Couple Appreciation Month: Celebrate and Reinforce Your Relationship

Couple Appreciation Month: Celebrate and Reinforce Your RelationshipApril is designated National Couple Appreciation Month to encourage couples to do something special to re-enforce and celebrate their relationship – to let their partners know that they are respected and desired.

Given the grim statistics we hear on the state of relationships, I’m glad there is a whole month set aside to appreciate couples.

Statistics say most couples are unhappy in their relationships and more than 40% of marriages end in divorce.

As bleak as these statistics are, on the other hand, there are still approximately 50% of couples in relationships that are long lasting, thriving and happy.

What keeps these couples connected and happy?

Here are few tips you can use to improve and strengthen your relationship:

  • Communicate. Communication is one of the most important qualities in a relationship. Expressing your feelings is the key to effective communication no matter how uncomfortable or awkward it may feel. In strong resilient relationships, couples say “I love you” often and don’t sweep unpleasant issues under the rug.
  • Date Night. Remember how you looked forward to going on a date with your partner before the bills, school functions, meetings and other life forces took over and pushed your relationship to the back burner? You can regain that same excitement and joy in your relationship. Start going on dates again. Just as you schedule other functions, schedule a time devoted to each other. Make your relationship as a priority. Take out your calendar or smartphone, select a mutually agreeable date and time and write in your partner’s name. Commit to this date and don’t use excuses to stand up your partner. I’m sure you’re super busy but you must have at least one night out of seven to devote to your partner.
  • Never go to bed angry. In any relationship, especially a couple, unresolved anger breed resentment. Long-term resentment leads to apathy and disconnection. Don’t give anger space to grow. Let the other person know how you feel without directing blame or criticism.
  • Play together. Most couples spend less than 20 minutes a day engaged with each other and even less having fun together. Make time in your schedule to do a fun activity you both enjoy. Couples who share a common interest such as golf or bowling tend to have less conflict in their relationship. Not only do these couples spend time having fun, they also are strengthening their connection.
  • Trust. Can you count on your partner tomorrow do what he or she says? Successful relationships are built on trust. If you tell your partner you’ll be home by 6:30, don’t be persuaded to stop for a beer or get into a 20-minute conversation with co-workers when it’s time to leave work.
  • Fight fair. All couples have disagreements. If you’re not careful, disagreement can end in shouting matches, anger and hurt. A disagreement does not mean you don’t love each other or care. Before you start slinging insults, name calling or a disagreement ends badly, a 5-10 minute “time out” may help you sort out your thoughts so you can return and reach an amicable solution.
  • Show appreciation. Couples ought to show appreciation every day not just in April when we celebrate National Couple Appreciation Month. It’s the little things that mean a lot. It’s not that you don’t appreciate your partner; you just forget to verbalize your appreciation. Tell your partner how much you appreciate him or her. Put an “”I love you” note on a pillow, in a pocket, on the bathroom mirror, in his or her gym bag or briefcase/purse to make them smile.

Couple Appreciation month ends in a few days but you don’t wait for Couple Appreciation month to  let your partner know how much more enjoyable he or she makes your life, and then tell them.

To get professional help to improve or strengthen your relationship, please contact me to schedule a consultation.

Listening Well

Listening WellMost of us have experienced the frustration of having someone not listen to us or felt that same frustration when someone says you’re not listening to him or her.   But, before we get all bent out of shape and accuse someone of not listening, we must first ask ourselves the question, “how well do I listen”?

You must learn to be a good listener if you want others to listen to you.  That means putting down the smartphone and giving the other person your undivided attention.

A smartphone is no substitute for meaningful connection

Listening is so much more than hearing the words that are spoken. Listening involves paying full attention to the person speaking, taking note of the tone of voice, gestures, body language and making eye contact.

We are so accustomed to speaking in shorthand – e.g., OMG, LOL, ROFL, etc., that real communication easily gets lost.  A “smart” device is no substitute for meaningful, connected interaction between two or more people.  Smart devices and shortcut speech is just another way for us to avoid connecting with each other in a meaningful way.

