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Maintaining Happiness Together

You have seen them – those couples who cannot get enough of one another and they have been together for years. What do they know that you do not? One of the biggest relationship advice requests among couples is how to be more like those couples. Believe it or not, it is not actually a secret. In fact, most of the practices of these happy couples you can easily start now by just making the effort – here are some examples.

Keep the Dating Life Alive

Even though your first date may have been years ago, keep dating one another. Plan for nights out for dinner and a movie, or a day date for a picnic in a park. Stay spontaneous, keep up the revealing conversations and share intimate details just like you would when you were dating your partner.

Spend More Time Trying on Each Other’s Shoes

Your partner has their own point of view and so do you. If you expect for you both to agree 100 percent of the time, you’ll be severely disappointed. When you have a disagreement, still be yourself and make your point. But, take the time to reflect back on that moment and relive it in your partner’s shoes. While some couples try this bit of relationship advice and apply it during the fight, you will find better results reflecting back later – not trying to be the other person during your argument.

Treasure the Small Stuff

You do not need a fancy present or big weekend getaway to really appreciate one another. Instead, the happiest couples are those who appreciate and even treasure the small stuff. This can include generosity between one another, making your spouse breakfast in the morning or even just letting her get a little extra sleep and helping out with the children. These small, simple moments are ones that will go a lot further than an expensive tennis bracelet or buying her that dream car.

Live in a Village

There is a popular phrase that it takes a village to raise a child – well it applies to marriages, as well. Couples should surround themselves with people who support their union, honor the sanctity of marriage and appreciate them together as well as individually. Another bit of relationship advice would be to avoid couples or individuals who are negative toward marriage or do not like the idea of you being with your partner. Ultimately, when you and your partner have a disagreement, that negative individual may do more harm than good down the road.

Laugh

Often when couples fall into serious times – marriage, bills, children, etc. – they forget to laugh with one another. In addition, these couples often forget to laugh at the small, stressful stuff. For example, you and your spouse had to barrel through the airport to avoid missing your flight. But once you get on the plane, you do not laugh about the adventure, you stress about what you may have forgotten to pack in the rush. Remembering to laugh and let go not only improves your own mood, but can really improve your marriage.

By trying these small steps out, you are likely to cultivate even more happiness than what is already there.

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Building Your Marriage on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness

The Four Foundations of Mindfulness are based on the Satipatthana Sutta, one of the most important and widely studied discourses in Buddhism. This fourfold “establishment of mindfulness” was created to help us attain, as well as maintain, moment-to-moment mindfulness in our lives.

The Four Foundations of Mindfulness are:

  1. Mindfulness of your body
  2. Mindfulness of your feelings
  3. Mindfulness of your mind or consciousness
  4. Mindfulness of how your mind operates

It’s important to note that you don’t have to be a Buddhist to benefit from practicing mindfulness in your marriage. As we’ve read in The Mindful Marriage, mindfulness empowers you to become more present to everything in your life, including your relationship with your partner.

Mindfulness of Your Body

The first foundation is mindfulness of your physical body. This base foundation provides a starting point and brings you into the present moment. You can get in tune with your body by doing Mindfulness Meditation or by conducting a body scan.

The intention of a body scan is to simply become aware of and present with your body. It’s nice to relax and it’s great if it happens, but that’s not the goal of this exercise. The goal is to check in with each area of your body in a nonjudgmental way, to feel what there is to feel.

The Mindful Marriage Body Scan
Begin by sitting comfortably. Start to “feel” into the areas of your body that are in contact with your chair in this moment. Feel into where your feet touch the ground. Feel where your legs, your back, your arms, and maybe even your head comes into contact with the chair. You may be feeling tingling or a change in temperature. Notice your breath entering and leaving your body. Remember to continue to breathe easily throughout this entire exercise.

Now, move your attention to your ankles and lower legs. What do you feel? Perhaps it’s the pressure of your legs against the ground or fabric. If you notice that your attention is somewhere else, gently and without judgment return your attention to your legs. Sometimes it’s helpful to imagine that you are breathing into your lower legs – as if your attention could ride on the breath.

