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11 Tips That Help Couples Keep Growing In A Relationship

11 Tips That Help Couples Keep Growing In A Relationship

My wife and I turned the flame of our burgeoning relationship into a raging blaze on an epic three and a half month, 8,000 mile motorcycle trip. The result, over 17 years of marriage and eight kids! It’s been a magical journey, but nothing about it has been easy. It has taken work and more than a few difficult days to make life a joyful adventure.

I wanted to share a few of the lessons we have learned on keeping a relationship growing, more often than not, the hard way. We’ve thrown things, we’ve yelled, we’ve wanted to quit, we’ve wallowed in the distance of anger, yet we’ve persevered and learned to grow a relationship that is as deep as it is wide.

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Here are ten thoughts on growing in a relationship:

  1. You don’t have to settle. You can grow your relationship and make it something that continually enhances your life. A good relationship is like anything you love, you must be committed to learning, to growing, and always looking to improve. When you feel like you’ve settled, you need to act, or else that settling becomes a chasm of stagnation or worse.
  2. Arguing is good. Many studies show that couples who argue have healthier relationships. It took a while to learn this in our relationship. For so long I saw arguments as a failure, but the truth is that they are necessary components of a healthy relationship. To argue well, i.e. when the sparks are done flying you can actually talk, means you must respect each other and the relationship enough to fight for it.
  3. Say you are sorry, and own it. When an argument goes bad, just walk away. Then when you can own your part in the debacle, return and say you are sorry. Expect nothing in return. This kind of unconditional response to adversity is a sure sign to your loved one that your relationship is more than skin deep.
  4. Make time to talk about your relationship. Schedule time where you give each other an opportunity to talk about the relationship without judgement or animosity. And by “talk about your relationship”, I mean treat your relationship like a third person. Are we talking enough, are their unresolved issues, etc.
  5. Remind yourself often of why you fell in love in the first place. Look at old pictures, tell old stories, remember those first magnetic embers of love. We aren’t just who we are in this moment, we are a culmination of the past, the present, and the future. Use the victories and lessons of the past as fuel for future growth.
  6. Share small adventures. Our lives can get so busy we begin to forget about small pleasures. Go for walks, shopping together, coffee, whatever. When life has consumed us, even a short pleasure can seem like a walk on the beach.
  7. Spend time totally focused on your partner. Massage them until your fingers cramp up, listen and don’t talk, go with them on an errand they could do alone, write them a poem or love letter like you did when you were falling in love. Pray for them. Focusing on them will make the relationship stronger.
  8. Schedule space for each other. You need space to grow. A suffocating relationship kills growth. We need freedom in the safety of a commitment. A strong relationship is one that is conscious of this space. Here is some good insight into a fully conscious relationship from www.mindbodygreen.com.
  9. Keep track of your growth. Set goals for the relationship and keep track of them. Growing a relationship is like anything else of value, you need to plan, set goals, work, and review.
  10. A healthy relationship is two individuals working together. A healthy relationship is kind of like a trinity, two individuals create something deeper and better than themselves, yet they are still themselves. For a relationship to grow, you must also grow as an individual and not lose yourself. This can be really hard for mothers. They can get so caught up in work, husband, children, that they don’t know who they are anymore. Make sure you help her with that.

After 17 years of marriage, I can honestly say that the most exciting part of our relationship is what lies ahead. We made it through the incredibly hard process of learning to grow together and now the future seems filled with possibilities even as our kids grow and we age. Life is about living. Living is about growth. Any healthy relationship makes you better, it encourages you to grow, it is there for you when you stumble and falter.

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A relationship is hard work, but if you commit yourself to planting the seeds of growth, you will see something beautiful you could never imagine alone.

One more thing. As I was finishing up this article I asked my wife to take a look. She couldn’t believe I’d left out a key, monumentally important thought, so here is a bonus point for you all!

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11. Morning Sex! Like anything else, work on it, make it a priority, and it only gets better and grows! There is no better way to leave behind the night’s worries and start the day with a full head of steam!

