Sanity Savers and More...
February 2006


I think it's a good idea to examine our relationships periodically so that we can infuse them with energy and enthusiasm. This month's Sanity Savers are all about what you can do to create enriching relationships and how you can get along with the people with whom you live.

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Wishing you health, peace and balance.


In this issue
    Relationship Tune-Up
  • Happening in February
  • TIPS
    Living Together
    Spouses, Significant Others, New Loves
  • A Thought

    Relationship Tune-Up

    Get Back on Track
    Have you ever wondered why so many couples are disappointed with their love life? Have you asked yourself, “Is that all there is?” or “Where has the romance gone?” If you have, it is quite possible that there may be nothing wrong with your significant other but it may be an indication that your relationship needs a “tune-up” in order to get back on track or to find a new track together.

    Get Back to "We"
    Relationships are vital and dynamic; they are not static. In order to thrive, they need attention, care and nurturing. When you cease to give what your relationship needs, it fails to flourish. It is during these times that people wonder “what’s wrong with him / her?” It is normal for healthy relationships and marriages to go through phases. We need to be aware that we have the power to infuse humor, tenderness, vitality, interest and joy into our relationships to make them more of what we want and need. When “life gets in the way”; time pressures and stress from work, family obligations, and finances get the better of us, couples can lose sight of the importance of “we” as they focus only on “I.” Getting back to “we” is essential if you want to reclaim a committed bond you once felt for your partner.

    Get Back to Intimacy and Romance
    Changes in your relationship need not signal an end to romance and sexual intimacy. They can be a beginning of a new way to look at things. Most of us are deeply disturbed when romance dissipates. We know it happens to others but we never thought it could happen to us. If you find yourself in this situation, you do not have to stay there. It is important to realize your relationship may be in a readjustment stage and needs more attention.

    Here are some Sanity Savers to renew the spark:

    • Reinforce Your Commitment - Frequent, sincere, verbal restatements of vows or promises keep the relationship at the forefront.
    • Design a “We” Relationship - Take what you like from your parents’, family and friends’ relationships and reject or revise what does not work for you. Just because your parents behaved a certain way is not enough of a reason for that behavior to be part of your relationship repertoire. Think creatively about new ways to relate to each other. Because your lives and your roles change, both as a couple and as individuals, revisit your “design” periodically.
    • Carve Out a Time Together Every Day- Turn off your cell phone, Blackberry or computer and spend time together so that if you want, you can have a conversation, dinner alone, a short walk, and the opportunity to touch without interruption.
    • Respect Your Mate- Use respectful language and actions and be willing to see his or her point of view. Demonstrate appreciation not only for what each of you does but for who you are.
    • Communicate Effectively - Listen and learn to be descriptive instead of evaluative. Realize that communication needs will change over time. Talk about things other than your children, parents or jobs.
    • Try New Things Together - Take a class, work together for a cause, do something you have never done before. Revisit something you both enjoyed that you participated in when you first met but that you have let slide.
    • Problem Solve Together - If one of you has a problem with the other it becomes a problem for both of you. Find ways to work it out. Listen to your partner’s approach.
    • Stay Connected- Be aware of what is going on beneath the surface. Touch base with each other during the day. Plan “alone” time as a couple. Put those dates on your calendar.
    • Let Go of Anger- Understand that unresolved anger and feelings of disappointment can get in the way of emotional or physical intimacy. Decide what you can let go of and address that which you have not been willing to examine.
    • Don't Keep Score-Your marriage is a team effort; not a team sport. Everyone needs encouragement. Scorekeepers do not belong in relationships.
    • Laugh and Have Fun – Having a sense of humor is an essential ingredient to all good relationships. Playful openness can stimulate desire. Be careful that you do not use humor at the expense of your mate.

    Happening in February

    TODAY Show
    Click to Dr. Dale's website for upcoming TODAY Show (NBC) appearances.
    Dates and times subject to change.

    Court TV: Closing Arguments
    February 2nd, Thursday, 3:00 - 5:00pm
    Comments on New Mexico vs. Posey
    Abused teen charged with murder.

    Naomi's New Morning (Naomi Judd)
    The Hallmark Channel
    Click to Dr. Dale's website for date and time.