Next, move your attention to your knees and thighs. What do you feel? Remember, tingling or even numbness counts as a sensation. Notice that thinking about a specific area or picturing it in your mind’s eye is different from actually feeling it.

Let your focus move from your thighs to your lower trunk, your pelvis and your belly, up to your belly button. Notice any sensations in these areas.

Now, let go and feel into your upper body – your stomach and chest areas, feeling the sensations of the breath here with each inhalation and each exhalation. Feel your spine against the back of the chair. Notice any sensations – or absence of sensations – that are here.

From here, move your attention to your hands and each of your fingers. Then, when you’re ready, move your focus to your wrists and forearms and feel there. From there, move to your elbows and upper arms, noticing any sensations or lack of sensations. Remember, if your mind wanders off, bring it back to the body part you are focusing on.

Move your attention to your shoulders, the back of your neck, and then to your head. Feel your jaw, your face, mouth, nose, cheeks, eyes, forehead, and your entire face.

Now, become openly aware of your entire body again. Imagine breathing from the crown of your head all the way down into your toes and up and out again. Notice all the sensations in body and allow them to be just as they are in this moment.

Allow some movement back into your body, like wiggling your fingers and toes. Stretch your body in any way it wants that feels good. Take a moment to reflect on your experience.

In marriage, mindfulness of your body will help you to become cognizant of yourself before tension can elevate into conflict. For example, if you’re talking with your partner and you feel a knot in your stomach, it may be a signal that you need to express something that you’re holding back. Pay attention to fluctuation in your body temperature, pressure in your head, tension or pain in your joints, and tingling in your hands and feet.

Mindfulness of Your Feelings

The second foundation is mindfulness of your feelings or sensations. As you begin to become mindful of your physical body, your awareness of feelings and sensations also becomes heightened.

Feelings can be classified into three tones:

  1. Pleasant
  2. Unpleasant
  3. Neutral

These tones correspond with your emotions and help you to see things as they really are.

It’s not unusual to see things differently than your partner. For example, if you both watch the same movie, one of you may love it and think of it as a pleasant experience while the other may really dislike it and perceive it as an unpleasant experience. Your different “feelings” about the movie can result in a disagreement that escalates and leads to conflict.

Coming to terms with your feelings and emotions, especially when they’re unpleasant, can be downright uncomfortable. Given the choice, most of us would prefer to avoid them and push them under the rug. This is unhealthy. Instead, take time to understand your feelings and label them – pleasant, unpleasant, neutral. Remember that these tones aren’t judgments or thoughts. They are merely a way to classify what you are feeling and sensing so that you can comfortably “be” with things as they are.

Mindfulness of Your Mind or Consciousness

The third foundation is mindfulness of your mind or consciousness. Another way to think of this foundation is to be mindful of your mental state without making judgements. This foundation focuses on turning your attention towards your mental activity (those thoughts and emotions running rampant in your head) and offers up a different lens to see them as objects that can be observed in a non-reactive way.

Just like your feelings and sensations, your various states of mind come and go, depending on what is happening in your relationship and your life in general. Sometimes you are restless and discontent, sometimes you are happy and full of positivity. These thoughts, feelings, and states of mind can pull you into a narrative that may not be accurate. This only serves to distract you from the present moment.

As you learn to observe your mental states without judgment or opinion, you can start to disentangle yourself from unbeneficial thoughts. Mindfulness of your mind with this awareness will empower you to approach your marriage with a newfound perspective.

Mindfulness of How Your Mind Operates

The fourth and last foundation is mindfulness of how your mind operates. This foundation focuses on opening yourself up to the world you experience.

This asks you to look at your subjective experiences as a gateway. It prompts you to ask questions like, “What am I identifying with or resisting that keeps me tied to this suffering?” or, “What is the origin of this suffering?” Being mindful of your experiences in this way allows you to get to the root of your subjective experience, allowing you to become fully aware and open.

For example, if you’ve had a regrettable incident with your partner, you’re likely feeling sad, angry, misunderstood, tense and/or irritable. You may launch into negative thoughts and judgments about yourself or your partner and how you both reacted. You might be thinking, “Why was he/she so mean? Nothing ever seems to work between us!”

