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This blog is about---You! Each and every post is about you. Use it to challenge your usual patterns, as a tool for self-discovery, to stimulate your thinking, to learn about yourself and to answer your questions about others.

Monday, May 9, 2011

You Can Catch More Flies with Honey Than with Vinegar

                                      How To Be Happier In Your Relationship

 Improving your relationship with your partner is something you can do, yourself, by practicing some new, good, relationship-building habits.  And, as a bonus, these also work on your other relationships. 
Paying attention is really important---not taking that other person for granted.  We all do it, but!---it isn't good!!!  After all, you don't want to be taken for granted, do you?  So, the best thing you can do about avoiding that unhappy experience is to not do it to others, yourself.
So, what do I mean by paying attention?  I mean greeting that person at day's end if you live in the same building, noticing what state of mind they seem to be in, really listening if they tell you about a difficulty they encountered that day and being the world's best cheerleader if they have something good to share.  Be sure to celebrate when you have a good thing that happens in your life together or even just make a big deal about holidays together. ~ Have happy rituals.~
Try to move away from the blaming tendency.  This I see quite often in my office in couples who come in for marriage counseling/couple's counseling.  I call it the Blame Frame.  It is not productive.  What is far better is to take responsibility for yourself.  "Accept responsibility for your choices."  Fred Luskin.  If you have been wounded in your childhood and in other past relationships, it is up to you to not let that infringe on your current relationship(s).  It is really a lot to ask of your partner that they avoid doing or saying some things because they may trigger a bad memory of yours.
~Taking responsibility means doing something to heal your own wounds.  I know it sounds like a lot to ask---all this responsibility-taking.  But, if we are honest, we must recognize that all relationships require effort and many are difficult.  So, allowing unfinished business to get  in the mix is an unnecessary added burden.  Problems are normal and will be there to deal with even without the interference of your personal history.  Pertinent post:

Also, make it a habit to appreciate your partner rather than to focus on their character flaws (which we all have).  Feel whatever affection you truly have for this person and find things to admire.  Try not to criticize the other person and especially not to demean nor devalue them.  These things are so damaging to the relationship whereas the first actions develop and strengthen the relationship.
It just makes sense to emphasize the positive and try to have it overbalance the negative.  Of course, it may seem obvious to you, as you are reading this.  And yet, how many of us really try consistently to do this? 
Happy couples do these things:
`Pay attention to their partner when it is asked for
`Try to stay calm during a disagreement
`In a fight, talk about their own needs /wishes and not their perceived deficiencies of their partner
`Assess themselves instead and try to change themselves for the better
`Make the relationship and emotional intimacy with their loved one a priority
`Maintain their positive view of their partner

"At any point in time, a relationship is either improving or declining.  Relationships are not static."    Tom Clark, LCSW

(Some of the above concepts were a part of a presentation by C. Carter and F. Luskin at the workshop, The Science of a Great Relationship)

Did you try any of these suggestions?  Would love to hear your comments.

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