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Building Connection

Resilient Relationships

The key to developing resilient relationships begins with the relationship that you have with your self. Other than the relationship you have with God or your higher power, your most important relationship is the one you have with yourself. All your relationships will reflect and be influenced by this relationship. If you are struggling to love and accept yourself, it will be difficult for you to trust or feel the love offered by your partner.

Resilience
Resilience

It is the personal insecurities that often erode relationships. A lack of self-love or confidence may manifest as indecision in your relationship. You may fear that your ideas or suggestions may be rejected. It may also keep you in a relationship that is toxic or abusive. You may fear being alone, or feel that you do not deserve better.

A healthy foundation of respect and love for your self will make your relationship more resilient. You will also be able to bounce back quicker, when self-doubt starts to creep in.

Research has shown that some people seem to be naturally resilient. It has also shown that resilient behaviors can be learned. Resilient behaviors include being optimistic, practicing healthy self-care, cultivating spirituality or a sense of purpose, using positive self-talk, reaching out to others, goal setting and creative problem solving. Most importantly, simply practicing these skills will help you be more resilient.

Here are some ideas to help you create a resilient relationship:

  1. Give yourself permission to ask for what you need and want.
  2. Be open to what your partner needs and wants.
  3. Choose to believe that you deserve to be treated respectfully.
  4. Choose to consistently treat your partner with respect and caring.
  5. Choose to believe that you deserve happiness, abundance and joy in your life.
  6. Forgive others and yourself.
  7. Let go of resentment and negative self-talk.
  8. Focus on what is great and wonderful in your relationship and your life.
  9. Bring awareness to your negative beliefs about yourself.
  10. Choose to replace those negative beliefs with positive affirmations.
  11. Feel and express gratitude.
  12. Set healthy boundaries.
  13. Give yourself permission to say ‘no’ to things that are detrimental.
  14. Stand tall and act confident, until you feel it.

Resilient relationships are not something that you either have or do not have. Resilient relationships are the result of people taking care of themselves and each other. Begin by taking responsibility for improving your relationship with your self; and move toward creating a more resilient relationship.

Technology and Relationships: To Connect Or Disconnect

Technology is neither helpful nor hurtful for relationships; it is how we choose to use technology that determines whether we harm or help our relationships. We need to examine whether we are controlling our use of technology or we are allowing technology to control us. If we allow technology to monopolize our time and attention, our relationships will suffer from disconnection. Technology can be a tool that challenges relationship in the following ways:

Technology
Technology

Miscommunications happen all the time in relationships, but miscommunication is exponentially increased via text message. It is too easy to misinterpret or assume the tone of the message.

It is far easier to be cruel to a loved one via text or email. Angry, hurtful words can be sent off in seconds, without the opportunity to see the effect those words have on others.

Not being present when we are with our loved ones is a dangerous use of technology. When we give more of our attention to our computer, phone, television or electronic games, than we give to the people around us; we are seriously eroding our relationships.

If we choose to control our use of technology it can help us connect with our loved ones. Technology can be an aid to strengthening relationships in the following ways:

Facetime, Skype, ooVoo and others can help us feel close, even when we may be half a world away.

Electronic calendars and reminders on phones can help us remember important events, dates and times. We can help ensure that our loved ones feel remembered and cared about, by setting reminders ahead of time to send cards or purchase gifts.

Receiving and sending a kind, thoughtful, funny or loving text, email or phone call throughout the day can help us feel connected when we are busy and apart.

Technology makes it easy to display photos of loved one; photos of fun and treasured moments, as screen saver or phone background, can bring a smile to our face and help us feel close.

As wonderful as technology is for helping us connect; virtual intimacy can never replace actual intimacy. We need the eye contact, the touches, hugs, smiles and time together. Take a few moments to evaluate whether your choices around the use of technology are helping or harming your relationship. Choosing to use technology wisely can help build and strengthen our relationships. Allowing technology to consume and distract us from our time together has the opposite effect.

