Five Ways to Enhance Your Relationship

Relationships can seem so easy at the beginning. Love comes naturally. But over time, other parts of life start to compete for your attention. Pretty soon, the relationship isn’t getting much focus. You and your partner both start to wonder where the good times went.

Considering the joy that can come from a healthy relationship and the potential challenges a failed relationship can present, you want to do your best to stay happy together. This is even truer if there are children involved.

Try these strategies to quickly put your relationship back on track:

  1. Make time for each other. Remember when you first fell in love? Your relationship was a huge priority. You made time for the other person. There wasn’t much you were going to let stand in your way. After a while, time together became the thing in your life that gets attention after everything else has been taken care of.
    • Setting aside time for a date night once a week or even every other week can be enormously helpful. If you have kids, maybe you can swap babysitting nights with another couple.
  2. Volunteer together. If contributing to others’ lives is important to both of you, this is a wonderful way to enhance your relationship. Sharing an experience that’s positive and meaningful can strengthen the bond you share. Time spent like this also allows each of you to view the other in a positive light.
  3. Play together. Find something you both enjoy and do it together. Intimacy is gained during those lighter and happier times, not just when life feels heavy and dramatic.
  4. Improve how you deal with conflict. When there’s conflict, are you good at working through this together? A good way to measure this is to consider whether the conflict is likely to happen again. There’s no reason to keep having the same conflict over and over again. If that happens, you didn’t really resolve anything.
    • Instead, focus on finding solutions. The fact that there is a conflict doesn’t suggest that someone is wrong. It simply means that there is a misunderstanding or a disagreement about something. Choose learning and happiness over the need to be right.
  5. Take responsibility for yourself. This may be the most important thing you can do for your relationship. Instead of expecting your partner to make you happy, find ways to take care of you own needs.
  • The other side of this is not spending all your energy trying to make your partner feel happy and secure. You can only contribute to their happiness, not create it.

After you’ve been together a while, your relationship will naturally start to take a backseat to other things. However, for your health as a couple, it’s important to find enjoyable and meaningful ways to spend your time together.

No relationship will sustain itself for long without tending. Our partnerships require care and attention, just like anything else worth having. And as is often true, the more you put in, the more you get out.

Try some of the tips above to devote some much-needed energy to your relationship. You’ll be amazed at how much joy a little attention to your partner will bring.

Renew Fading Friendships

A function of maturing and making your way through life is that you’ll occasionally leave behind someone you really care about. It might be your best friend from high school, your old neighborhood buddy, a college dorm roommate, or even a past co-worker you connected with.

Over time, you may find yourself yearning for another conversation, a lunch out or evening spent with a long-lost friend. But after so much time has passed, how can you renew fading friendships before they disappear completely?

Consider these suggestions to re-connect with a friend from your past:

  1. Give your friend a call. You might freeze up at the thought of calling because, after all, it has been so long. However, the only way of renewing your friendship is to make contact. Just do it.
    • Tell her you’ve missed her. Mention you’ve been thinking about the fun you had shopping and playing tennis together and that you want to maintain your friendship. Listen to how she feels about the relationship. Inquire about what’s going on in her life.
  2. Persevere. If you don’t have your friend’s telephone number, call his parents or drive by the last residence where he lived. Knock on the door and inquire of the residents if they know what happened to him. Contact a mutual friend and ask where your old friend is living now or how you might get in contact.
  3. Set up a rotating commitment. Once you contact your friend and discover he wants to continue your friendship, suggest the two of you get together on an ongoing basis to keep your relationship going.
    • For example, meet for dinner every other Wednesday evening. Get together one Saturday a month for lunch. A standing appointment keeps you both looking forward to spending time with one another.
  4. Be willing to make the extra effort. If your friend lives 90 minutes away by car, when you call, say you’d love to drive over and spend some time with him. Show you’re willing to do what’s necessary to see your friend occasionally. Hopefully, your friend will eventually be willing to drive over to see you as well.
  5. Write a letter and send it by snail mail. A hand-written letter shows you put some time and thought into what you wanted to say. Plus, your friend will have a tangible representation of your attempt to contact him, which means he’ll notice your efforts to get in touch.
    • This method is particularly helpful when you don’t have the person’s telephone or cell numbers.
    • Send a letter every other month for 6 months or so and include all your contact information, such as your cell phone number, home phone number, e-mail address, and home address. Doing so will make it easier for your friend to contact you using whatever method he prefers.
  6. Once you’ve established initial contact, use technology to stay connected. Find out from your friend if he uses e-mail and texting. If so, send him an e-mail every few days. If your friend prefers a quick text, use texting to stay in touch.
  7. Consider Facebook. After you’ve made your initial contact, find out if your friend is on Facebook. If so, “friend” him and use Facebook to keep in touch.

