You may have heard the saying “you get more bees with honey than with vinegar” the same holds true in a relationship. Although personally I do not want any bees in my relationship. What does all this mean and how can we use it to create the secret to an amazing relationship? Let me start by asking you a question. If there is something you really enjoy that your partner does, how can you get them to do it more often? Here is another question. If there is something your partner does that you do not like, how can you get them to do it less often? The answer is surprisingly the same. Positive reinforcement. Now I will be the first to tell you that one of the single most important traits to a healthy relationship is great communication. However it must be the right kind of communication. Sometimes how you say things is just as important as what you say. If the communication in your relationship consists of a few gestures you give each other in the hallway as you walk by you may want to consider reading this post. Even if your relationship has great communication and you are just looking for a few ways to improve it this will definitely be worth your time.
Let me start by sharing a story with you. I have a female friend who was complaining that her boyfriend never responds to her text messages or when he does it is often hours after she has sent him a msg. “So how does that make you feel?” I asked her. She told me it made her feel unimportant and unloved. When I asked her what she wanted to feel and how that may happen she told me if he would only text her back sooner she would feel more important and cherished by this man. I inquired if she had ever explained that to him. Often our partners may be unaware of something that may be bothering us. This was not the case here. “Oh yes. He knows” she told me and went on to explain the last time he text her back she ripped into him and told him that he better not wait so long to text her back and how awful it made her feel. So what was she showing her boyfriend? She thought she had explained to him that texting her back quickly would make her happy. What she had really done is show him that texting her equaled pain. She made him feel guilty and hurt. So how could she have handled this better? First, she could’ve been more compassionate. Maybe he did want to text her back. Maybe he had a lot going on in his life that day? Maybe he was driving and didn’t want to risk being unsafe. She could’ve explained to him “I know your busy, but if you have the chance it really means a lot if you could text me back as soon as you are able” or if she wanted to avoid the issue altogether she could’ve just expressed how much it meant to her that he did text her back by saying “It is so great to hear from you. Every time I receive a message from you my heart skips a beat and it makes me feel so loved” If we focus on what we enjoy from our partners and let them know what makes us happy quite often we will get more of that. It is also not a stretch that our partners can connect the dots and realize the opposite of that thing will upset us. In this case the young man would realize that if receiving a text made her happy then not receiving one would surely make her unhappy. What we focus on in our relationships as well as in life we get more of. So be sure to keep your focus on the positive by doing some of the things we mentioned earlier in the week as well as what we talked about here today. Praise your spouse when they do something that makes us feel loved. Everyone likes praise and everyone likes to know they made the person they love feel good. Let them know and soon you will find they are working to do it more often. Until tomorrow my friends, live an amazing and passionate life!
Ok, before we think this will end up with a commercial with two people in a bathtub this is not that kind of relationship pill. Remember when you first began the relationship with the person you are with? Nothing they much did upset you and even if it did you just let it roll off your back or could communicate that in a loving fashion to them? They always seemed to take your breath away with their appearance and charm? Sooner or later life happens. Both you are your partner don’t necessarily lose the affection for each other so much as things become familiar and somewhat taken for granted. Pretty soon that adorable sound your spouse used to make when they sleep becomes something louder than a semi that is preventing you from getting the sleep you need. The way they used to wake up looking so cute with their hair going every which way now has you wondering if you are sleeping next to Don King. So how can we get back to how things used to be? Is there some pill we can take to suddenly take us back to how it felt when we were first in love? The answer is yes and no. Much to the dismay of my pharmaceutical friends there is no pill we can spend our hard-earned money on that will magically transform our relationship for the better. The good news? There is a simple word we can adopt into our daily lives that will have almost magical effect on the lives we share together. How I came by this magical secret is rather simple. I began to talk to couples who have been together for years by still look at each other with that gleam in their eyes. If you have ever had the divine experience of staring across the kitchen table and a plate of corn beef hash and see your lover looking back at you with a sparkle in their eye you will know the magic I am speaking of.
Ok..ok so what is this simple and relationship-altering habit we can use to take us back to loving like we did on the first few dates and how can we use it in our lives now? Great question. The ‘relationship pill’ I am speaking of is gratitude. Now before you quickly dismiss this notion let me promise you that a few quick habits of gratitude can transform your life and your relationship so quickly and so powerfully it will seem like magic. So how can we start getting back to falling in love again? Which, by the way is another secret I have learned. The secret to staying in love is falling in love all over again every single day sometimes several times a day. So how can you do that? Especially if it is 3am and your partner is snoring like a freight train? Let’s face it you’re not going to be sleeping anyway so you might as well put the time to good use. Here is the first tool I have discovered. Try this and watch the magic begin to happen. Get a piece of paper and a pen. doesn’t sound to magical and kind of old school? Stick with me. Start to think of all of the things you are grateful for in your partner. Try to keep them positive. ‘They don’t snore all the time’ is not quite what we are looking for. Does your partner have an amazing smile? Write it down. Do they always remember to kiss you goodnight? Write it down. Do they have an amazing voice? Write it down. Having this list does two very important things. First, it reminds us of things we may have forgotten we love about our partners. Second, to keep this list going, and I suggest you add to it as often as you can, keeps our minds focused on noticing things we are grateful for in the person we have decided to share our life with. It is my suggestion you take a look at your list once a day at a minimum for the first week. Seven days all you have to do is write down and keep track of things you enjoy about your partner, and read through them once a day. Takes all of two minutes at most. Picturing their beautiful smile or hearing their sexy voice in your head as you read through this list will make the results even more powerful. Try this for a week and you will begin to see dramatic changes. Stick with it for 21 days and it will become a habit and your life will change.
