I know you may be thinking how can an old man with a crazy beard and mustache improve my relationship? Look he even has his arms crossed and does not look very open to communication. At least that is what I would be thinking.
This man is Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, Russian physiologist. He is best known for his experiments in classical conditioning. More to the point he was the guy who did the experiments with ringing a bell and giving the dog some food. First the dog would salivate only when the food was presented but sooner or later even the sound of the buzzer would cause the dog to salivate. It was a great example of using positive reinforcement to create a desired effect.
Here is the uncomfortable truth – it works just as good in humans. This is not a bad thing. We can use this information to improve our relationships. Do you mean we should train our spouse like the dog in the experiment? Well…actually…kind of. Let me explain. Let us say you like it when you partner calls to check in and see if your ok. Maybe that makes you feel loved and cared for. Next time your partner does that show them a great loving sign of appreciation. Do you really like it when your spouse brings you home little surprises from the grocery store to show they were thinking about you? When they present them to you reward them with a big hug or kiss. In other words, reward their behavior with positive reinforcement.
When I share this idea often people tell me that they feel they are tricking or training their partner. To that end I say this, when your partner makes you feel loved or appreciated for doing a certain thing do you not want to do that thing more? I know I do. Conditioning someone to do something you enjoy by making them feel good is a win/win situation. Both parties leave the situation feeling better than they did before and the likelihood such event will happen in the future only increases.
What if you would like your partner to do something they currently do not do? The standard operation procedure is to yell or nag or even just say in a forlorn tone how you wish they would do this or that. Using positive conditioning is not only a much better way, but will once again leave both parties feeling good with no hurt feelings or disagreements. Let us take a look at how this would work with our above examples.
You would really like your partner to call and check on you once and a while. It would make you feel like they really care about you and love you. They really do love and care but they just do not know you would like them to show you in such a manner. I am all for direct communication in a relationship, but sometimes a little grace and tact can go a long way. In this example when your spouse is out or running late you call them. When they assure you that they are ok follow it up with a statement similar to this, “I am so glad you are o.k. I just wanted to call because I wanted you to know I care and was worried.” Same with the grocery store example. If you would like them to bring you a little surprise to show they are thinking about you, try doing it yourself first. Give them the surprise and say, “I couldn’t help but get this for you. I was loving you so much and couldn’t think of a better way to show you than picking you up a little something.”
After a few times of doing this, your partner may very well pick up on that and do the same for you. Here is the great thing about this, they will also get to feel the pride of thinking of and doing the action themselves. Anther win/win situation. Whatever the situation in your relationship, always do your best to use positive reinforcement. That way both parties have a chance to feel good while improving the relationship.
Monday we began a special journey of putting our mind to work for us and bringing great transformations to our life by doing so. If you haven’t read Monday’s post I encourage you to click the link below and do so now.
I DARE YOU….
Each day this week we are going to discuss ways to help improve your process and make the journey easier and more enjoyable.
Today’s post focuses on special moments. Above is a picture of a litter of puppies. Seeing such a sight and being able to hold and play with them would put most people in a very joyous mood. When you are in these moods it is valuable to know how to make the most of these moments. Take a picture such as this to remember the moment by.
Another very valuable and powerful thing you can do is take a moment to repeat your affirmation and/or visualize the achievement of your goal while you are in this joyous state. Don’t worry you would only have to stop playing with the puppies for a few seconds. When we are in a happy state it is often a lot easier to picture positive solutions and to believe them as not only possible, but being created as we discussed in Monday’s post.
All the good moments you come across take a moment to pause, feel grateful and picture your goal as realized and say a quick affirmation. Telling yourself “Perfect health is now filling my body and expressing itself in me.” Sounds a lot better and is a lot easier to believe after rolling around with a group of puppies. Now, if you will excuse me as soon as my lady reads this I will be required to find a group of puppies so she can test out this theory. Be sure to come back tomorrow for even more ideas to enjoy the journey to achieving our goals.
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!