It’s a great feeling to discover an old friend wants to renew your relationship. Go ahead and be the one who takes the first steps to rekindle an old friendship. Use these methods to re-connect with that wonderful friend from your past.

Could You Use an Attitude Makeover?

In this day of personal makeovers, we’ve seen people lose 100 pounds, get a nose job, and finally go after their dream career. But for many, an alteration of attitudes alone can bring transformative life experiences.

Changing how you approach daily living might help you achieve your ultimate goals. Even if you don’t think you’re in need of a total attitude makeover, check out some of the ideas below to discover positive approaches you can take to get the most out of your life.

Are you “Stuck” in a Dominant Attitude?

If you find yourself feeling the same way about a variety of situations in life, maybe you’re hanging on to the same attitude. If you have a particular, less-than-positive approach that dominates your life, it may be time for a makeover.

Reflect on Your Feelings

Take time to think about how you feel most of the time. How would you describe your dominant attitude? Is it contentment, sluggishness, happiness, annoyance, satisfaction, resentment, peace, envy, joy, worry, inquisitiveness, or even anger?

Examine Your Attitude Type

As you can see, some attitudes are positive, optimistic and motivating. If you’re blessed with a naturally positive dominant attitude, you’re in solid command of your life. You’re most likely already living the good life you deserve.

But if you notice that a less positive attitude is pervasive, make the decision now to alter how you think and feel.

Consider the following regarding these more challenging attitudes, and the ways in which they can detract from the quality of your life:

  • Sluggishness. If you have a sluggish attitude toward life, you’ll find yourself simply plodding along, doing barely what is required to get by. You might take little interest in anything and prop your feet in front of the television at every spare moment. Chances are, you set few, if any, goals.
  • Annoyance. If you find yourself consistently annoyed, you probably rarely feel satisfied with life. Something is usually amiss. When you’re annoyed, you may often sit in judgment of others, whom you see as unable to “do things right.”
  • Resentment. Being resentful involves feeling rankled, troubled and worked up most of the time. When resentment is your dominant attitude, you may feel challenged to manifest positive events in your life or enjoy the ones that do occur.
  • Envy. Feeling envious of others can include wanting what someone else has or feeling spiteful toward or competitive with others.
  • Worry. A prevailing attitude of worry means you often experience nagging feelings that things are not quite okay. In advance of an event, you construct many possible scenarios, with few of them leading to a satisfying finish.
  • Anger. An angry attitude is exhausting if you have to deal with it on a day-to-day basis, whether it’s your own attitude or someone else’s. When this attitude is dominant, usually there is a general sense of unhappiness.

Make Over Your Attitude

Once you determine you might benefit from an attitude makeover, you can get started right away. As an adult, you most likely already have all the skills you need to change your challenging state of mind.

Try these strategies to experience the joys of a more positive dominant attitude:

  1. Make a decision. Decide to rid yourself of the attitude that brings you down.
  2. Use reminders. Post reminders on your mirror and refrigerator and in your car to “catch” and let go of your old attitude.
  3. Replace the old. Select a more uplifting attitude as your dominant one. For example, happiness, joy, peace, satisfaction, or contentment as your chief attitude will strengthen your passion for life. When you notice your old attitude creeping in, replace it immediately with a more optimistic, motivating one. Refuse to surrender your power to that old state of mind.
  4. Affirm your new attitude. Apply your new frame of mind. Every day, say to yourself, “No matter what, I am [your new attitude].” Remind yourself that you’re stronger than your old, ineffective attitude.

If you identified any of the above challenging attitudes as your primary emotional state, you might get a lot of pleasure from an attitude makeover. By following these suggestions, you can begin to enjoy the good life you’ve always wanted.

Overcoming Post-Holiday Blues

The holidays are often a whirlwind of activity and emotion involving a busy schedule of shopping, school programs and get-togethers with friends and family. If you experience an emotional disappointment when the holidays pass, there are many things you can do to lift your mood and make it through the emotional let-down after the holidays.

