you always”, “you never”, or “you are such a __”?

12. Do you stick to the issue you are concerned about and deal with one issue at a time?

13. Do you call your partner nasty names?

14. Are you ever trying to get even with or punish your partner?

15. Do you make positive rather than negative requests of your partner, like “could you please (insert specific positive request)” rather than “stop it”?

16. Do you blame yourself for your conflicts?

17. Do you ever throw things at your partner when you are angry?

18. Do you believe you can and should express your anger constructively?

19. Do you belittle, shame or speak condescendingly to your partner?

20. During a fight, do you yell at your partner?

21. Do you actively listen to your partner's point of view during a disagreement?

22. Have you ever been physically aggressive toward your partner?

23. Do you have to be right at all costs?

24. Do you call for a time out when you are getting too angry to continue?

25. Do you respect your partner's requests for a time out?

To score the assessment:

Give yourself one point for any Questions numbered 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24 & 25 to which you answered True.

Give yourself one point for each of the other questions to which you answered False.

The higher your score, out of 25 points, the more you fight fair. If you scored less than 15 or if you ever exhibit aggressive behavior toward your partner, you are not fighting fair. Go back and carefully consider your answers to the questions and notice areas where you could make some changes to help your conflicts be constructive rather than destructive.

Celebrate Success

Celebrate

Whenever I'm disappointed with my spot in my life, I stop and think about little Jamie Scott. Jamie was trying out for a part in a school play. His mother told me that he'd set his heart on being in it, though she feared he would not be chosen. On the day the parts were awarded, I went with her to collect him after school. Jamie rushed up to her, eyes shining with pride and excitement. "Guess what Mom," he shouted, and then said those words that will remain a lesson to me: "I've been chosen to clap and cheer." Author Unknown

When was the last time you told your partner that they were amazing? When did you last tell them that they said something brilliant? Have you ever been guilty of shrugging off something that they were excited to share with you?

It requires confidence and maturity to truly join with our partner as they celebrate success. When we have learned to love and accept ourselves, we are far less likely to feel threatened by the good fortunes of others. When we learn to clap and cheer for our partner and recognize that their success in no way diminishes us, we finally double our joy. We become the amplifier of their joy, rather than the wet blanket that dampens their moment.

When we let our pride get in the way and rather than celebrate with them, we discount our partner’s success, possibly because we are secretly jealous of their accomplishment, we not only hurt our partner, but we make ourselves smaller as well. Let’s practice catching ourselves and be more willing to take our turn clapping and cheering.

What Is It Like To Live With Me?

You have probably heard the cliche, talk is cheap. But there is wisdom contained in this concept and it applies doubly in relationships. It can be eye-opening to contemplate the questions: What is it like to live with me? Consider if your behavior backs up your claims that you love your partner. Words like, “I'm sorry” or “I love you,” quickly begin to lose their meaning if those words are not followed by loving actions. There are many ways to put your love into actions. The most important thing to remember is that you want to choose loving actions that would be interpreted as loving by your partner.

love

Take a few minutes to make a list of the things that you do for and with your partner to demonstrate your love for them. If your list is short or if you are having trouble thinking of things to put on the list, then it may be time to start putting your words into actions. Once you have a list of what you do to show your love for your partner, ask your partner to prepare a list of actions that would feel loving to them. Comparing these two lists will help you see how on target your loving actions are. Below are a few examples of loving actions. You can experiment a little and find out which ones best suit your partner. Feel free to brainstorm to personalize the list.

Do something together:

  • Read a book (take turns reading)
  • Play a sport
  • Play a board game
  • Take a walk
  • Go to the gym

Support your partner:

  • Help around the house
  • Give your partner some space
  • Listen actively
  • Compliment and hug your partner
  • Discuss a problem and find a win win solution

Continue Courting:

  • Plan a date night your partner would love
  • Bring home flowers or a small gift
  • Leave love notes where your partner will find them
  • Meet each other for lunch
  • Plan a getaway weekend

Sacrifice for each other:

  • Make things that are important to your partner important to you
  • Make time for your partner when they need you
  • Give up a habit that frustrates or irritates your partner
  • Accept each other warts and all

Please remember that it is important to be patient when making efforts to improve your relationship. Often people will try behaving more lovingly for a week or two and then get discouraged because their partner has not seemed to notice or has not reciprocated enough. Consistency and patience are required. If we change our attitude to one of generosity and worry less about what we are getting back our gifts of love will have far more impact.

