Posts

Creating Work-Life Balance

This is an image that comes to mind for many when balance is mentioned – being on a tight rope with so many things to keep aligned so that you or nothing else falls.  In this post, we will discuss steps to take to view balance as a desirable state that produces a feeling of well-being.

Clarify Your Values – Many decisions are based on what we believe as being important to us.  Determine what you value, both in work and your personal life, by giving it worth, merit or importance.

Set Your Goals – Goals are based on your values and what we hold as important.  Goals should help give you focus.  A goal should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.  Make your goal specific and as detailed as possible by answering the six “W” questions – Who? What? Where? When? Which? Why?

Prioritize – By listing your goals on a to-do list in order of importance, you will be able to address the issues that need the most attention.  Consider time constraints, requests from others, and any consequences.  Know that you can always come back to this list to re-prioritize.

Be Flexible – Being flexible is important as priorities can often shift and change due to environment, circumstances or demands from our job, partner, children or friends.  Remaining flexible allows you to more easily reevaluate your values and/or goals.

Take Time For Yourself – Making time for yourself is extremely important because your health and sense of well being will have an effect on you reaching your goals and balancing your work and life.  Gift yourself the time to meditate, exercise, rest, and/or pamper yourself.  Your mind, body, and spirit will thank you for it.

Signs Of Burnout – Burnout can take place when you are under a lot of stress – emotional exhaustion, physical exhaustion, feelings of being overwhelmed, lose of interest or motivation, lack of productivity.  Learn to listen to yourself to really understand when you may be close to burning out and needing to take a break.  The earlier you recognize any of the signs, the better you can prevent and work on the issue.

Ask For Help – Do not be afraid to ask others for help!  Seek advice from your partner, friends, and other family members.

Remember that work life balance is always an on-going process, never a permanent state.  We are constantly making choices and those choices help determine whether or not your life is in balance.  If yours are aligned with what you hold most important and valuable, you will likely feel a sense of balance.

 

Facebook Rules for a Happy Marriage

Almost everyone in the world uses Facebook. It can be a fun way to pass the time while also staying in touch with your family and friends. It can also be incredibly destructive to a marriage. Many modern marriages have seriously suffered because of Facebook-obsessed spouses or online social media affairs. That is why it is essential that you play by the Facebook rules for a happy marriage.

Here are five Facebook rules for a happy marriage:

1.     Set Your Status to Married

Many single people (and married people who wish to be single) will scope out potential mates on Facebook, and they assume anyone without a marital status must be fair game. You can avoid any potential misconceptions by clearly stating that you are married on your profile page. It is also a good idea to use a picture of you and your spouse as your profile pic.

2.     Allow Your Spouse Access to Your Account

If you are in a healthy and happy marriage, there should be no reason for your spouse to check your account, however, you should still make the option available to them. Giving them your password will give your spouse reassurance that you are not hiding anything. There shouldn’t be any secrets from your spouse in the first place, so there is no legitimate reason to deny them access.

3.      Limit Time Spent on Facebook Games

Online games are designed to be highly addictive, and it is easy to waste hours every day playing around on Facebook. Talk to your spouse about how much time is acceptable and then agree on a limit that works for both of you. It is also important to the health of your marriage that you don’t turn down spending time with your spouse to play Facebook games. Try to find games where you can interact with each other like “Words with Friends.”

4.     Post Only Positive Statuses About Your Spouse

Facebook is a public forum, which means it is not a place to vent about what your husband or wife did wrong. If someone is interested in you sexually and they see that you often complain about your husband, it may look like an open invitation. If you regularly post statuses about your daily life, make sure to only choose moments that reflect positively on your relationship.

5.     Reject Flirting Immediately

It doesn’t take much for an innocent conversation to turn sexual. Happily married couples should instantly reject any private or public conversation if it appears that the person has ulterior motives. Don’t be afraid to unfriend anyone whose flirting makes you feel uncomfortable. You might temporarily hurt their feelings, but you will hurt your spouse a lot more if they discover you were participating in the flirtation.