Increasing Passion

In order to have a passionate relationship in the bedroom, it is important to establish adult – adult relating patterns. When people start wagging their fingers at their partners, telling their partners how to think, feel or behave they have moved into a parent – child style of relating. The parent – child style of relating is not sexy and tends to dampen rather than excite libido.

True passion involves vulnerability – completely surrendering to each other and to the moment. It is difficult for a couple to feel open and vulnerable when they have been bickering. If a husband or wife feels like they have to pick up after and take care of their partner like one of the children, how likely are they to be breathlessly waiting to roll into bed with their partner? The same question applies, if a partner feels that they are being treated like a child?

Increasing passion can be a challenge in committed relationships. Carefully and honestly examine your behavior in your relationship. Are there times when you behave more like a parent or a child than a mature adult?

  • Do you lecture or scold your partner?
  • Do you whine and complain to or about your partner?
  • Do you demand that you get your way, now?
  • Do you take responsibility for things that should be your partner’s responsibility?
  • Do you have temper tantrums or volatile reactions to criticism?

The more couples approach their relationships as two mature adults, the more they will be willing and able to be vulnerable with each other. Emotional maturity allows partners to approach the bedroom in ways that enhance, rather than erode their love life. Emotionally mature couples are more likely to feel aroused by their partner and have a satisfying love life.

When partners are emotionally mature they are more able to be fully present during lovemaking. They are more open to being creative, adventurous and respectfully enjoying one another. They are willing to share what they enjoy and happy to learn about their partner’s preferences, wants and desires.

Mature partners can easily accept and respect when their partner chooses to say “no” or is uninterested in sex. They do not assume that this means there is something wrong with them or the relationship or that their partner does not love them. To them, sex is something to be enjoyed by choice not out of duty or obligation. They recognize that obligatory sex is one sure way to dampen libido.

Emotionally mature couples are secure in themselves. They are able to be vulnerable and to easily express and receive love. They are considerate and empathetic and are willing to make sacrifices for each other.

Increased awareness of those times that you may slip into the parent – child, rather than adult – adult relating style, will increase your ability to make a different choice. As you increase the maturity of your interactions with each other, you may also notice increased heat in the bedroom.

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.

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.

20 Ways To Make Your Relationship Last

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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.

Want To Be A Hit On Valentines Day?

Has Valentine's Day in the past been less than spectacular? Are you getting the cold shoulder, rather than the warm reception that you would like? Do you wonder what you could do to increase the chances that Valentine's Day will be a romantic celebration of your love, rather than a reminder of the distance between you? Consistency is the key.

If you want those special days to be wonderful then you need to put your relationship where it belongs, at the top of the priority list. If you ignore your relationship except for special occasions, you will most likely find those special efforts falling flat. It is the little things done on a consistent basis that bond two people together. When partners are feeling connected and close, the special days become times to treasure, rather than times to endure or avoid.

Remember, it is the little things done consistently that will help to add the sizzle to the day. Consistency can make the difference between the sizzle and the cold shoulder.

Start now preparing for next years Valentine's Day. The following are some suggestions that may help to make next years Valentine's the best one ever:

  • Hugs every day, morning and night.
  • Listen, listen, listen. Avoid defensiveness and blame.
  • Be respectful and kind.
  • Help around the house.
  • Do something everyday to demonstrate your love for your partner.
  • Continue courting.
  • Go on a date once a week.
  • Say “I love you”often.
  • Show your partner that you love them more often.
  • Learn what you can do to make your partner smile, laugh and feel loved. Then do it.
  • Make your relationship a top priority.
  • Smile.
  • Make spending time with your partner a priority.
  • Create happy memories to treasure.
  • Reminisce together about your fun times.

Avoid thinking the grass may be greener on the other side of the fence and start watering your own grass.