Change Your Perspective

I had an interesting experience the other day while driving with my husband. I happened to notice that the side windows of my car had a mottled smokey pattern and I asked my husband why the windows were like that. He looked at the windows and said he saw no pattern there. To which I replied it was so obvious, could he not see. It was right there. We went back and forth like this for a while, him trying to convince me that there was nothing to see and me trying to convince him that there most definitely was something to see. I was tempted to ask him if he was blind, when I happened to notice that he was not wearing sunglasses and I was. I took off my sunglasses and handed them to him. He then said, "Oh, I see what you are talking about."

perspective

That experience started me wondering how often we may misunderstand our partner simply because we are not able to see as they see. If it were possible for us to put on a pair of glasses and see things from our partner's point of view, many disputes would be much easier to resolve.

How often do you find yourself trying to convince your parter that something is so, just to have them try to convince you that the opposite is true? In those situations both of you could benefit from exchanging glasses, so that you could each see from the other's perspective.

Instead of getting frustrated, like I was when I wondered if my husband was blind because he could not see what was so obvious to me, try to find a way to express yourself that helps your partner see what you see. Find a way to hand them a pair of glasses to help them see. You may have to put what you are saying in terms that make sense to your partner, try relating it to something that they have experienced. Remember that to appreciate what salt tastes like you first need to taste it. But this is not only about helping them see what you see, it is also about you seeing from their perspective.

Men and women may have difficulty communicating because they lack a common experience to draw from in order to make sense of what is being said. Even when they have the same experience, because of the different ways the male and the female brains work, they may still lack a common experience. In general women integrate emotions and logic; where men tend to compartmentalize. Men tend to think in a focused and linear manner and women to think broadly, constantly interconnecting and linking everything together.

The next time you find yourself thinking that perhaps your partner is blind, because they cannot see the obvious, pause and take the following challenge. Give each other 2 minutes to explain your thoughts and position as clearly as you can to the other. Make sure you each repeat in your own words what your partner has said. Allow your partner to clarify any misunderstandings. Then spend the next 5 minutes taking the other person's position. Discuss the issue, as if you each were doing your best to convince each other from your partner's perspective. When you change your perspective, so that you are looking through their glasses understanding grows, and you may become less concerned with being right.

What's Good About Your Partner's Annoying Characteristics?

It is ironic that the very things that attracted us to our partner in the first place, over time often turn into our pet peeves about them. He was calm and quiet, turns into he never shows his feelings. She was the life of the party and so much fun, turns into she is loud and obnoxious. She was independent, now she is stubborn and controlling. He was laid back and fun, now he is irresponsible and childish.

Those cute quirks that seemed attractive at the beginning of the relationship can end up grating on our nerves. They become the annoying characteristics that begin to fray our nerves.  These things become annoying over time partly because we spend so much time together and partly because the rose colored glasses come off and reality sets in.

It is important to recognize that it is not how our partner is that annoys us. This is clear, because mostly in the beginning we either appreciated that quality or easily overlooked it. What annoys us is the judgment that we put on what they are doing. It is the thoughts that we think about how they are or what they are doing. When we identify our partner as irresponsible rather than laid back; stubborn rather than independent, or unfeeling rather than calm, simply by the language we are using, we greatly increase our annoyance factor.

When we try to find the positive side of our partner's annoying characteristics and we reframe what we are saying to ourselves, we may find that our annoyance level drops. Try thinking of the worst opposite you possibly can to your partner’s annoying characteristic. For example, if your partner is stubborn, try thinking, “Well at least they are not completely wishy washy and can never make a decision.” If they happen to be wishy washy and can never make a decision try thinking, “Well at least they do not make rash decision.”