So care to take it to an even higher level? This next idea I cannot claim to be mine alone. It was conceived with a very special friend of mine. We were noticing that quite often in our own relationship as well as others in our life the negative experiences tend to stick in our brains far longer and far stronger than all the positive times. That happens to be the way the human brain works. Pain can be a very powerful emotion and cause us to forget all the pleasure someone may have brought us. So this person and I decided to try something together which is something I recommend you try with your partner or even by yourself. Buy a little notebook or journal. Begin by recording some of the best moments you and your partner have ever shared together. If there was a negative aspect that may have been involved, leave it out. What we are concerned with is celebrating all the fun times. Have you and your partner went out for pizza and ended up laughing at something only the two of you will ever understand? Write out that story. Have you ever shared an ice cream cone sitting by a waterfall? Write all about it. As you do you will be reliving it. Each one of us has favorite events that has happened in our relationships and sometimes we tend to let the negative ones overshadow them. This provides a good written record you can go back and think about when times are not so rosy or when you just need a reminder of how fun love can be. How has it worked in my own particular case? I find myself often saying “remember when we…” and we usually end up smiling or laughing. Trust me, adopt one or both of these and watch the magic happen. You will fall in love all over again.
Earl Nightingale once said the most important word to success was ‘Attitude’. I agree although I think it ranks right up there with gratitude, of which we will discuss tomorrow. Much like in the world of business success, in the world of relationships attitude can be everything. This is true in any kind of relationship, but since we are looking at romantic relationships let us focus on that example although the tactics here are basically the same. While having a discussion about this particular blog with a very close friend of mine I was explaining to her that what I post here I have learned by both studying the experts in a particular field as well as real world experience. In my life, as may be true in yours, experience can be another word for making mistakes. Many people, myself included, often fear making mistakes. This is often true in relationships. People are often so afraid of doing the wrong thing it prevents them from taking any action at all. In an earlier post we discussed that you are either growing or dying. There is no standing still in life or in relationships. Here is the beautiful thing, even if you make a mistake or hurt your partners feelings it can be a great source of growth. The secret is the actions you take leading to and following the upset. I used to fear making mistakes in my relationship. Nobody likes their feelings hurt or to hurt anyone else’s feelings. When there was a miscommunication in my relationships in the past I would often focus on what was lost. Have I lost trust in this person? Have they lost trust in me? Is there now a lack of closeness or intimacy? To thinking even worse things such as Is the relationship ever going to be the same? Will the relationship end because of this? It is easy to think this way especially when you are dealing with such intense emotion. this very reason highlights the need to think about how you handle relationship challenges before they occur. My attitude now is “Ok, things are not going well. What am I going to learn about my partner or our relationship through solving this?” Now there are two very important differences to notice here. One, I have changed the focus to what has been compromised in the present to what can be gained in the future. Now if the thing you come up with that you can learn is that your partner is a jerk, you may need to try to do a little refocusing. It is true that they may have done something that upset you, but in a healthy relationship partners rarely do anything to hurt each other on purpose. Instead focus on why may have done what they done. If you can still only come up with “They did it because they are a jerk” we may need to take a deep breath and think of another important factor. Always consider this very important point. In a relationship there is only one person you should try to change, that is the person in the mirror. We have no control over others and in a healthy relationship we should not even desire such things. Are there things about your partner you may not enjoy? I bet the answer to that question may be the same as it would be for them. Let us say you are upset because your partner never seems to listen to you and what you say. Instead of trying to come up with ways ‘to make your partner listen to you’ ask yourself “Is there a way I can more effectively communicate so that my partner is more likely to hear what I am trying to convey? Ask your partner, remembering to always make the effort about yourself. Something like this “Sometimes I feel what I am saying doesn’t always come across the right way to you. Is there a more effective way I could communicate with you?” will surely have a more productive result than “What can I do to finally get you to listen to me?” Remember working on changing your approach will quite often be the quickest fix to addressing an issue that may not thrill you about your partner. This will not only lead to a happier relationship, but to a happier you. The second thing I did was change my focus from the problem to the solution. In business there is an axiom that you should spend 20% of your time focusing on the problem and 80% of the time focusing on the solution. This is the same in relationships. You first need to focus on the problem to make sure you both have an understanding of each others point of view and what the problem truly is. I cannot tell you how many relationships have had arguments because both parties didn’t have a clue as to what the other was upset about. Not your relationship I’m sure, but it is good to make sure you understand what is bothering each other. Once you have that knowledge it is important to then immediately shift to the solution. Instead of dwelling on how mad it made you that your partner made you late for something, focus on what you can do to prevent such things in the future. Again remember only focus on what you can do. If you are expecting your partner to change it will only lead to further resentment. In the case of your partner making you late. Perhaps you could work on better conveying your desire to be on time. Or the fact that the event was scheduled and that is was important that you be there at a specific time. Maybe even ask them to be ready a little earlier than you need them so you can allow for a little extra time. So the attitude you bring to any situation with your partner can be the difference between growth and pain. Remember to focus 20% on the problem and 80% on the solution. Also remember the only person you should try to change in a relationship is yourself. Tomorrow we discuss another magical word in the world of relationships.