If you can be mindful of how your mind operates, unpacking the experience so it doesn’t remain a ball of confused emotions, sensations, and mind states, then you are more apt to reduce gridlock in your relationship. This allows whatever is arising in your body in response to conflict – that tension or shortness of breath you’re experiencing – to come and go with an attitude of friendliness, openness, and understanding. In this state, you become more self-aware and can resist the urge to stonewall.

Putting these Four Foundations of Mindfulness into practice will ultimately put you in touch with your body, feelings, mind, and how your mind operates, helping you to wake up to yourself, your partner, and the needs of your marriage.

 

Article source: The Gottman Blog

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Handling Resentment

Sometimes even the best marriage is not always 100% perfect. There are times where both parties will feel a little resentment, and while this will not cause a divorce, it is all about how the couple handles these issues that makes the difference. When people ignore these emotions and just sweep them under the rug, more toxic feelings can fester, which leads to resentment. For men, it is easier to sweep an issue under the rug than attack it, so understand what makes your husband aggravated and how to handle it may actually improve your marriage.

How Your Handle Your Fights – Happy couples have fights, too. A happy couple, however, knows how to fight better. Rather than blaming their partner, they discuss their feelings and what they are aggravated about. When you need to bring up a conversation, try not to start it off on a negative note or with the blame-game; instead, let your partner know how you feel and what you suggest to overcome it.

How You Treat Your Spouse – You might think your husband is a slob or cannot dress himself, but if you start doing it for him, he will resent you. Treating your husband like a child or talking down to him can create significant resentment issues. After all, no one wants to feel like they are not in charge of their own life.

Having Others Involved – Men rarely enlist the help from others to solve their marital problems. Women, however, will discuss it with friends and family. These individuals will get involved, which only makes matters worse. Rather than allow others in, create a couple’s bubble and keep your marital issues between the two of you.

Basic Appreciation – Your husband does things and does not expect appreciation for it, but there are times offering up praise is important. If you only recognize the things he does wrong and you do not offer praise for the things he does right, he may start to resent you for it. Consider noting when he does things right and giving him the attention he deserves for it.

Withholding Sex – How many times have you gotten upset with your partner only to withhold sex? While you might think you are justified, holding sex back as a way to punish your partner does long-term damage to your relationship. This can create feelings of resentment that your partner will harbor for months – if not years. Next time you are upset, tell him, rather than withholding sex.

Trying To Change The Other Person – People can change, but only when they want to change. There may be something you don not like about your partner, but you should not work to change that thing. If you focus on all of the things you do not like about your partner and try to change them constantly, they will not feel like their own person. Instead, accept your partner for the way they are, let them do their quirky things and work on changing what is really important – let the little things go.

While these things may seem trivial, the more you do them, the more they add up. Try to avoid negative feelings in your relationship by discussing your issues with one another. Keep in mind that happy couples still fight and it is perfectly healthy. But the way you handle the fights and what you fight about can determine the overall success of your relationship.

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Staying True To You in Relationships

Relationships can often be complex and yet remain wonderful at the same time. Having a connection with another person is a feeling that most people long for and search for. Finding it can often mean absorbing it like a sponge. A person loves the way it feels so much that they can often get consumed by it. What happens then?

The one mistake people often make when they get into a relationship is that they forget that there are two people within the relationship. One person can often forget that they have their own hopes and dreams as well. So they walk down a path doing what their partner loves, supporting their partner to the point that they forget about themselves, in the end forgetting who they are as an individual.

Taking some time for yourself to do the things that you love to do is not a bad thing. Each person needs their own time and their own space. You both need to do the things that you love and remember that even though you have separate goals it doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve them together.

Having personal goals within a relationship doesn’t spell D-O-O-M. In fact, maintaining those goals and going for them can actually make you a better person, which means a better partner within the relationship. Your goals can be large or small ones. It could be something as simple as you want to walk 7 miles a week. That doesn’t mean your partner has to be by your side for those 7 miles, although that would be a bonus. It means you have a personal goal that you want to accomplish because it will make you feel good, but most importantly it’s something that “you” want to achieve for yourself. Having personal goals enriches you as a person. Again, remember that when you are a better person for yourself then you are a better person for the relationship over all.