Facebook has billions of users, and the majority of people log on daily to check the newsfeed, play games, and chat with friends. It is an exciting social platform and there is no real reason for happy couples to avoid Facebook, as long as you and your spouse agree to play by the rules.

Self-Compassion In Relationships

Our relationships with our partners, family and friends often take some effort to maintain as neglecting any aspect of one of our relationships can result in miscommunication, misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and resentment.  Many factors go into making a relationship work, including what you do to take care of yourself during high stress moments.  In this article, we are discussing self-compassion and the things that can make a significant difference to you and your partner.

What is self-compassion?

“Compassion is sensitivity to the suffering of self and others and a commitment to do something about it.” – Paul Gilbert

Self-compassion is a state of warm-hearted, connected presence during difficult moments in our lives.  It provides emotional strength and resilience, allowing us to admit our shortcomings, forgive ourselves, motivate ourselves with encouragement, and care for others. Self-compassion is a skill that can be cultivated by anyone.

It is having mindfulness, common humanity and kindness towards oneself.  Mindfulness is holding your own thoughts and feelings rather than suppressing or being carried away by them.  Common humanity is the understanding that your feelings and experiences are not completely unique. No matter how hard we try to avoid or hide them, all of us have our ups and downs, and sometimes the downs include pain, frustration and disappointment.  Being kind to yourself is not only providing comfort in the moment; it is also committing, whenever possible, to reducing future instances of such suffering.

How To Bring Self-Compassion Into Your Relationships  

1. Remind yourself to slow down.  Take notice of when you become irritable or angry when you are with your partner.  Taking notice is the first step to making a change.  Meeting yourself where you are, rather where you think you should be, will help to you to accept the situation, calm yourself, and slow down.

2. Ask yourself how can you and your partner be happy right now.  Enjoy what you want for the fact that you like it or the activity of it.  This will help bring more awareness about yourself and what makes you happy.

3. When you make a mistake, it becomes a great opportunity to express compassion.  Remember that we are all human and we probably will hurt someone, in this case, our partner, or ourselves – it is part of the human experience.  Taking responsibility for the mistake is a great example of using compassion towards yourself along with situation or person that was hurt.

4.  Learn to generate a kind voice in your own head.  Think of something that you do not like about yourself – as if you have a critic.  What is the critic saying and what emotions are rising as you hear them?   Invite and acknowledge all of these feelings and emotions, whatever they are – anger, sadness, fear, resentment, envy.  Try not to judge any of it as they are simply just thoughts and feelings moving through you. It is neither bad nor good, just awareness.  The compassionate self must be built – this is a great awareness exercise for building it up.

As you practice self-compassion, you will likely discover the awareness of being present.  You will feel more freedom to show up as you are and a greater sense of well-being, for yourself and your relationships.  Another wonderful outcome of practicing self-compassion is once you’ve experienced it for yourself, you will have it to share with others and it will flow automatically and effortlessly.

 

Save

Relationship Communication Quiz

Here is a true or false relationship communication quiz.  There are no rights or wrongs in the number of true or false answers to this quiz.  Simply look over your responses to get a feel for where communication problems or perceptions exist.  Encourage your partner to take the quiz as well, either together or separately, either way will suffice. Once you both have a tally on where the communication in the relationship stands, refer back to the article on communication in relationships to review some basic communication principles for a healthy dialog between partners.