    92nd Street Y (MAKOR/Steinhardt Center)
    February 9th, Thursday, 1:30 - 3:00pm
    Helicopter Parenting: How to Land, Not Hover

    Also Look For Dr. Dale quoted in:

    Modern Bride
    Feb/March 2006 Issue
    Being with a (Much) Younger Guy

    Minnesota Bride
    Spring/Summer 2006 Issue
    Family Matters

    Living Together
    Spouses, Significant Others, New Loves

    Having trouble living with your spouse or significant other? Are issues like household chores, finances, TV and phone time the “little” things that shouldn’t matter but seem to cause emotional meltdowns? Are you considering moving in with your new love but have some concerns about how to keep your personal space while joining to build a life together?

    As a committed couple, you’re building a life together and learning how to navigate through everyday life. If you find you’re getting frustrated with his or her annoying habits, it DOES NOT have to mean you're not meant to be together. It may just indicate that you should review “Sharing 101” and apply basic negotiating skills to live in harmony for the long run.

    Here are some of the most common potential problem areas couples have when living together:

    1. Live on Common Ground - Whether you’re moving into an existing space previously occupied by only one of you or are looking for a new place, you should both feel comfortable wherever you choose to live. No one should be a guest in his or her home. This especially rings true when one or both of you move in with kids. If you are moving into his house with your 9 year old son who has the potential for bouncing balls inside and breaking windows, this could be a pressure cooker. Instead, it may be wise to think about moving to a different home or somehow negotiating play areas where anything goes (within reason). The windows might break in any case, but when you’re truly living in a space you both regard as common ground, you won’t feel like you have to walk on eggshells.
    2. Choose Décor Together - We’ve all seen those ads for kitchen appliances when opposite partners and their tastes come together to make one fabulous culinary center. If you want a whole new Asian look with a meditation area while your love can’t wait to sink into his comfortably worn brown fuzzy couch with a clicker, compromise is key. When you select items in your home that make both of you happy, then it’s a win-win for all. Come on, you CAN have a fabulous place. There’s a whole world of colors and styles to choose from! It may be worth tossing old “stuff” that no longer has significance in your life BUT remember to respect what your partner values and must hold onto.
    3. We All Need Our Personal Space – The term “living together” says it all. Keep expectations reasonable about how much YOU time you can have but realize that you don’t have to be glued together. Plan personal time when you’re all alone in your place or have lunch out with a friend when there’s too much togetherness. When you do need to be alone and your partner is there, a hug, kiss and “I love you” does wonders before you close the door and escape with a good book.
    4. Plan Dates – “Now that we’re married or living together, we never go out and do fun and romantic things as we did when we lived apart.” If this sounds like you, get back to the things you did when you were dating. A cozy dinner out, a day at the beach or weekend getaways are more important now so you don’t get into a rut.
    5. Communicate, Listen and Learn – When quirky habits get to be big irritants, discussing them with your partner in a non-confrontational way as they arise can nip the problem in the bud. Remember to listen and learn how you can both be more considerate of one another. Try and let go of the “little” annoying habits that truly are little and focus on the real button pushers. We all know by now that you can’t change someone, so accept what you can and creatively problem solve together respecting each other’s differences. It is worth the investment and effort. You are creating the way you want to live together.
    6. Use the Team Approach with Chores – Sticking to a structured routine with household chores can become mundane. If you usually do the dishes while he cooks, surprise him with a tasty dinner (even if it’s take out) for a nice change of pace. By pitching in and lending a hand even when it’s not your territory, you show your partner you value what he or she does to make the household run smoothly.
    7. Discuss Money Before Crossing the Threshold - Honesty and awareness are important when dealing with money matters. Fess up to your partner if you’re a spender or, on the other hand, like to hoard your savings. And be aware of each other’s money habits. Decide who pays for what and how to handle living expenses, especially if incomes differ significantly. No one should have to sneak in with new purchases and say “Oh, this old thing” when you’re debuting a new outfit. A general budgeting plan with room for flexibility is a great idea as you begin your life together under one roof.

    A Thought

    Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.

    Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970), Conquest of Happiness (1930)

    DALE V. ATKINS Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist, lecturer and media commentator who appears regularly on the Today show.

    She has more than twenty- five years of experience as a relationship expert, focusing on families, couples, parenting, aging well and stress management.

    Dr. Atkins is the author and/or co-editor of several books including:

  • Sisters
  • From the Heart:
    Men and Women Write Their Private Thoughts about their Private Lives
  • Families and their Hearing-Impaired Children
  • I'm OK, You're My Parents
    How to Overcome Guilt, Let Go of Anger and Create a Relationship that Works
  • and her lastest book

  • Wedding Sanity Savers
    How to Handle the Stickiest Dilemmas, Scrapes and Questions that Arise on the Road to Your Perfect Day
  • Find out more....
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    Dale's Advice on Weddings at WeddingChannel.com

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