Besides giving us the opportunity to increase our patience and tolerance, our partner's annoying characteristics teach us about ourselves. Partly because what annoys us most in others is usually something that we do not like about ourself. And partly because if we look closely enough we will discover that we are redirecting our frustration by pointing out their flaws. We may find it difficult to honestly talk with our partner about problems in our relationship and as the resentment build up it becomes more and more difficult to overlook their annoying quirks.

We have the opportunity to stop focusing on our partner's flaws and do some soul searching, to examine and learn our own flaws. This gives us the chance to grow as a person. We also have the opportunity to practice being open, honest and assertive with our partner so that our relationship can be healthier and their characteristic can again become more endearing than annoying.

Planned Intimacy

Failing to plan for intimacy too often means it is left till the end of a busy day where it can become, for some, just one more thing they have to do so they can get to sleep. Planned intimacy means that you and your partner are going to schedule in time for intimacy in your lives. This is not to be confused with scheduling sex. It does however create the opportunity and helps create the atmosphere that may greatly increase your chances of making love.

Intimacy

Clients will comment that planned intimacy does not sound romantic or spontaneous. I am not sure where the idea that intimacy and sex must be spontaneous comes from, perhaps from television, movies or romantic novels. But the reality is that without some forethought the frequency of intimacy and as a result sex are likely to decline as your relationship matures. Continuing to court and to plan for intimate times together after marriage just means that you continue feeding the fire of your passion rather than letting it fade and turn cold.

In order for planned intimacy to work, sex cannot be the goal or even on the agenda. The goal of planned intimacy is to connect as a couple—to see and look at each other, to listen to each other, to cuddle and be close, and to spend time together. You can reminisce, talk about hopes and dreams, go for a walk, hold hands, or play a fun game. What you do does not matter as much as the attitude with which you do it. A minimum of once a week for a least an hour and daily time together for at least 15 minutes are good targets to aim for when scheduling your planned intimacy.

There are only two rules for planned intimacy: 1. Just the two of you. 2. Most important, turn off the distractions and tune into one another.

At times your planned intimacy time may result in love-making. This is much more likely to happen if neither of you is pushing for it to happen. If you feel a great deal of resistance to the idea of planned intimacy, it is likely that the two of you have already grown apart and you are possibly withholding affection and avoiding situations that could lead to sex. Knowing that planned intimacy does not obligate you to have sex, may make it possible for you to experiment with planned intimacy to discover if it will help the two of you rebuild your connection.

Recharge Your Relationship

Everyday, most people, especially young people, are constantly on electronic devices, phones, ipads, computers and a myriad of others. These devices all have batteries and usually give a warning when the battery is running low and they must be plugged in or they will die. Similarly our relationships require recharging if they are to have a long life. Is your relationship running on reserve power? Is it limping along and near the breaking point? Is it time to recharge your relationship? Your phone or computer are not very useful or fun when they are dead.

Relationships are extremely stressful when they are dying. If your partner has tried to communicate to you that there is something missing in your relationship, then you want to pay attention. This important information is indicating that your relationship could benefit from recharging. And just as the reminders to recharge your phone will run out and your phone will die. Your partner will at some point give up asking for what they need and your relationship may end.

Although it can be tempting for those who want to avoid conflict to deny, ignore or put their heads in the sand, when relationship problems begin, this approach generally leads to further relationship deterioration. Many hope that if they just carry on somehow things will resolve themselves, but this usually ends in frustration and disappoint.

When was the last time you recharged your relationship battery? Recharging your relationship is not quite as simple as plugging a cord into the wall, but it is relatively easy. However unlike electronic devices which you run until they warn you to charge them, relationships respond best when you form habits of recharging regularly.

Consistently making your relationship a priority and creating time for each other may be the most important way to put life back in your relationship. Go on a date at least once a week, talk to each other everyday about more than the kids or what needs to be done and most of all smile at each other. Practice focusing on what is great about your relationship and about your partner, rather than nit picking at each other's faults. Expressing gratitude and acceptance are also great ways to recharge your relationship.

Each time you plug in your computer, phone or other electronic device, let it remind you to also put your time and effort into recharging your relationship.