1. I often cannot seem to find the right words to express what I want to say.
True or False

2. I do not speak up because it tends to only make things worse.
True or False

3. I tend to worry that exposing myself to my partner will result in rejection.
True or False

4. I often do not speak up because I am afraid my opinion is wrong.
True or False

5. I talk too much and do not give my partner a chance to speak.
True or False

6. I do not look forward to my partner speaking.
True or False

7. My speech can often be defensive.
True or False

8. I frequently bring up my partners past failures.
True or False

9. My words do not match my actions.
True or False

10. Once I get started in an argument, I have trouble stopping.
True or False

11. I do not honestly listen.
True or False

12. I try to repay anger with anger or insult with insult.
True or False

13. I tease my partner too much.
True or False

14. I do not spend enough time speaking of really important things.
True or False

15. I often lie by omission.
True or False

16. It irritates me when my partner brings up a problem.
True or False

17. I think that it is important to lay out to my partner all of the complaints I have about them.
True or False

18. I tend to say, “you always” or “you never,” when discussing my complaints with my partner.
True or False

19. I rarely state my complains to keep from hurting my partner.
True or False

20. I state my complaints often in a heated manner.
True or False

21. I do not like to argue because I feel arguing reflects poorly on the relationship.
True or False

22. I do not like to discuss our negative feelings because it only makes us feel worse.
True or False

23. I do not feel I should have to bring up what is bothering me because my partner should already know.
True or False

Again, there are no rights or wrongs in the number of true or false answers to this quiz.  This is just to simple gage where you are currently in your communication process of your relationship.  As with all things, knowing is the first step forward.

Cultivating Positive Emotions

By now, most of us have heard about surrounding ourselves with as much positive as possible verses negative – but what does that mean when it comes to our relationships?  First we have to look at the quality of our thoughts in general.  Do you tend to think “I can’t do that” or “I can do that”?  Becoming knowledgable on which side you lean towards is the most important step as it creates the awareness of where you presently stand.

The next thing to look at is our emotions.  Are your emotions mostly happy, angry, or a combination of both?  If we look at a wide range of positive emotions—from awe to amusement to interest to inspiration to gratitude—what they all have in common is that they are responses to your current state or experience at that time.  They are usually not a permanent state, only feelings that fluctuate.  This is true for all emotions, however the positive emotions tend to be more temporary, as we do live in a very busy, sometimes overwhelming, world.  Often, we are not aware of the positive emotions due to our tendency to see the negative ones.

Positive emotions are also desired states.  Not only do they feel good, but we desire to feel them, as often as possible.  Some people might say it feels good to be angry, and at times anger can be useful or productive, but generally, people do not desire to feel angry.  Positive emotions can make us healthier and happier if we take time to cultivate them.

When people increase their daily doses of positive emotions, they find more meaning and purpose in life.  They also find that they receive more social support—or perhaps they just notice it more, because they are more attuned to themselves and others.  They begin to show mindful awareness of the present moment and increased positive relations with each other, especially true within your relationship.

SIMPLE STEPS TO CULTIVATING POSITIVE EMOTIONS 

A positive emotional relationship begins with believing in yourself and also in your relationship.  Know that you are both good people who are deserving of each other’s love and kindness.  If this is something you have doubts about, it would be helpful to think about what your needs and wants are along with your partner’s and reaffirm your connection with one another.  If the two of you believe in one another and both of you want a positive lifestyle, you may need to learn how to make the commitment to do your best to maintain a positive demeanor and start with small baby steps.  Being aware of what brings you gratitude, joy and happiness and to notice on a daily basis what actually makes you feel good is the first step of being mindful of positive emotions.

An example would be if you come home from work, exhausted, and take notice that your partner has neglected to do the dishes that have been sitting in the sink all day.  Your partner hands you a cup of tea and suggests you relax.  You have a choice in the moment to either react and get angry at the neglected dishes or take a breath and realize the positive verses the negative.

What is required is the willingness to make a change for the better, being aware of your patterns that are not working, adjusting your thoughts and attitudes toward life and each other.  This process is one that takes time and it will likely take more than a moment for you to see and feel the results.  Much like compassion, positivity is an ongoing process.  As part of that process, you will need to accept that sometimes we experience positive and negative emotions, which is part of life.  We want to be able to understand and accept our negative emotions while not getting caught up in them.  Being aware of the pattern in your relationship gives you the opportunity that your negative thoughts and emotions sometimes serve a purpose on what we can learn from them and what we would like to change to live a happier and healthier life.

