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Tips for Making Your Relationship Stronger, Healthier, and Happier
Dr. Dale V. Atkins, February 2014

With Valentine's Day arriving this month, and New Year's Eve recently behind us, why not resolve to turn your relationship into one that you are consciously making more exciting and happier?

Try these tips:

Shared Memories to Lighten Up. - When we make time to sit down with our partner (without cell phones in hand) and share stories about how we first met, we generally bring ourselves to a place of harmony. We can then share with our partner a quality about him or her that always makes us smile. Doing both of these things can help us get back in touch with the happy side of our relationship. Sometimes, over time, we get into a groove of focusing on the serious matters and don't spend time on the things that bring joy and levity to our relationship.

Take Responsibility. - We each need to take responsibility for our own behaviors, actions and words. If we want to get into better shape, accomplish specific tasks, or work on a project, it is up to us to designate a specific time to do it. We need to look at our calendars and select a date night that is a night for fun. If we wait around for our partner to do it, it may never get done and we can feel resentful. We need to see ourselves as being partners, on the same a team, working toward the same goal.

Respond in a Way That is Good for Your Partner. - When we examine our behaviors we can put into place small but important changes that will help our partners feel appreciated, noticed, loved, valued and supported. When we really think about what is important to our partner, we can respond appropriately. We may not be someone who likes to hear a compliment but our partner thrives on it. We need to remind ourselves that this is NOT about us but about our partner.

Increase Empathy For Each Other. - When we are moving into a space where we feel critical, resentful, angry or judgmental, instead of following that path (and telling ourselves in our head why we have the right to feel this way) we can practice kindness, compassion, and empathy. When we attempt to switch places with our partner and imagine his or her perspective or state of mind or experience, we can look at them and the situation with a more compassionate heart. Showing our partner empathy can prevent misunderstandings and disagreements.

Seize The Moment. - We can avoid "settling" for a relationship where things are just OKAY. Sometimes we get lost in the day to day and forget about delving deeper into nurturing the love we once felt for our partner. Passion and interest and excitement and fun can be re-ignited. Create and seize moments to try new things together, practice healthy behaviors and rekindle your love for each other. We can each be mindful about doing something good for each other and the relationship every day.

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