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improve relationship

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.

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.

Stress Challenges Relationships

Stress narrows our focus of attention often to the exclusion of our partner. If one or both of you are stressed, anxious or completely preoccupied with worries about work or home, you are not able to give caring attention to each other. You may be physically present, but you are not mentally or emotionally present with your partner. Excess stress can make it difficult to focus on simple daily activities, let alone be passionately involved in lovemaking. Sometimes couples are unaware that it is the stress that is creating the feeling of distance between them, and they make things worse by reacting to feeling ignored or left out. They may end up blaming each other and pulling further apart.

Taking a step back can help us gain some perspective and recognize that it is difficult for anyone to feel close when stress levels are high. Recognizing that it is the stress, rather than our partner that is causing the distance in the relationship can help us be more understanding.

When you find yourself clashing with your partner or feeling particularly testy, stop and take an accounting of your stress level and your partner's stress level. What else is going on in your life that may be contributing to your unhappy feelings? Often relationships will struggle when one partner goes back to school or gets a new job or there are financial difficulties. Recognizing that the problem is the increased stress and not the two of you can help you weather the inevitable storms of life. You can learn to be supportive of each other, rather than reactive. When your partner takes something out on you because they are stressed, you will be less likely to take it personally, but will recognize it for what it is—the stress talking.

If your life is full of chronic stress, it may be worth examining your beliefs and attitudes. Do you believe that you deserve a happy relationship and that this is possible for you? Do you want to enjoy your relationship and your life? This may seem like a silly question, however, if you answered yes, then ask yourself, “What am I doing to make this happen?”

Find ways to slow down, step back, and take a time out from the stress in your life.

Increase Happiness: Improve Your Relationship

There may be a bit of a chicken an egg dilemma here. Does improving your relationship improve your happiness or does improving your happiness improve your relationship? The answer is yes! Both are true. When you are happier your relationship tends to improve and improving your relationship makes it easier to feel happy. Healthy relationships are key to lasting happiness. Where to begin? The easiest place to begin is to SMILE. Right now, choose to smile, even if you do not feel like smiling. When you choose to smile, your brain starts to take that as a signal that you are happy. Make an effort to smile often, every day and you may notice that you start to feel happier.

Next, express your admiration and affection to your partner. Start trying to catch your partner doing something right. Let them know that you notice and appreciate it. Give your partner at least two genuine compliment a day. When you start to do this, you may notice that your partner starts to smile more too.

Finally, practice gratitude. Every morning when you wake up mentally rehearse as least five things for which you are grateful. Every night just before sleeping focus again on those things for which you are grateful. Remember that happiness does not come from having what we want; it comes from being grateful for what we have.

The happier you are, the more likely you are to have a happy, lasting relationship. The happier you are, the more likely you are to have great friends and family and to feel satisfied with your family and social life. Start now by choosing to smile. Start looking for reasons to be happy and you will begin to find them.

Self-Care Improves Relationships

Eating healthy, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep, surprisingly enough, may improve the quality of your relationship. Taking responsibility to take good care of your self makes it easier to be your best self in your relationship. A healthy diet helps to strengthen your immune system and protect your health. Poor health can decrease your quality of life and put extra stress on your relationship. Eating regular balanced and healthy meals, including lots of fruits and vegetables, helps to keep your energy high. When you feel healthy and energetic, you tend to feel more generous, optimistic and patient, all good for your relationship.

SleepExercising regularly can improve your mood and increase your libido. Activity improves blood flow, as well as releasing endorphins or feel-good chemicals in the brain. When you are physically fit, you feel more attractive and energetic, again good for your relationship.

Adequate sleep is important for health and a sense of well-being. Sleep deprivation can greatly reduce your enjoyment of life. It can make you snappy and ill tempered and reduce your ability to cope with day-to-day situations. It will reduce your ability to make good decision and to problem solve. Sometimes when life seems overwhelming, a good nights rest can improve your ability to cope.

The better we feel about our self, the more accepting we tend to be of our partner. Choosing a healthy lifestyle may do more than lengthen your life, it may also improve the quality of your relationship and make living longer more enjoyable.

A Healthy Relationship is FUNCTIONAL

Couple

A healthy relationship is functional and gives people a soft place to land. There is mutual respect and acceptance. The following is a list of attributes of a healthy, functional relationship:

F eeling like two whole people

U nwavering commitment to each other and the relationship

N o game playing, saying what you mean and meaning what you say

C ommunication is open, honest and assertive

T ime together and time apart are balanced

I ntimacy without the need for chemicals

O pinions are validated and respected

N urturing individual and couple friendships are encouraged

A ccepting and respectful of differences

L ooking for the best in each other

An unhealthy relationship is dysfunctional and can leave people feeling smothered or neglected or like they are walking on eggshells. The following is a list of attributes of an unhealthy, dysfunctional relationship:

D ependency or feeling incomplete without your partner

Y ou rely on your partner to make you feel happy, safe, beautiful, etc.