Before you send your next text, email or instant message, ask yourself:

How well do I listen?

How does my commuication connect me to him/her?

And to further hone up on your listening skills,  keep these tips in mind to remind you to become a better listener.

1) Look the person speaking in the eye as they talk to you. This shows that you are paying attention. Don’t fidget, survey the surrounding scenery or check email.

2) Nod your head occasionally, say, “tell me more”, or ask questions when appropriate to indicate your interest.

3) Don’t interrupt the person speaking to complete her thoughts in your mind before she has the opportunity to finish speaking.

4) Notice the speaker’s body language, tone of voice and facial expressions. When we focused only on the words being said, we often miss important physical cues that would clarify and give us a better understanding of what is really being said.

5) Remember to ask questions that can’t be answered with a “yes” or “no”. You want to ask questions that promote more conversation and clarity.

For more listening and communication tips, you may want to order my book, Master the Genie Within: Uncover, Embrace, and Celebrate the Real You

5 Audacious Agreements that Empower

5 Audacious Agreements That EmpowerUnlike written or verbal contracts we make to provide a service or product, sometimes we make agreements with ourselves and other people that we are not even aware we made. And, when our expectations fall short of our desired outcome, we become angry, disillusioned, frustrated and confused.

For example, you may live with an unspoken agreement that conflict is to be avoided at all cost by not speaking up when there is a disagreement or difference of opinion. You may soon discover that avoiding conflict never gets anything resolved – just shoved under the proverbial rug.

Instead of going with the flow and operating from agreements that limit, define and get in the way of being your true self, here are 5 audacious agreements that empower so that the real you shines through:

Agree to ditch the labels – Mom, daughter, sister, wife or girlfriend is merely a label assigned to women by society. You are much more than a label. Labels don’t define who you really are anymore than tags in designer clothes tell you anything about the designer. Who you really are goes much deeper than any of the labels that you wear.

Agree to squash relationship drama – All relationships (marital, family, friends, co-workers and neighbors an even the relationship you have with yourself) will eventually hit a bump in the road. Are you clear about the kind of relationships you want to have in your life? Do you have relationships filled with confusion, temper tantrums, manipulation or deception? I hope not. But if you’ve ever experienced such behavior in a relationship, it may be time to assess how clear you are about who YOU are. Attracting drama into your life is usually an indication that you are giving others permission to set the tone of the relationship. You can change the dynamics of any relationship if you set clear boundaries about what you will accept and how you want to be treated.

Agree to say “no” like a 2 year old –One of the first words a toddler learns is the word “no”. That’s because she wants to be heard and express their assertiveness. Toddlers already have this down pat. She says “no” loud, clear and with conviction. Of course you don’t have to yell but certainly speak loud enough to be heard.

What happens to that conviction and assertiveness when we reach adulthood?

Unfortunately, once we leave toddlerhood, we seem to forget how to be assertive, express our wishes and think independently. Saying “no” is not meant to be antagonistic, difficult or mean spirited.

Saying “no” means that you set limits on what you are willing to do or give, what you’re capable of and how you desire to spend your time and energy.

Make an agreement to set realistic expectations – I agree with Dr. Phil when he says, “what upsets people is not what happens. What upsets people is if what happens violates their expectation of what was going to happen!”

Examine the expectations you have for yourself and others. Make sure they are realistic so as not to end up frustrated, angry or disappointed when things don’t turn out the way you hoped.

Agree to show more gratitude – When you consistently show gratitude for the things you already have, you open the window to receive more. An easy way to begin the practice of gratitude is to write down the things you are grateful for. You can use a journal to record your gratitude or write what you are grateful for each day and place it in a jar or other container. When you need a boost, go to your gratitude journal or jar for added inspiration.

And, to learn more about empowerment and being your true self, I invite you to get my book, Master the Genie Within: Uncover, Embrace and Celebrate the Real You.

Build Relationship Resiliency

Build relationship resiliency so that you have strong relationships with your partners, family, friends and colleagues. All of the relationships you have hinge on the one you develop with yourself.