These strategies will boost your spirits and get your New Year off to a great start:

  1. Take advantage of the extra time you now have for yourself. Since the holiday hullabaloo is over, you have some time to reflect. What do you like about your life? What would you like to change?
  2. Think about small goals you’d like to accomplish. Do you want to finally get that hall closet cleaned out? Maybe you can now complete that special project your boss has wanted you to do.
    • It’s a good time to make a list of all those little tasks you want to get done. Having the list will help you concentrate on your goals. Plus, it’s wonderful to draw a line through an achieved goal.
  3. Focus on you for a change. Now is the time to hone in on personal desires and goals. Perhaps you want to exercise more or spend more quality time with your children. Ponder how you might go about making the changes you seek. Think of taking little steps toward your big goals.
  4. Pursue an interest. We’ve all got those interests we hope to “get to” someday. Since you’ve got some down time now, why not go for it? Delve in to that subject you’ve been curious about or start the photography class you’ve longed to take.
    • If you’re not sure what you’re interested in, do some research. Visit your local library, browse some magazines or look in the newspaper. You’ll most likely find a couple of topics or activities you’d like to learn more about.
  5. Have a dinner party. You’ll have plenty of time to plan and prepare for this event with people you really care about. You’ll enjoy yourself and your mood will lift.
  6. Renew and refresh your surroundings. Do you feel like re-arranging the furniture in a room or two? Maybe you want to paint the walls or make new curtains. Re-decorating your surroundings is a wonderful way to go in to a new year and banish the holiday blues at the same time.
    • Re-focusing on your surroundings and thinking about any changes you want to make will help you de-focus from the doldrums.
  7. Re-connect with an old friend. There’s something so wonderful about making that call you’ve wanted to make. Hearing your friend’s voice again will bring great joy to your heart. It might be a friend from the old neighborhood, a former college roommate or a past co-worker you were once great friends with.

If you’re feeling down now that the holidays are behind you, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll begin to rise above those post-holiday blues when you try some of these strategies.

Taking some quality time for yourself during this period can lighten your mood immensely and ignite your excitement about the year ahead.

Light Up Your Love Life This Holiday Season

The holiday season offers lots of opportunities to spark your romance. Couples can draw closer together and singles can search for new connections. Even if the weather outside is cold and snowy, these tips will warm your heart.

Romantic Tips for Couples

  1. Spend time together. Take a break from the holiday bustle to give each other a little special attention. Spend some evenings at home before the fire or hold hands while you take a long walk through the freshly fallen snow.
  2. Create special rituals. Invent your own holiday traditions. Make a tree ornament each year and watch your collection grow over time. Watch an annual marathon of holiday movies and TV specials served up with eggnog and toasted nuts.
  3. Be nice to your in-laws. Earn some brownie points by being kinder to your partner’s family. Encourage your kids to make crafts that they can give to their grandparents or set up a special outing for them if they live nearby.
  4. Exchange meaningful gifts. For example, if you honeymooned in Paris, give each other tickets for a return trip with reservations at the same hotel. For the years you can’t get away, pick up a special bottle of French wine.
  5. Extend your hospitality. Your relationship will grow stronger from sharing your blessings with others. Invite your neighbors over for brunch. Donate your old books to a senior center and volunteer to read them aloud.
  6. Reminisce and plan ahead. Look back and remind yourself of happy memories. Share with each other the qualities you value in each other. Set goals for the future like starting a rose garden in the spring.
  7. Stay physically fit. Keep your love life strong by taking care of each other. Avoid holiday weight gain and exercise each day. Manage stress and stick to a regular sleep schedule. Give each other a new gym club membership.

Romantic Tips for Singles 

  1. Build up your confidence. Social pressures can sometimes make people uncomfortable about being single. Remind yourself of your strengths and accomplishments. Develop a healthy sense of self-esteem.
  2. Take charge of your own happiness. Your life has value regardless of your marital status. Act happy and you’ll soon feel better. Devote your time to meaningful activities and those good feelings will endure.
  3. Socialize more. If you want to meet new people, you may need to go out more. Accept those holiday party invitations or throw your own potluck gatherings.
    • You may be more comfortable with an activity like ice skating instead of making conversation at cocktail parties. Bring along a friend if you’re hesitant to show up alone.
  4. Focus on others. If being single causes you any distress, distract yourself by looking for ways to help others. Pass around the snacks at parties. Chat with people who are standing on the sidelines. Join the welcoming committee at your local professional association.
  5. Dress up. The person you are inside is what really counts, but attractive packaging has advantages, too. Put your best foot forward by buying some new shoes or a handsome necktie. Experiment with a new hairstyle or makeup that will make you feel irresistible on New Year’s Eve.
  6. Pace yourself. The holidays can be a challenging time to start a new relationship. Exchange modest but thoughtful gifts if you’ve only dated a few times. A book or bakery treat can show you care without being overwhelming. 

Celebrate the holidays by spending more time with the ones you cherish and by reaching out to new people. The love and affection you give away will return to strengthen your old relationships and create new ones. And that’s truly something to celebrate, all year long.