Cultivating positive emotions and allowing that feeling to flow through your relationship is a great way to go through life with the one you love.

Taking Care Of Yourself First

Taking care of ourselves before others often sounds selfish, as if we are not as vested in our relationships, rather only in ourselves. However, taking care of yourself first is a crucial step in actually being more vested in your relationships.  When we tend to our own needs, we are able to be more focused on helping others and tending to what they need help with.  Just like the airplane safety videos, demonstrating that applying your own oxygen mask before helping your child or neighbor is important, life is much like this.  If you cannot breathe properly, there is no way that you will be able to successfully help someone else breathe.  If we do not take care of ourselves first, we are likely to be little help to others or our relationships.

We have so many things to tend to daily – from our demanding work schedules, our partner’s schedule and needs, and our children’s school and activities – it’s a miracle we get anything done!  Tending to yourself first benefits all of your relationships and your daily tasks.  Taking good care of yourself provides the foundation upon which everything else builds.

Taking care of our needs prior to others relates to self-compassion.  Self-compassion is when you are aware and honest, with a willingness to be non-judgemental, towards yourself. Tending to your own needs first is a great way to practice self-compassion.  Just like having compassion for yourself helps you to bring compassion to others and your relationships, taking care of yourself prior to others also helps bring care and attentiveness to your partner, children and other relationships.

Self-care is about replenishing ourselves so that we can have enough energy, creativity, love, and joy to spread to others.  By taking care of ourselves first, it allows for us to be the best we can be for our partners, children, friends, co-workers, and community.

Ways To Take Care Of Yourself

Nourishment – Your body works best when it is strong.  When life presents challenges, keeping yourself in physical and emotional well-being is of utmost importance.  This means eating plenty of fresh whole foods, staying hydrated, being physically active, and getting adequate rest.

Relaxation – Often times we view spa visits as a luxury and not necessary.  However, carving out the time to treat yourself to a dedicated method of relaxation – whether it is a massage, facial or even a quick visit to a sauna or a swim – is a great way to take care of yourself and replenish your energy so that you can carry on with your tasks and helping your loved ones.

Meditation –  An effective way to nourish your well-being, meditation helps to reduce the stress in your life and gives you the ability to handle the day with a calm, refreshed attitude. While increasing your energy levels, meditation essentially helps you to connect with your authentic self.  Meditation is simple minded practice, meaning you do not have to do much to participate in it, yet the benefits can affect your entire life in amazing ways, including making it easier for you to be there for others.

After taking time to explore the ways that work best for you to tend to yourself first, you will likely see that you are able to tend to your partner and children’s needs more effectively.

Family Communication

Regardless of how much everyone loves one another, most families will experience problems at one time or another. Learning to communicate openly and honestly can help build relationships that will withstand these challenges that families face.  When you calmly communicate how you feel with your loved ones, you create an atmosphere that encourages and allows them to respond and share how they feel.

To practice building awareness of the many ways – both verbal and non-verbal – that you communicate with those you care about, begin to pay attention to how well you actively listen and also hone in on what your non-verbal communication is divulging.

Active Listening – Active listening is allowing the listener to be involved with the speaker.  It is to better understand what is being said and gives us the opportunity to be fully present for the speaker.  Listen silently with full attention on what the other person is saying by establishing eye contact, nodding and using encouraging phrases.  Also take the time and consideration to really acknowledge the speaker’s thoughts and feelings.

Nonverbal Communication – Communication experts estimate that 90 percent of our messages is not what we say, but rather how we say it.  Our body language carries the credibility of the messages we send and will either reinforce or contradict our words.  Often times, when we are not talking is when we are saying the most.  Use eye contact to establish a connection and keep your body posture open and accepting rather than closed and defensive (i.e. – arms crossed over your chest).  You may want to do a nod of “uh-huh” to show that you are actively participating in listening to what your loved one is communicating.