S elfishness, manipulation and game playing

F ull of blaming and shaming

U sing chemicals to help achieve a sense of intimacy

N egative focus; focused on what is wrong rather than what is great

C lingy and unable to let go

T oo much time together or too much time apart

I nability to allow the relationship to grow and change

O verly jealous or possessive

N ot able to express what is wanted or needed

A ggressive or passive aggressive approach to problem solving or avoidance thereof

L ack of friendships and healthy relationships with others

Take a few minutes to evaluate your relationship. Does it have more attributes of a functional or dysfunctional relationship. Ask your self, What one thing, that if I did it consistently, would improve the quality of my relationship? Make a commitment to do that one thing consistently for at least thirty days. By then it will have become a habit and you can choose the next one thing you can work on to improve your relationship.

Honing Relationship Skills

Skills To Make Good Relationships Better Watching someone, who has perfected a skill, perform is deeply satisfying—the flow, the ease, the beauty. Whether it is dance or singing or playing sports, getting really good at something is fulfilling. This is also true of relationship skills.

When we practice and hone our relationship skills to a level where they flow easily, our relationship can become a beautiful thing. But just like learning other skills, it takes some practice and time before things work smoothly. The first time we try out a new skill things may seem awkward and uncomfortable. For example learning to play the piano takes hours of practice before the hesitant note playing turns into flowing music. Be patient with yourself as you work on developing the following skills:

1. Self-responsibility – you and only you are responsible for your thoughts, words and actions. Learn to accept complete responsibility for yourself. 2. Ability to appreciate differences – learn to accept that your partner is different not wrong. 3. Listen to understand – practice being open minded and open hearted. 4. Hang on to self – learn to sooth your own hurts and disappointments to reduce over reactions. Practice taking a deep breath, counting to ten and finding other ways to calm yourself. 5. Empathy – learn to see things from your partner’s perspective, try imagining what it would feel like to be in their shoes. 6. Supporting – learn ways to support your partner that feel good to them—be there for your partner. 7. Maturity – choose to relate to each other as adults; avoid behaving as either a parent or a child when relating to your partner. 8. Negotiation – think win win, be willing to give up having to be right; choose happiness over winning. If you have to win that means you have to make your partner the loser. 9. Holding your tongue – don’t say the things you will wish you could take back later. Sometimes the old adage if you have nothing nice to say, keep quiet works wonders. 10. Fighting fair – learn to disagree without being disagreeable. Being respectful to each other at all times, good or bad is essential. 11. Stay in the present – practice dealing with what is rather than being stuck in resenting the past or worrying about the future.

Working to improve these relationship skills will help your relationship become a joy to watch as well as a joy to be in.

Building Connection

Connection

Connecting with your partner lays the foundation for any intimacy, including sexual intimacy. Consistently building the connection between the two of may be the single most important thing that you can do to improve the quality of your relationship.

Ways to build connection include:

Eye contact

It may sound simplistic, but think about it, how often in the past week have you had any sustained eye contact with your partner? Making eye contact with your partner lets him/her know that s/he has your undivided attention. Remember that staring can seem confrontational. Practice making eye contact with your partner in a loving way. Flirt a little, enjoy.

Time Together

Spend time together. Plan for it. Make it a priority in your life. There should be times when everything else; including work, children, parents, or friends; takes second place to your relationship. Take time to have fun together and enjoy one anothers company.

Talk

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Talk to each other. Everyday, find some way to talk, even if it has to be through email or texting. Reach out and make that connection. If you feel like you have nothing to say to each other, start small. Talk for a minute at a time and talk about something fun. Think of something interesting that has caught your attention and tell your partner about it. Tell him/her a joke that you have heard or describe something funny that happened to you. With a little bit of effort you can rekindle that desire to talk to each other all the time.

Listen, Listen, Listen

When your partner wants or especially when they need to talk to you, if at all possible, stop what you are doing, give him/her your attention and really listen to what they are saying. The gift of a listening ear will help your partner feel much more connected to you. And who knows it may even make him/her more apt to listen when you want to talk.

Sharing

What should you share with your partner? Everything. But remember there is no need to be hurtful when sharing with your partner. Share your thoughts, your feelings, your dreams, your fears. Share your time; share YOU.

Power of Thoughts

Power of Thoughts

It is also important to remember that within your relationship everything that you do or say will either help or harm your relationship.

You may think that you can hide your feelings from your partner. However, emotions have unique vibrations and whether we are conscious of it or not we can perceive emotions such as hostility, joy, anger or excitement. What we think and the emotions underlying our thoughts send out a vibration just as speaking does. When we have strong emotions attached to our thoughts our partner will get the message more clearly than if we say the same thing without emotion. We talk about being able to “cut the tension with a knife,” to explain what we feel when we walk into a room full of emotional tension.

If we think our partner is a jerk (or substitute any negative label), we will have two things working against us. First the self-fulfilling prophesy; if we think our partner is a jerk, we will treat them that way and they will act the way we expect them to act. Second the message we are sending to our partner—through our thoughts and feelings, whether we speak up or not, will reach our partner. It should not surprise us when our partner responds negatively. If we really want to build a lasting relationship we will have to replace negative thoughts with more loving and positive thoughts and feelings.

happycoupleIf we stop to consider that with every thought we think, we are either, sending our partner love or something less. If we are sending disdain or contempt to our partner, unless they are extremely mature and respond with unconditional love and acceptance, we will get back what we have tried to hide from them.

We poison our relationship when we begin entertaining negative thoughts about our partner, when we cultivate negative emotions of resentment, anger, or frustration. These negative emotions, no matter how hard we try to bury them, will impact our partner. They will get the message subconsciously—a kind of subliminal message.