One of the greatest things we can do for our partners is show them that we are interested in them. How do we do that? It is actually easier than you think. Quite often I hear people say things like “They should know I am interested in them. They are the first people I tell about my day” or “I share all my problems and dreams with them”. While these are both great and very important things I would recommend doing in any relationship as it displays mutual respect and trust, it does not show that you are interested in them. So far I have told you what not to do, how about we move onto what we should do? In the above examples the people were still being ‘all about themselves’. One of the easiest ways to show your partner that you love and care about them and that you value them is to take an interest in what they are interested in. Now I can hear some imaginary moans and groans out there, but let me explain. Perhaps your wife is into crafting and you haven’t worked a pair of scissors since the 3rd grade. Maybe your husband likes to work on cars and you do not know the difference between a fuel pump and a spark plug, what to do then? The easiest ways is to ask questions. If your wife has created something fabulous a simple statement such as “That looks really beautiful. How did you manage to put that altogether?” will go a long way. This is not to say you have to stop watching football and start making flower arrangements, but knowing a little bit about your spouses hobbies and passions will not only help you appreciate the efforts they put into them, but also help you be able to carry on a conversation about what they are passionate about. Once you start speaking about one passion it can often lead to discussions about others.
So what if you have no interest at all in what your partner is doing? That is perfectly acceptable. Notice in the above example there was no mention about starting to craft together but you may find you do enjoy your partners hobby. This is not at all a requirement. In fact, having separate passions and activities you can engage in outside of relationship often keeps things fresh and offers a great chance to enjoy each other from a distance which is needed in even the best relationships. Still a healthy appreciation for your love’s talents will not only make them feel good, but bring you closer. Let’s face it when you can have a great conversation about a topic you enjoy you certainly enjoy being around the person a lot more. This is especially good for hobbies that take partners away from each other. “My husband is always gone fishing with his buddy” is something I hear from my female friends. When I ask them what he likes about fishing they often reply with a blank stare or a simple “I don’t know” When I push further and ask “Have you ever discussed fishing with him?” I often hear how much they dislike they whole event and it usually stems from the fact that it is the very event that takes their spouse away from them. If only they would discover what aspect about fishing their husbands like. Perhaps it is the time in nature? Perhaps it is being on the water? They could arrange a few more activities that are not necessarily involving a rod and real, but could be fun for both parties. Asking a few basic questions about fishing could often bring even the most reserved angler to great oratory. Another great thing about inquiring about things our partners enjoy is that it is often returned to us in kind. Now imagine to people discussing the very topics that bring them joy with each other. That is a recipe for an amazing love life!
One area of our lives that has a great deal in deciding whether or not our lives are amazing is our relationships with others. This can be friends, family, coworkers or even strangers that we meet on the street. The relationship that has the most power to control our emotional well-being is that of our romantic relationships. So this week we are going to take a look at some inspiring quotes about love, of which there are plenty. Why are there so many quotes about the subject? The answer is rather obvious. There is nothing to keep a smile on our face and a song in our heart than new-found love. Of course nothing can bring us down quicker or sour our whole outlook on life than a disagreement with the one we love. Maybe you find yourself saying “My relationship is great I guess there is no point in me reading any of these posts”. Let me tell you a secret. In life everything is in one of two states, it is either growing or dying. If your relationship is not constantly improving it is slowly slipping away whether you realize it or not. I have had the unfortunate pleasure of experiencing this first hand. A relationship I had been in for quite a while had slowly turned into more of a friendship and roommate situation. By the time I realized how bad it had become all my efforts and study of successful relationships were not enough to save it. I am thankful we are still friends, but even more so I am thankful for the important lessons it has taught me going forward and for my next relationship.
Like many of us when I saw a part of my life going down the drain I panicked. Out of that panic came something great, however. I threw myself into studying every method on how to save and create a loving relationship. Everything from Tony Robbins, to Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus programs. While it was too late to save the relationship I was in I managed to pull some terrific bits of information that can help any relationship no matter what state it is in. If your situation is on ‘life support’ you have no time to lose. Start following these tips right away. If your relationship is doing well, it is time to take it to another level. Experience the love fairy tales are made of. If your somewhere in between it is time to add some love and joy to your relationship with your romantic partner.
A special word to my male readers. This will not be all about flowers and chocolates, although those two items seldom go unappreciated. It is also not all about turning you into a man who spends all day reading romance novels and watching a chic flicks. These tips will actually make you more of a man by increasing the love and commitment you have from the lady in your life. So let us all look forward to the journey ahead. For the ‘secret to an amazing life’ must certainly include an amazing love life as well!