Rebuilding Trust

Rebuild Trust

Trust builds naturally in the beginning of a relationship. But once that trust is broken, whether it is through lying or infidelity, it takes time and effort to rebuild. Too often partners who are conflict-avoidant will choose to lie to avoid upsetting their partner. The problem with this strategy for avoiding conflict is that it actually leads to more conflict down the road. The lies are eventually discovered and then mistrust is heaped on top of other feelings. Trust can be rebuilt if you are willing to invest time and energy in the process. There are some specific things that each of you can do to help move you toward a happy future together.

If you have broken trust:

  • Recognize that it will take time to rebuild the trust.
  • Accept that you must change your behavior to rebuild trust (stop lying or cut off contact with other man or woman).
  • Accept responsibility for your actions and make a heartfelt apology.
  • Be patient with your partner.
  • Avoid saying things like: “It is in the past,” or “Get over it already”.
  • Listen to your partner's hurt, anger and frustration.
  • Validate your partner's feelings.
  • Accept that your partner has reason to mistrust you and that you must be consistent in re-earning their trust.
  • Share your concerns about problems in the relationship, not as an excuse for your behavior, but to improve your relationship.
  • Focus on the postives in your relationship.
  • Choose to think about, speak to and behave lovingly toward your partner.

If your trust has been broken:

  • Recognize that it will take time to trust your partner again.
  • Express your anger and frustration is constructive ways—do not attack your partner physically or verbally.
  • Be patient with your partner
  • Do not blame yourself for your partner's behavior, they are 100% responsible for their choices
  • Examine your own contribution to relationship problems
  • Listen to your partner's concerns about problems in the relationship
  • Validate your partner's feelings
  • Share your concerns about problems in the relationship
  • Focus on the positives in your relationship
  • Choose to think about, speak to and behave lovingly toward your partner

Rebuilding trust can be extremely challenging. It can be difficult to break the cycle of hurting and anger. Seeking professional help may be beneficial.

What Kind Of Couple Do You Want To Be?

sharedvision

Unless you take time to consider and decide what kind of couple you want to be, chances are you will unconsciously try to create a relationship similar to those you grew up with. As a couple you have an opportunity to create the kind of relationship that you want. However it takes some conscious thought to stop running the childhood tapes and choose the life you want. You are unique and you want your relationship to nurture your individuality as well as your coupleness.

Get out a pencil and paper or your laptops. Each of you complete the following sentence stems. Complete each one as many times as you can in 2 -5 minutes. I am . . . You are . . . As a couple we are . . . Loving me means . . . (list what feels loving to you) Loving you means. . . (list what you do to show your love for your partner) Respecting me means . . . (list what feels respectful to you) Respecting you means . . . (list ways that you show respect for your partner) To me it is important that we . . . I have always wanted to be the couple who . . .

Once you have completed the above sentence stems, spend some time sharing and talking about your answers. This will help you learn more about each other and about each of your hopes and expectations for your relationship. You will discover what feels loving to each of you, an invaluable piece of the puzzle. Your challenge is to build your relationship around your strengths as individuals and as a couple.

To complete the exercise, write a list of five to ten things that you can each do to help you be the kind of couple that you want to be.

This would also be an excellent exercise to repeat yearly. One of the common mistakes couples make is to stop sharing who they are and what they want with their partner. As you grow as individuals and as a couple, help keep your relationship strong by continuing to share.

Libido Killers

kissing

There are many factors that can distract, discourage or dampen libido. These are the libido killers. Libido killers affect both men and women. The myth that men always want sex and women never do is simply a myth. In my counselling practice I have seen nearly as many men with low libidos as women.

The following are some factor that tend to reduce libido:

Body Image This issue is not gender specific, both men and women can struggle with body image issues. When you are unhappy or disgusted with your body, the tendency is to hide, to limit and to feel at the very least uncomfortable getting naked and intimate. The shame interferes and can make it almost impossible to relax and enjoy lovemaking.

Past Abuse Sexual molestation or abuse can create associations and feelings that intrude on intimate moments. It can be difficult to leave the past in the past. There may be a pull back reaction, where sex feels like something that should be avoided rather than enjoyed.