Featured photo credit: Bruna + Rafael by danielmviero.com via creativecommons.org

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Last Updated on June 24, 2019

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

A study [1] published in Depression and Anxiety found that social media users are more likely to be depressed. This was just one of the huge number of studies linking social media and depression[2] . But why exactly do platforms like Facebook and Instagram make people so unhappy? Well, we don’t know yet for sure, but there are some explanations.

Social Media Could Lead to Depression

Depression is a serious medical condition that affects how you think, feel, and behave. Social media may lead to depression in predisposed individuals or make existing symptoms of depression[3] worse explains[4] the study above’s senior author Dr. Brian Primack. So, the problem may not be in social media per se, but how we use it.

Signs You’re Suffering From “Social Media Depression”

If you feel like social media is having a negative impact on your mood, then you may be suffering from “social media depression.” Look for symptoms like:

• low self-esteem,

• negative self-talk,

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• a low mood,

• irritability,

• a lack of interest in activities once enjoyed,

• and social withdrawal.

If you’ve had these symptoms for more than two weeks and if this is how you feel most of the time, then you are likely depressed. Although “social media depression “is not a term recognized in the medical setting, social media depression seems to be a real phenomenon affecting around 50% of social media users. As explained in a review study[5] published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, if a person has a certain predisposition to depression and other mental disorders, social media use may only worsen their mental health.

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Social Media Could Crush Self-Esteem

We know that social media and depression are in some way linked, but why is this so? Well, according to Igor Pantic, MD, Ph.D.[6], social media use skews your perception about other people’s lives and traits. To explain this further, most people like to portray an idealized image of their lives, personal traits, and appearance on sites like Facebook and Instagram. If you confuse this idealized image with reality, you may be under the false impression that everyone is better than you which can crush your self-esteem and lead to depression. This is especially true for teens and young adults who are more likely to compare themselves to others. If you already suffer from low self-esteem, the illusion that everyone has it better off than you will just make you feel worse.

Causing Social Isolation and Other Negative Emotions

Another commonly cited reason for the negative impact of social media on mental health is its link with social isolation. Depressed people are more likely to isolate themselves socially and chose only to interact indirectly through social media platforms. But communication online tends to be superficial and is lacking when compared to real-life interaction explains Panic. What this means is not that social media leads to isolation but the other way around, possibly explaining why we find so many depressed persons on these sites.

Lastly, social media use may generate negative emotions in you like envy, jealousy, dislike, loneliness, and many others and this may worsen your depressive symptoms.

Why We Need to Take This Seriously

Both depression and social media use are on the rise according to epidemiological studies. Since each one has an impact on the other, we have to start thinking of healthier ways to use social media. Teens and young adults are especially vulnerable to the negative impact of social media on mental health.

Advice on Social Media Use

Although these findings did not provide any cause-effect explanation regarding Facebook and depression[7], they still do prove that social media use may not be a good way to handle depression. For this reason, the leading authors of these studies gave some suggestions as to how clinicians and people can make use of such findings.

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One suggestion is that clinicians should ask patients about their social media habits. Then they can advise them on how to change their outlook on social media use or even suggest limiting their time spent on social media.

Some social media users may also exhibit addictive behavior; they may spend too much time due to compulsive urges. Any compulsive behavior is bound to lead to feelings of guilt which can worsen depressive symptoms.

Having Unhealthy Relationship with Social Media

If you feel like your relationship with social media is unhealthy, then consider the advice on healthy social media use provided by psychology experts from Links Psychology[8]:

Avoid negative social comparison – always keep in mind that how people portray themselves and their lives on social media is not a realistic picture, but rather an idealized one. Also, avoid comparing yourself to others because this behavior can lead to negative self-talk.

Remember that social media is not a replacement for real life – Social media is great for staying in touch and having fun, but it should never replace real-world interactions.

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Avoid releasing personal information – For your safety and privacy, make sure to be careful with what you post online.

Report users who bully and harass you – It’s easy to be a bully in the anonymous and distant world of social media. Don’t take such offense personally and report those who abuse social media to harass others.

The bits of advice listed above can help you establish a healthy relationship with social media. Always keep these things in mind to avoid losing an objective perspective of what social media is and how it is different from real life. If you are currently suffering from depression, talk to your doctor about what is bothering you so that you can get the treatment you need to get better. Tell your doctor about your social media use and see if they could give you some advice on this topic.

Reference

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