When your inner relationship suffers, all other connections fall short of being as effective as they could be.

For example:

  • Feeling undeserving will prevent you from experiencing the joy and happiness you are worthy of.
  • Fearfulness keeps you stuck and connected to people and behaviors that create negativity and doubt into your life.
  • You may allow others to make decisions for you based on a faulty belief that your ideas and thoughts will be rejected.

A strong foundation of confidence and self-worth are the building blocks to relationship building with yourself and others.  And if, on occasion, you feel you don’t deserve goodness and happiness, the feeling is short lived when you are resilient and can bounce back to your true self.

Here are some ways you can spark a resilient relationship:

  • Choose to speak up and boldly ask for what you want.
  • Cultivate the belief that you deserve happiness, joy, prosperity and abundance in your life.
  • Let go of negative, energy-draining people and situations.
  • Detach your emotional energy from pessimism and the exhausting demands on your time and power.
  • Be open to attract more positive interactions and circumstances in your life.
  • Replace faulty beliefs about how you are perceived with confidence building affirmations.
  • Acknowledge and appreciate your accomplishments without waiting for validation, approval and acceptance from others.
  • Establish strong limits around what is acceptable, what you are willing to do and how much you can comfortably give.

And, if you are ready to build a resilient relationships in your life  you may want to start with your FREE download of 7 Daily Self Care Tips to Renew Your Mind, Body and Spirit.

 

5 Essential Boundary Making Tips

How are you allowing others to set limits on your time and resources? Are you still taking on more and more tasks when your plate is already running over?

To keep from rocking the boat, what things are you doing that you would rather not?  Taking your precious time to run an errand for someone just because they asked is not a way to show you have strong boundaries around YOUR time.

How jam packed is your schedule with the many things you “have to” do for your friends and family that don’t leave  time for YOU?  There are very few things you “have” to do.  Replace “I have to” with “I choose to”…You always have the choice to determine how you spend your time, energy and resources.

What stories do you tell yourself supporting the hamster wheel life (running and running but getting nowhere fast)? Is your story one of  scarcity, limits and procrastination?

If you are like most women, you can identify with at least some of the above statements.  Most of us are adept at giving and doing for others but fall short when it comes to ourselves.

Use the following tips to start doing the things you love, setting healthy boundaries and creating the balance to enjoy your life:

  • Relinquish the notion that you can do all, be all to everyone in your life.  You are not superwoman.  When you don’t set your own boundaries, you open the floodgates to more stress, anxiety and frustration by letting others set limits on your time and resources.  Instead of keeping the peace, you’re really teaching other people that they have the power to determine how, when and what you spend your time doing.
  • Revise the expectations you place on yourself – Look at where the expectations come from.  Are they cultural, family defined or self imposed?  For example, maybe you grew up believing that it’s better to give than receive and consequently, you give, give and give yet have difficulty receiving (i.e., compliments, gifts).  Don’t let someone else’s expectations become your reality.
  • Be spontaneous – You don’t have to know every detail before taking action.  When you spend precious time trying to figure out every possible outcome to the decisions you make, you are actually agonizing over things you have no control of. Sometimes, you just have to make a decision and just go with it.  If it turns out you could have made a better choice, revise or change your approach.
  • If you are trying to find ways to avoid some people in your life or you are constantly complaining about them, then it may be time to revisit the virtues of that relationship. Sometimes people are in your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.  Re-evaluate your relationships with these people and set some firm boundaries about how and when you want them to participate in your life.
  • Get off the back burner – Putting your needs and desires on the back burner while everyone else gets front and center, sends the message that your needs are not as important. Making yourself a priority lets other people know you value yourself, your time and your resources.

 

 

Gladys Anderson – Life Coach, Therapist, Author

About the Author:

Gladys Anderson is a certified life coach, licensed marriage and family therapist, author, consultant and workshop facilitator.

She helps individuals and couples to receive and revive the love, passion, respect and fun that’s been missing from their relationships