Emotional Struggles Depression can leave people uninterested in life, let alone intimate relations. Whether it is cause or affect depression and lowered libido often go hand in hand. As well, antidepressants can have unwanted sexual side effects.

Relationship Problems A lack of intimacy and closeness in the relationship can lead to withdrawal and a loss of interest in lovemaking. Unresolved conflicts can contribute to a build up of resentment, which has the effect of throwing a wet blanket on the flickering candle of desire.

Parenting Busy lives, lack of time alone or privacy and shifting priorities can create roadblocks to sexual expression. Focusing too much attention on the children and no attention on strengthening the couple relationship can seriously decrease libido.

Grief or Loss Grief can bring up anger and sadness, that for periods of time may consume your attention, leaving little room for interest in lovemaking. For some it can feel wrong to enjoy life when their loved one is gone.

Lack of Confidence A lack of confidence in yourself or in your sexual abilities may cause you to talk yourself out of being sexual before you even begin. A sense of confidence makes it easier to feel sensual and to act on those feelings.

Stress When stress levels escalate, it can be difficult to shut off the worries long enough to enjoy being intimate with your partner. Sex can start to feel like just one more thing on the to-do list.

Sleep Deprivation When sex is left to the end of a busy day at the end of a busy week, there can be little motivation and no energy left to feel interested in lovemaking. People can simply be too tired to care.

Relationship Myths = Unrealistic Expectations

Unmet expectations are probably the biggest cause of frustration in marriage. When expectations are constantly being dashed, we at first become disappointed, later discouraged and finally disillusioned. We can end up believing that it is impossible for our partner to make us happy or perhaps that we were not meant for each other. When we feel this kind of disappointment and discouragement in our relationship it is important to stop and take a look at our expectations. We could probably benefit from considering some of the relationship myths surrounding marriage and taking time to evaluate whether or not our expectations are realistic.

myths.jpg

Exploding some of the relationship myths surrounding marriage could lead to accepting more realistic expectations. Perhaps we would set ourselves up for satisfaction rather than disappointment. The following are relationship myths that can lead to frustration in marriage and the corresponding realities:

1. Myth: A “good” marriage will always be romantic.

There will be ups and down. Reality sometimes gets in the way of romantic feelings. There will be times when you do not feel very in love, if at those times you choose to behave lovingly, the loving feelings will return. Love is a verb; action is required.

2. Myth: Feeling or expressing jealousy shows that we care and love each other.

Jealousy reveals insecurities rather than love.

3. Myth: Marriage will make me happy.

True happiness comes from within; no one can make you happy. Happiness is a choice.

4. Myth: If we really love each other, nothing else will matter.

Marriage needs nurturing. Little daily interactions are the big things in relationships. Treating each other with love and respect at all times is vital.

5. Myth: My partner should intuitively know my needs; if I have to ask it does not count.

Mind reading is impossible. Give yourself permission to ask for what you want. At the same time recognize that your partner may not be able to or willing to give you everything that you ask for and that is okay. Recognize that the ultimate responsibility for meeting your own needs belongs to you.

6. Myth: Conflict means that we do not love each other.

Conflict is inevitable, but it does not have to damage your relationship. Learn to listen to each other first, to disagree agreeably and to fight fair. Conflict is not the problem, the problem comes from how you handle the conflict.

7. Myth: Men and women get over conflict in the same way.

Women tend to be more concerned with analyzing the state of their relationships and will often take longer to feel that a conflict has been resolved. They frequently cannot release a conflict until it has been talked through. Men are better at compartmentalizing and will seldom bring up a conflict after the fact, to talk it through.

8. Myth: Once trust is broken, we can never trust again.

It takes time and effort to rebuild trust. It require patience and commitment to spend the time necessary to rebuild trust, but it is entirely possible when both partners are willing.

9. Myth: We are not getting along, having a baby will make things better.

Having a child will bring more stress to an already stressed relationship. Having children gives parents an opportunity to stretch and grow themselves, sometimes a painful process.