You never want to look back on something and wonder what if. You also don’t ever want to let go of the things that you hoped to achieve before the relationship, because then you may look back and resent the relationship on some level. Plus if your partner is constantly achieving their goals and dreams while you put yours on the back burner for them, it can often build a wall between the two of you.

Take time to remember even the smallest things like your hobbies. If you love to garden then take some time to plant the things you love and tend to your garden. Perhaps you love working in the wood shop and building things. If so, then take some time to do that. Doing the things you love can be therapeutic and actually recharge you.

The bottom line is to always remember that there are two of you in a relationship, but it’s also important to remember that a relationship is made up of two “individuals.” Each person has their own goals, passions, dreams, and desires. Remembering that will make you a better person overall. In the end, the result is a stronger relationship that can withstand the test of time.

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LIFE in Relationships

When a couple first gets together everything is new. There’s an excitement that can make the relationship feel like it will never end, like things will never change. However, as time goes on and life gets in the way, the dynamics of the relationship changes and we have to look at the sudden distance that has surfaced.

The closeness that was once there seems to have withered away. The gentle hand-holding or even the casual public displays of affection are becoming a memory. Where has the time gone and why is the relationship fading? You ask yourself, is the end approaching, do I need to get relationship tips from someone specialized? You know you love your partner and you know that each and every day wouldn’t be the same without them in it. So if that’s the case, then why do you seem further apart?

Maybe it’s time to take a step back and look at the relationship for what is it. In most cases the relationship is not over even though it may seem that way. Instead, you simply need to breathe a little life back into your relationship. The foundation has always been there, but over time so many things have gotten in the way and the two of you have forgotten about the basics that brought you together in the first place. That love and ultimately that connection need to be remembered because it’s those things that make you the couple that you are.

Remember these great little tips to breathe life back into your relationship:

L – Laugh

Laughter is one of the best remedies when it comes to rebuilding a connection with the one you love. Take time to be silly. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, laughter makes you feel good.

I – Instill

Instill confidence in one another by remembering the best qualities that you bring to the table. Why do you love the one you’re with? What was it that made you fall for them? If it was his/her sparkling personality then remind them of how special that is. Instill confidence in them that they still make your clock tick.

F – Forgive

Forgiveness is hard to do but if you’re holding onto any anger, hostility or resentment then in order to truly make a fresh start you need to forgive them. It’s the only way you can truly wipe the slate clean. Without it, you never will truly reconnect.

E – Embrace

Don’t ever forget that there is power in a single touch. When you’re hurting or sad, a simple embrace can feel so good and make everything seem ok. It also reminds you of how good it feels to be so close to the one you love. Take time to hold one another and remember that connection and how good it feels. Sometimes the best remedies don’t involve words but more of a touch.

Breathing life into your relationship doesn’t mean years of counseling and therapy. Sometimes you just have to remove all the obstacles and get to the heart of what used to be and what can be again.

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Fostering A Healthy Relationship

In terms of Maintaining A Healthy Relationship, in this article we are going to discuss how to foster a great relationship with your partner.  Maintaining a healthy relationship takes time, energy, and work.  With these guidelines to lead as an example, relationships can not only maintain, but also blossom.

Have A Solid Friendship – Ask yourself what kind of friend you are being to your partner.  Apply the same openness that you have in your other friendships to the partnership.  Think about the “get what you give” philosophy – if you want a good friend in your partner, then be a good friend to them.   Provide encouragement and support to your mate to make them feel special and show them that they make a difference in your world.

Know Your Partner – Your partner possesses qualities that make them special to you, as well as a unique person in their own right.  Your partner likely has areas of sensitivities and vulnerability, in addition to their preferences, interests, and values.  Being aware of what makes them “tick” and engaging in behaviors that nurture and support those special qualities can enhance the intimacy and vibrancy of the relationship.  Remember what you honor and respect about your partner.

Strive For Emotional Intimacy – Emotional intimacy has been described as “unbridled mutual self-disclosure” – which implies a willingness to share from the heart.  It means getting in touch with and letting the other person know our feelings.  It is also being authentic; it is through emotional intimacy that relationships grow.