Improve Your Self-Disclosure Skills

Self-disclosure is a necessary part of getting close to another person. Unless you are willing to share who you are with your partner, you will never be truly intimate with them. In order to be able to open yourself completely to your partner, you need to be able to trust that they will honor and respect you and your secrets. Fear of rejection or punishment can stop partners from sharing and may even create an environment that encourages lying. It is interesting to note that we may inadvertently teach our partner to lie to us by punishing them when they are honest with us. The benefits of self-disclosure are many. Couples who share their thoughts, feelings, experiences, memories, as well as hopes and dreams tend to stay together longer. People who self-disclose, or are open and sharing in appropriate ways, are healthier and less susceptible to illness. Self-disclosure also helps us to learn about ourselves (did I just say that out loud) and to see ourselves more clearly. When your partner graciously accepts what you share you will feel more inclined to share. Self-disclosure helps us gain self-acceptance and makes for closer relationships.

Distancing occurs when couples stop sharing. If a long enough period of time passes without self-disclosure, couples will begin to feel like roommate or strangers.

Self-disclosure may not always be a positive. Ask yourself before sharing something with your partner: What is my motivation for sharing this information? Some positive motives for self-disclosure are wanting to share, express yourself or help your partner understand you. Some negative motives for self-disclosure include wanting to produce guilt or shame, trying to hurt or control your partner.

Self-disclosure is reciprocal. If one of you is sharing and the other is not, an imbalance is created in the relationship. Successful relationship have a give and take; a balance of sharing and receiving. The message your partner is getting, if you are withholding the personal part of yourself, is that you do not trust him/her.

It is important to note that self-disclosure should be a voluntary process. Do not allow your partner to push you into disclosing something that you do not want to disclose. Be assertive and change topics.

To improve your self-disclosure skills try doing the following: 1. Own your opinions. Speak for yourself. Offer your own thoughts, feelings and opinions. 2. Use sense statements. Sense statements describe what we see, hear, touch, taste and smell. 3. Use interpretive statements. Describe what you are thinking, believing and assuming. 4. Use feeling statements. Describe what you are feeling. 5. Use invention statements. Describe your wants, wishes and desires. 6. Use action statements. Describe what you do and how you behave.

Just as any other skill, your ability to self-disclose will improve by doing. Practice sharing with your partner and the sharing will become easier.

Make Time To Be A Couple

If you are in a relationship, it is important to make time together a priority. There should be times where you shut off the cell phones, television and other distractions and focus on each other. Make couple time a priority.

In a well-rounded relationship couple time comes in many different forms:

Working together

Sharing household chores can make them seem less burdensome. Doing the dishes together, shopping together, or cleaning a room, if done with a cheerful attitude can be fun. There can even be time for patting your honey on the backside or giving him a hug and letting him know that there is nothing sexier that a man helping.

Playing together

Find something or several somethings that are fun for both of you and make a habit of regularly taking time to have fun together.

Planning together

Whether it is planning for the day, week or your future, doing it together can help strengthen your relationship. Knowing what you want, need and expect from each other can help prevent miscommunication and frustration.

Socializing together

It is possible to socialize together. Remember that little things like touching hands, touching feet under the table, or making eye contact can help you feel connected even in a crowd.

Learning Together

Learning something new together can be another way to connect. Whether it is adventurous like learning to scuba dive, or simply intellectually stimulating, it can give you an opportunity to grow together.

Worshiping Together

If you are of the same faith, this can be attending church together. It can also be as simple as spending time quietly enjoying nature. This can recharge your batteries and help you see things in perspective.

Lovemaking

The ultimate togetherness is lovemaking. There may be times when life is so hectic and busy that you need to schedule time for lovemaking.

Strengthen your relationship by making time for each other.

Open Your Eyes

The wisdom of Benjamin Franklin says, "Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, and half shut afterwards." When this idea is applied to noticing faults it works well. However too many people exist in their marriage in a semi trance state, not really aware of their partner’s thoughts and feeling. Sometimes they are not even aware of their own thoughts and feelings. My advice is to open your eyes in your relationship. I agree with Benjamin Franklin that after marriage you need to worry less about, “Are we compatible” and more about, “How can we make this work.” But my focus here is the importance of eye contact.