The people in your family are likely you most loved ones in your life.  It is important to show affection and appreciation during the sometimes difficult moments we have as families.  Like the old saying “it is not what you say, but rather what you do,” take the opportunity to show and participate in affection.

Affection – Each member of the family has a need for love and affection.  Each person also has the responsibility to show love and affection to other people in the family.  The way you show love can be different for the different people in your family. What one child feels is loving might be felt as bothersome by a different child.  Each person’s individual needs should be respected and thoughtfully tended to.

Appreciation – Begin to recognize and appreciate the contributions of everyone in the family, together and individually.  It is amazing to start to see the small things that really help make the family whole and complete.  Take time to show your family members how much you appreciate them and how much they matter to you.  Ways of showing appreciation may vary from child to child and partner, so add some extra time and care into what you think each member of your family may enjoy as a form of appreciation.  Remember there is never such a thing as too many hugs!

Our relationships with others are what enrich our lives, especially the ones who we call family members.  If we are able to communicate with our families openly and honestly, it will only improve the quality of our lives and strengthen the bond our families.

Why Equality in a Relationship is Essential

Equality in a relationship or marriage is not always easy, but it is definitely essential. The traditional balance in the home is shifting as more women are seeking professional careers outside of the home. Fortunately, most modern men are willing to pick up the slack around the house. They are glad to help and they are capable of handling a larger portion of the family responsibilities than their own father would have been able to do. This shift in household duties is a big step towards equality, but it has created some unique challenges for newly married couples.

Women are Their Own Worst Enemies

When couples first move in together, most women will willingly take on the majority of the shared duties and they will care for their man without any complaint. They never ask for help and are grateful for anything their husband chooses to do on their own. They will do everything necessary for the first few years and then suddenly crash. Eventually the stress of managing a full-time job, plus having to get all the groceries, cook all the meals, wash every dish, do the laundry, dust, and vacuum will become too much to handle and things will start to go wrong.

She will immediately blame her partner even though she never asked him for help in the first place and he’ll have no idea why he has upset his wife so much. He’ll also be so unfamiliar with the routine and cleaning schedule that it will only further infuriate her when he tries to help out and he doesn’t do it properly. This is a common recipe for disaster that affects many new marriages.

How to Establish Equality Early On

It is important to discuss and divide household chores as soon as you move in together, whether you are married or not. If the woman in the relationship handles all of the cooking and cleaning in the beginning, it is harder to get a man to participate in those chores in the future. Each person in the relationship should make a list of things they don’t mind doing and then compare. You may need to compromise on some things, just make sure to divide them as evenly as possible.

How to Create Financial Equality

Couples that establish equality with household chores should also fairly divide the shared expenses. Make sure to divide the bills based on each person’s income, so neither is paying more than they can really afford.

How to Maintain Equality after Children

Daily duties drastically increase after you have children, so it’s important to once again establish responsibilities. Instead of dividing up the tasks, try sharing them since most responsibilities regarding parenting are also bonding opportunities. Use the tag-team approach and take turns getting up during the night, feeding the baby, and changing diapers.

Equality is essential for your future happiness and it is important to establish it early on. Talk to your partner as soon as you move in together and set up rules for managing the shared responsibilities and expenses. Communication and honesty in the beginning will help ensure that you have a long and happy marriage.

Intimacy in Relationships

The word intimacy, depending on who you are as well as your gender, could mean something totally different. The real question is “what does intimacy mean to you?”

Some people may answer that question with:

  • It’s holding hands and kisses for no reason.
  • It’s hanging out and doing stuff together.
  • It’s the look we give one another from across the room.
  • It’s the way we hold one another when we’re together.

Almost every person wants to feel deeply connected to another person on a deep level. They all want the amazing relationship that is built on trust, respect, mutual admiration for one another, and yes, intimacy.