Make Time To Be Together – Cultivate passion and intimacy.  Make time for dates and romance while treating that time together as special and sacred.  Find strategies to create time together that work best for you as a couple.  Some couples devote the first 15 minutes of their morning or last 15 minutes of their evening “their time”; others have a standing date night.  A daily ritual that you both can look forward to being together, while being uninterrupted, will help intimacy and attachment grow.

Let Your Partner Influence You – Many issues in relationships have nothing to do with the “facts” and everything to do with the feelings about the issue.  We are emotional beings, emotions are bound to rise up, especially in our relationships.  It is important that you both understand each other’s positions.  Some issues have no solutions and oftentimes understanding and mutual respect are all that you really need.  Couples learn to simply contain the issues and not let them escalate through positive communication and empathy.

Solve The Solvable Issue – All couples will likely have a few issues that will never be resolved fully, due to difference of opinion and background.  What is important is to develop a dialog with your partner about this set of irreconcilable differences.  Treat them as you would if you were coping with a chronic bad back or trick knee – you don’t like them, you wish they were not there, but you learn to work around them by talking and learning how to live with them.  Having patience will be helpful in these situations, as well.

Create Shared Meaning – As a couple, having some concept of what you both think a relationship and a partnership are supposed to be would be useful.  Perhaps write down your definitions of a successful relationship and do your best to live up to those definitions.  Focus on the fundamental things that are going to make a difference in the long run.  Create specific goals as a couple, and also individually, on how you want to improve your relationship, and then follow through with them.

Maintaining a healthy relationship requires, well, maintenance.  Using these tips and tools will help keep your relationship in balance and maintained.

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Behaviours in Maintaining a Healthy Relationship

In this article we will go over the behaviors that intensify conflict along with the behaviors that diminish conflict.  There are many areas in which differences may appear in our relationships.  We may find that we disagree about politics or religion, or we may have different styles of communication which could become problematic over time.  Healthy relationships expect and allow for differences – in a healthy relationship, you will find ways to work through them together.

Behaviors That Intensify Conflict

Criticism – Negating or blaming your partner in issuing a complaint.  “You are so inconsiderate when…” is a criticism that could provoke defensiveness in your partner.

Contempt – Scorn, disrespect, or disgracing your partner.  Some forms of contempt underlie verbal abuse.  “You are so dumb…”

Defensiveness – Denying a problem or denying your share of personal responsibility for problems in the relationship.

Stonewalling – When a partner is stonewalling in communication in a relationship, they are usually using delaying or stalling tactics, refusing to answer questions, doing what can be done to hinder or obstruct a discussion, or bluntly refusing to cooperate with their partner.  This behavior usually drives away and rejects their partner.

Flooding – Overwhelming the other person with a bombardment of words or emotional outbursts that do not allow a true dialogue between the two of you.

Behaviors That Diminish Conflict 

Set Boundaries – Boundaries are the limits we set to protect ourselves.  Some examples of boundary-setting for conflict are:  No name calling; no use of obscenities; no yelling; no going to bed angry; and, keep past arguments in the past.

Clearly Communicate Your Needs – If you want or need something from your partner, it should be your responsibility to communicate those needs clearly and directly.

Identify And Own Your Feelings – Using “I” statements helps describe your feelings.  For example – “I feel upset when you forget to call and tell me that you will be late for dinner.”  Describe your emotional reactions to behaviors and events.  Try not to attack the person or personality of your partner.

Learn The Art Of Negotiation – Every relationship we have with each other has a give and a take.  When you have differences, find ways to come to an agreement together that you can both be satisfied with.

Drop Your Assumptions – Step back from judging or assuming that you know what the other is thinking or feeling.  When we assume we know why someone said or did something, and then proceed with that as “fact”, it causes us to react to our assumptions rather than understand the facts of the situation.

Consider The Other Person’s Point Of View – Do not lose sight of the other person’s perspective – learn to value it.  Listen and acknowledge the other person’s concerns, then talk about why you perceive the situation differently.  Encourage your partner to explain their feelings and make assurances that you want to understand their perspective.  Then make an honest attempt to listen and honor their perspective.