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Think back to the last couple of interactions that you had with your partner. Were your eyes on your partner's eyes or were they on the newspaper, the television, the mirror, the road or whatever distraction it may be. In the memory do you see their face, their expression, their response? Or is memory more about the message you were giving them.

Focused positive attention is amazingly powerful in any relationship. Eye contact is what helps your partner feel heard, appreciated and cared about. Eye contact encourages your partner to talk and share their thoughts feelings and opinions. Loving eye contact can be one of the most intimate experiences you will share.

If your memories of talking with your partner do not include looking into their eyes, watching their facial expression, and an awareness of their feelings and opinions, then it is time to open your eyes in your relationship.

Keeping Secrets: 6 Rules

secrets

We create intimacy by sharing who we are, what we think and believe, and how we feel with each other. Mutual sharing is a most satisfying experience. A question to consider is, does total honesty always benefit your relationship? Open and honest communication is vital to the success of relationships; brutal honesty on the other hand is not. When is it okay to not tell the whole truth? There are times when an omission or partial truth simply avoids upsetting the other person unnecessarily. For example the response to the classic question, “Does this dress make me look fat?” perhaps should not be, “Yes, it sure does.” A more tactful, but possibly less truthful answer might be, “The other dress is more flattering.”

Scott Peck suggested 6 rules for withholding or keeping a secret:

1. Never tell a lie.

2. Remember that withholding the truth is always potentially a lie and a significant moral decision is required. (Not something to be done lightly)

3. Never withhold the truth for personal gain (to gain power, to be accepted or liked, or to protect your values from challenge)

4. Always base the decision entirely upon the needs of the person you are withholding the truth from.

5. Genuine love for the other person is required to responsibly make this decision.

6. Ask yourself if sharing this information will benefit or hurt the other person. (Remember that we are more likely to underestimate their capacity to handle the truth)

Dig The Well Before You Are Thirsty

A wise Chinese Proverb says, "Dig the well before you are thirsty." If you were to apply this concept to your relationship what might that mean? Perhaps the time to strengthen your relationship is when things are going good. Now is the time to develop positive relationship habits. Habits such as making time for one another; interacting in positive ways; and really listening to understand each other. Developing solid relationship habits when things are going well may carry you through times when you have struggles.

happycouple

"Digging the well" before you are thirsty means that you won't die of thirst while you are digging. While it is true that it is never too late to salvage your relationship, if you want to salvage it, sometimes the "want to salvage" is long gone. (Remember that there are some relationships not worth salvaging, for example abusive relationships).

Unfortunately some relationships end up dying because couples postpone digging the well until they are dying of thirst. Their patience with the digging process is very limited due to the sad state of their relationship. They need and want their thirst eased now and are not prepared to wait in order to see results.

Here are some tools that can help you "dig the well" or strengthen your relationship: Spend time together Laugh together Say thank you to each other Do a kind deed for someone else together Accept rather than blame each other Do at least one nice thing each day for each other

When you consistently put positive energy into your relationship, your well will be deep and your relationship will be a satisfying place to be.

Build Traditions

The idea of developing traditions may sound stuffy and old fashioned, but they can be fun as well. It is up to you to chose traditions that you can enjoy together as a couple. Traditions are all about creating lasting and happy memories, so have fun with creating your own traditions. Choose from our list of ideas or create your own:

  • Always say good-bye with a kiss.
  • Take turns planning a date once a week.
  • Take a bi-yearly holiday, just the two of you.
  • Always greet each other with a hug.
  • Create a word or sign that says, “I love you.”—make it something that is your secret.
  • Have mealtime at the table. Talk and share.
  • Do gardening or yard work together.
  • Once a month have a clean the house morning, followed by a laze in bed and talk afternoon.
  • Have a special rendezvous for lunch.
  • Cook special meals together.

What you choose to do is up to you. What you choose to do is not nearly as important as the opportunity you create for strengthening your bonds of love. So create happy traditions, things that you do over and over again that say I love you and I love spending time with you.