We have all heard the jokes about married couples: weight gain, no sex, endless fighting.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Why not make one of your goals a commitment to improving your relationship?
Let’s take a look at some ways to make your marriage exciting, intimate, and fun.
Why am I writing about this?
Healthy relationships are one of the many keys to happiness. These include friendships and business associations, as well as intimate relationships. Humans are social creatures. We like to interact with others.
This post will concentrate on committed relationships.
Relationships Take Work
The most important thing I want to emphasize is that relationships don’t just get better on their own. Just like anything else, they take work to help them grow. My grandfather always used to tell me “nothing worth doing is ever easy”.
Remember how it was when you first met your partner? Everything was great. You couldn’t wait to see each other. Time spent together was blissful.
As time moves on, you start to realize that this other person is not exactly like you. They do things differently, have different opinions, and may even have habits that drive you crazy. No relationship will ever be perfect. The goal is to work together to function as a happy team. How do you accomplish this? What tools can you use?
Communication is the cornerstone of a good relationship and, if you don’t learn how to communicate effectively, you will likely have trouble co-existing. Understand that there are different communication styles. Your partner may talk in an entirely different way. Be willing to accept your partner’s method of expression, even if it differs from your own. Communication with your lover is an on-going process and should be a priority. Here are some communication guidelines.
Yelling, calling each other names, swearing, and putting each other down are all barriers to constructive communication. Remain calm and civilly discuss the concerning topics. If you have a problem with anger, take some time to cool off before blowing your top. Be patient, compassionate, and kind. Not only will your partner appreciate this, but you will feel better about yourself.
It is easy to keep talking in an attempt to get your point across. Always remember, your partner may see things in an entirely different way. Many arguments have no right or wrong solution and the best thing you can do to improve communication is to listen!
- Give focused attention to your partner.
- Try to receive their message with acceptance and understanding.
- Ask clarifying questions.
- Summarize what is being said to show your partner you are listening.
- Focus on the message, not how it is being communicated.
Think Before You Speak
Do not automatically say everything that comes to mind, especially if it may be hurtful to the other party. Remember, it is not necessary to express everything you are feeling. Ask your partner if they understand what you are communicating and be positive and encouraging. Negative energy is counter-productive.
Conflict is prevalent in all intimate relationships. The goal is not to eliminate conflict but to handle it effectively when it occurs. When our needs are not met, or we don’t receive what we expect, conflict can arise. We all enter into relationships with expectations. Our vision of the relationship might be much different from that of our partner.
Remember to confront your spouse in a loving way when conflict arises. Don’t keep your frustration hidden as this can lead to resentment. The steps to resolve a dispute can include the following.
Decide whether the issue is worth discussing. Although it isn’t a good idea to keep frustrations hidden, we do have to pick our battles. If the problem is small or doesn’t occur often, it may be best just to let it go.
Consider your contribution to the problem. This is important. Is it possible that your actions can change? Most conflicts involve both parties. If you can change, bring this up in the conversation.
Consider the timing of the confrontation. Try not to approach your partner when they are tired or in a bad mood. Be loving, honest, and stay focused.
Be willing to forgive. Forgiveness is the first step in rebuilding trust. This is not accomplished by pretending something didn’t happen or just forgetting about it. Forgiveness is a choice to set your partner free.
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Make Time for Each Other
Our lives have become extremely busy. Jobs, kids, activities, meals, and everyday chores can leave us exhausted by the end of the day and it is easy to forget to spend quality time with our partner. The best solution to this problem is to schedule weekly dates. Be proactive and decide to carve out a few hours per week for your relationship.
These “dates” don’t have to be extravagant. Even going out for coffee is better than nothing. Take some time to connect and enjoy each other’s company without distractions.
Spend a few minutes each week talking specifically about your relationship. Are there things you would like to change? What is going right? What needs attention? This will give each of you a chance to discuss how you feel, your needs and expectations in a neutral situation. Remember, always to be positive and respectful.
Some Common Stumbling Blocks
One of the most common causes of conflict in a relationship is sex. Unfortunately, men and women often feel differently about this topic. Men are usually more interested in the physical aspects of sex, whereas women are more drawn to the emotional connection. Sexual appetites can also differ substantially. Several factors can affect sexuality. Some of these include.
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Past Abuse
- Unreconciled relationships
It is important to discuss your feelings about sex with your partner. Tell them what you enjoy and what you would rather avoid. None of us can read minds, and your sex life might improve with communication. Remember the factors listed above. Your partner may be dealing with issues that you don’t know about or are unable to understand.
It is common for couples to argue about money. Again, expectations may be different. If a spender and a saver are in a relationship, frequent problems may arise. There are ways to help with this issue.
Create a budget. Everyone should do this. A budget helps give you a spending plan and helps avoid surprises. Take some time with this. Have monthly meetings regarding the budget and make adjustments when necessary. Try to stick to the budget.
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This is something I have personal experience with. My family is pictured above. Blended families are a common cause of conflict. If this becomes a significant problem, I suggest seeking professional counseling. There are too many factors involved to discuss this here. This topic is a blog post in itself. Keep in mind that the children your partner brought into the relationship are used to a different set of rules and have other expectations. It isn’t their fault. They were just raised differently.
Most of us have jobs that can cause stress at times. Learning how to deal with this can help improve your relationship at home. Here are some tips.
Try to refrain from discussing work at home.
Learn and practice techniques to reduce anxiety. Take a look at my anxiety post for ideas on anxiety reduction.
Relationships can be complicated. They take work and commitment from both parties. There are many tools available to help improve your relationship. My wife and I recently went to a weekend retreat for married couples. I strongly suggest considering attending one of these, especially if you are having issues. A quick Google search will give you plenty of options to suit your needs.
Remember, communication is key. Try to listen more and talk less, and you might learn something.
Take a trip together. A surprise getaway may be just what you both need to reconnect.
There are many ways to improve relationships and I have only scratched the surface in this post. Be creative, don’t be afraid to do something different, and, most importantly, have fun!