Create Win-Win Solutions – Sometimes when dealing with differences or conflict in a relationship, we can get ourselves locked into position of needing to be “right” and make the other person “wrong”.  With your partner, forget “right” and “wrong”; the question should become whether or not what the two of you are doing is working in the relationship.  The disagreement then is transformed into a problem that the two of you can work on together to improve.  Be flexible; be open to new approaches in addressing conflict in the relationship.

Maintaining a healthy relationship takes time, energy, and work.  With these guidelines to lead as an example, relationships can not only maintain, but also grow.

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Maintaining A Healthy Relationship

Creating and maintaining a healthy relationship is something that can be done throughout the year.  In this article, we will go over the stages of relationships, as defined by Harville Hendrix.  Harville has crafted relationships into five significant stages.  As you read over them, begin to think about where you are currently in your relationship.

Stages of Relationships  

Romantic Love – Couples begin marriage in a state of romantic bliss.  During this euphoric phase, which usually lasts the first to third years or marriage, newlyweds wear the proverbial “rose-colored” glasses –  life and love are perfect.  Differences tend to be discounted and faults are few.  This is the time that spouses seek the intimacy they crave.

Disillusionment or The Power Struggle – This second stage is disappointment time, often with faultfinding.  Partners realize that the other’s behavior is irritating or even hurtful.  This stage can be frightening and it is when many couples see divorce as the only option.  Often, the lack of effective communication skills, problem-solving skills, and the ability to compromise and negotiate leave many couples stuck indefinitely in this stage.  Also, the battle of wills occur, and to successfully leave this stage each individual must find a way to adjust to the ways of his/her partner.

Cooperation: Knowledge and Awareness – Stage two can leave the couple feeling stung and hurt by the damage rendered by the turbulent times.  If the couple perseveres and is willing to learn the communication and negotiation skills to navigate the power struggle, a new sense of acceptance and willingness to change enters the relationship.  Learning new relationship skills, and cultivating creativity within the relationship often accompany this shift in thought.  Partners take responsibility for their own problems and shed the illusion that their partner is the key to their happiness.

Acceptance – Stage four is often called acceptance, commitment or mutuality.  You and your partner realize that regardless of whom you are with, there will be problems, so you might as well stay in the relationship and work them out.  Togetherness just feels secure, and there exists a heightened sense of belonging.  The unhealthy patterns that dogged their relationship seem like ancient history.  This acceptance is the bridge to ultimate transformation and a love that can be enjoyed for a lifetime.

Transformation – Couples who put in the time and effort reap this final reward.  Intimacy is second nature.  The attitude is “we grow together.”  This is also called “co-creativity.”  Stage five couples develop a web of meaningful relationships that support the marriage and deepen the joy.  In this final stage, couples know what the fairy tales neglected to mention: Love is hard work.

Were you able to identify where you currently are?  In another article we will go over the behaviors that intensify conflict (and behaviors that diminish conflict) along with how to deal with differences.

 

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Commitment Stages

Real life relationships are not like those in fairy tales or romance novels. If that happens to be your expectation, you could be setting yourself up for some serious disappointment. Stages of relationships can be both good and bad, depending on the couple and the dynamic under which their relationship operates. One of the most important aspects of building a strong stages of relationships is in facing reality and the manner in which you approach that reality. If you have your head in the clouds and do not (or cannot) accept that relationships change and face this reality, then you are in for some major shock and your ability to adapt and maintain a healthy relationship could be inhibited.

Depending on the research you uncover and who is being asked, there are varying opinions as to the number of stages of relationships, as well as what those stages are and what they consist of.  The exception to the rule is that our recognition is of the evolution of stages in committed relationships, not merely those who are dating or simply have a physical arrangement.