Women, on many levels, have a more emotional connection to the person in their lives. It’s part of their makeup, their DNA. Women tend to love the soft caresses, the little kisses, and the late night conversations while lying on the couch or in bed. Most men, on the other hand, consider intimacy as the moments of playing together, planning a hiking trip together, and the occasional hug. Men and women alike can see intimacy differently. It is not as if the men and women who are not really intimate mean to be. It is just that their definition of what intimacy is may be different than yours.

Intimacy is about building up the relationship and establishing a connection with one another. When looking to build up the intimacy in your relationship, consider the following:

  • Take time to do something simple, yet meaningful, such as drawing your partner a hot bath after a long day.
  • Take a walk together, holding hands and talking about each other’s day.
  • Give each other a massage after a long day.
  • Plan a weekend getaway.
  • Cook a romantic dinner for two.

In order to build an intimate relationship you need to remember that communication is the foundation. Being open with one another is important. It’s also about getting in a comfort zone to where you feel free enough to express your opinions and beliefs. There is something about feeling validated that brings you closer together.

Intimacy in a relationship doesn’t always happen right away. As with anything, it takes time and has to be nurtured. You also have to separate sex from intimacy. Having sex and being intimate are two totally separate things. Can intimacy be intertwined in sex? Yes, but it is still a separate thing from sex.

Too often people associate intimacy with sex and that is what it quickly becomes linked with. You have to know that there can be intimacy outside of the bedroom, and it’s that level of intimacy that keeps the home fires burning.

When you take the time to make even the smallest moments a chance to get closer to your partner, then you will see that the level of intimacy within the relationship will increase. After all, everyone wants to feel needed and wanted. We all want to feel desired. So, take the time to validate your partners’ wants and needs, and intimacy will be something that you naturally have within your relationship.

Save

Cultivating Communication Skills in your Relationships

It is very likely that you and your partner have many similarities along with many differences. Your similarities are what brought you together in the first place.  As far as differences, you both grew up in different households with different rules, expectations, and experiences.  Along with these things, it is also likely that you grew up learning different communication skills.  It is important to get on the same page with your partner with communication, as it will make a world of difference in your relationship, for all stages of the relationship.

Here are some tips to help improve communication in your relationship.

Speak Your Truth – Talking through any problems you may be having is critical to long-term success in a partnership.  It is common for woman to silence their emotions and for men to lash out, however, it is also possible for these roles to be reversed.  If you are able to get into a pattern where you can both discuss your feelings – calmly and rationally, as they happen in the present moment verses letting them sit and fester, only to be dealt with later when a whole other issue may be boiling as well – you will likely avoid some of the upset and begin to live a more harmonious life.  Try to keep things light by using humor and smiling – which will release feel-good chemicals in the brain.

Tune In – Listening without thinking about how you are going to respond is a great practice to improve your communication skills, and not only with your partner, but with any relationship you have (family, friends, co-workers).  Repeating and paraphrasing what your partner has said before you respond is key to effective communication in your relationship.  Speak up on what you need and encourage your partner to do so as well.  You will likely be better equipped to meet each others’ needs if you are both able to really tune into one another and then apply what has been said and agreed upon to your relationship.

Focus On The Positive – One of the differences between the relationships that succeed and the relationships that fail is the ability to express positive feelings.  If you have a negative communication style that consists mostly of accusations and upset, begin to replace your negative words with more positive ones.

Touch – Things such as a playful touch, a knowing gaze, or a gentle smile, are all simple ways that can accomplish more communication than words can at times.  Very few people can come up to you and kiss you or place their hand in yours – a playful little touch like that can be very soothing.  It is a physical connection to one another.

How well you both are able to communicate to one another will factor in how smoothly other things in your relationship run.  Remember that clear and focused communication is a skill and it takes practice and time to cultivate it into your relationship.

Save