10. Myth: To have a good relationship we need to frequently talk about issues and problems.

Being problem focused will tend to lead to seeing more and more problems. It is important to communicate about issues and concerns; however it is far more important to talk frequently about what is going right in the relationship.

We can avoid unnecessary frustrations by examining our expectations and by bringing our expectation more in line with reality. When we let go of the myths we free ourselves of those unrealistic expectations and the resulting disappointments and frustrations.

20 Ways To Make Your Relationship Last

Loveheart.jpg

Maturity is probably the most fundamental factor in determining if relationships last. Many of the items listed below require discipline and maturity. Choosing to grow up together is a great way to make your relationship last.

1. Choose to accept compliments and loving gestures from your partner.

2. Make spending time with your partner a top priority.

3. Continue creating happy memories and enjoy reminiscing together.

4. Enjoy social outings together; find something you both enjoy or take turns enjoying each others functions.

5. Forgive your partner and yourself for past hurts.

6. Make time for intimacy in your life.

7. Guard against thinking or doing things you would not want your partner to know about.

8. Enjoy time apart and look forward to time together.

9. Think and speak well of your partner; when talking to others share positive opinions and experiences involving your partner.

10. Plan and enjoy a weekly date and an annual or biannual couple get aways.

11. Talk and share your thoughts, feeling, fears, dreams and hopes with each other.

12. Find out what feels loving to your partner and show your love to them in ways that feel loving to them.

13. Listen to your partner and allow them to influence you.

14. Move toward each other rather than finding ways to avoid spending time together.

15. Be healthy and take care of your appearance.

16. Plan your finances and make important financial decisions together.

17. Refuse to compare your partner to others, especially in a negative way.

18. Look at your partner in loving ways and express gratitude to and for them.

19. Fantasize about your partner.

20. If you have addictions find help to rid yourself of them – whether it is food, substances, sex, gambling or whatever; addictions numb your feelings and cause havoc with relationships.

Make your relationship last. Lasting relationships require commitments and effort. But a lasting relationship makes life so much more rewarding. When you strengthen your relationship, you also strengthen yourself. It is the little things done consistently make a huge difference in whether your relationship lasts or fails. Choose to do those things that build rather than erode your relationship.

Making A Good Marriage Great

Whether you are just beginning your relationship or you have had many years together, you can benefit from implementing the following suggestions on making a good marriage great. Marriage is like a living entity and it is either nurtured and growing or it is neglected and crumbling. Hopefully, like mutual funds, over time the trend will be upward. Unfortunately in marriage you do not get to coast for long. The good news is that making your marriage great is simple, not to be confused with easy.

  • Be more concerned about we than me. Selfishness is a relationship killer. Taking your partner's thoughts and feelings into consideration at all times helps you make choices that benefit both of you.
  • Be realistic about expectations. Romance novels are not a good source for relationship templates. What expectation are realistic for your relationship, is something the two of you need to agree upon. Your relationship is unique and needs to work for both of you.
  • Reduce stress. Finding ways to reduce work and other stress can improve your marriage; a happy marriage also makes the rest of your life easier as well.
  • Reminisce. Spend time now and then talking about how we met, started dating, fell in love. Don't worry if your story is not overly dramatic or romantic. Enjoy the fact that it is your story.
  • Live now. Don't get stuck ruminating about your wedding day, good or bad, focus on making your life together. Be present now, enjoy each day you have together and plan for your future.
  • Pay attention to the little things. Daily acts of kindness and consideration are the live-blood of any extraordinary relationship.
  • Solve the solvable problems. Address the minor issues, so they don't build up.
  • Keep or find your sense of humor. There is a quote that says, “Parenting without a sense of humor, is like being an accountant who sucks at math.” This applies doubly to marriage.
  • Focus on the positive. Enough said.
  • Be the change you want in your relationship. Take ownership of your contributions to problems and control what you can control, your words and behavior.
  • Be empathetic. Be willing to see things from your partner's point of view.
  • Make time for each other NOW. Consistency is the key, no matter what else is going on in your life, make time for each other. There may be occasions when it may not be a lot of time, but when making time for each other is your habit, you will know that you can count on each other.