The 6 Stages of Commitment

  1. Infatuation – This stages of relationships is about romantic love, fantasies, and hope. The relationship is fairly new, you’re head-over-heels in love, and you either do not notice your partner’s faults or choose to justify or ignore them because of your deep emotional attachment and vision of the future.
  2. Adjustment – Those fantasies begin to subside and you begin to see the reality – real life, you partner’s faults, things that annoy you, etc. At this point, you begin to consider these things, adjusting to them as facts of life, learning to cope or voice your opinion on the matters.
  3. Conflict – As reality sets in, conflicts emerge. All couples inevitably have disagreements. It is how you handle these disagreements, how you react to one another, and how you learn to live in harmony despite your differences that matters most. This makes a huge difference in the future success of the relationship and the level of fighting a couple will experience.
  4. Re-Examination – During this relationship stage, reality and conflicts have come to a head, and it is time to decide which differences you can live with, if you see a future with your partner, and to decide whether to stay with your partner or cut your losses and move on. During this stage, some emotional and physical withdrawal is normal. However, it is also the stage where the risk of separation, divorce, and even an affair is at its highest. A separation can be good for some cou0ples, helping them to consider things very carefully and to develop both individually and as a couple. This is really not the time to run to divorce court or into an affair, even if these things commonly occur at this stage. If the relationship has any chance of recovery, it is important to work on development and to honor your commitment.
  5. Reconciliation – If the relationship survives re-examination, the next stage is a recognition of interest and love. Couples want to be closer and to work on reigniting that fame they had in the beginning of their relationship. At this point, they learn to live with one another’s differences and have learned how to gauge reactions, deal with conflict, and to compromise. This is the beginning of acceptance and a point where the relationship may be stronger than ever before.
  6. Acceptance – Few couples ever actually reach this stage. Full acceptance means you have successfully navigated through the other stages of relationships, are still together, have created some balance between couplehood and individuality, and while conflict still occurs, have learned how to handle conflict and to choose your battles wisely. You are not only lovers; you are a partnership, and a strong one at that.

All couples experience these stages of relationships in some form, though some to a lesser degree than others. There is no specific chronological order; however, it is difficult to justify how these relationship stages could evolve in any other order. Additionally, while some experts claim there is a specific period for each stage, this too is a questionable claim. Some couples remain infatuated for many years until certain changes occur. Couples who experienced little conflict may find themselves fighting more down the road. The bottom line is that relationships evolve, and this evolution, if handled properly, can create a stronger bond and a lasting love.

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Transforming Everyday Relationship Issues

Marriage is not pleasant all of the time, but certainly you will have more happier than sad times. It is natural to have those moments where you question if this is the right situation for you – your partner will do the same. There are, however, those situations that never make it work, like cheating or deal-breaking behaviors. But, believe it or not there are marriage problems that are considered “good” problems that will not mess up your relationship and should never be considered deal breakers.

Fantasizing about Others

A lot of couples who are looking for answers to what makes relationships work are concerned about their fantasies or their partner’s fantasies for someone other than their significant other. Believe it or not, these fantasies are nothing to worry about – in fact, they are healthy. Having an imagination allows you and your partner to open up more emotionally and physically with one another. Of course, you should not act on these fantasies.

Going Out with the Guys

Many women get defensive or feel their husband is leaving them out when they go out for guy time. Interests and maintaining friend relationships outside of the marriage are key in finding what makes relationships work. This break from the relationship allows each partner to miss one another, engage in activities and release any steam that could create tension down the road.

Arguing

You may have fights, but fights do not mean your relationship is over or even close to over. Fighting is a way for partners to share how they feel with one another – meaning you both trust one another enough to get it all out in the open. As long as you both do not attack one another, productive arguing can strengthen your marriage. Also, avoid recycling old arguments – meaning try not to bring up an argument that happened last week. Once it is over and resolved, it is done.

Being Too Tired for Sex

Intimacy is important in any relationship, but there are times one or the other may be too tired to engage in sex or other intimate activities. Today’s couple is often over-scheduled and it is not uncommon to have limited time for intimacy or anything else. Try scheduling a time for intimacy rather than waiting for that magical “spark” so that you have fun – it is something to look forward to and you get that testosterone and mojo moving again.

A healthy marriage can be full of “good” problems. Often couples assume these good problems are detrimental to the success of their relationship and they begin to pull away. As long as you are open, honest and willing to work through your issues, you and your partner will understand what makes relationships work faster than any other couple in the neighborhood.

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