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10 Secret Tools Happy Couples Use For A Strong Relationship

10 Secret Tools Happy Couples Use For A Strong Relationship

Have you seen that photo? The one with a picture of an elderly couple hand in hand?

I have seen variations on that same photo many times and when I was younger, I wondered if I would be one of those people still walking hand in hand with my husband long after the sound of wedding bells had faded.

Well, here we are 25 years later and our marriage is still going strong. I have to think that we have passed most of the major milestones in a marriage that is supposed to last until death do us part, and I have some secret tools to share with you.

There are certain things that keep a marriage together and things that tear it apart. You have seen many marriages end in divorce. You don’t have to be afraid that that will happen to you. You and your spouse may have rough times but if you both want to keep it together, you will.

For now here are some of the best kept secret tools that happy couples use to keep their unions strong.

1. They really get to know each other every day of their lives.

People change and they change every day. Our experiences change our views and our views change our behavior. Many people are in a relationship with the person they knew years ago. They don’t see that the person has changed. Sometime later, they look up and realize that they don’t know this person any more. This happens over time but sometimes it takes years to realize it. Sometimes that realization comes too late.

Couples who want to ensure that their marriage endures must look at each other anew on a daily basis and get to know that new person. Look at his or her life and try to see it through their eyes. This can give you a little more understanding of what is going through the other person’s mind when they do the things that they do.

Where there is more understanding, there are less reasons to get upset. Being able to fully understand someone is a valuable tool in any relationship.

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2. They are realistic and understand that people make mistakes.

Life can be very difficult at times and it can be confusing. If you are not paying attention, you can make a mistake that could easily tear apart your marriage and your lives. Even the most aware person can fall into social traps and hurt someone they love.

A friend of mine recently came to me asking for advice about whether she should divorce her husband. He had made a very bad mistake. It was a huge betrayal to my friend and her family. It was tough because she really loved this man.

After listening to her and seeing how her husband was completely beside himself with guilt and upset for what he had done, I advised her that it was her decision but in my opinion that if she did forgive him, the rewards could be great. She also knew that if she did forgive him, he would have to make amends to his family which he did willingly. Their marriage was saved.

It took some time and my friend had to work through a lot of hurt feelings and pain before she could feel normal again. But they both worked to restore their trust, their relationship and it worked. She and her husband are still together and their kids did not have to experience the horrible nightmare of having their parents divorce.

With the above in mind, understand that there are people who refuse to own up to mistakes and therefore repeat hurtful behavior. If you are married to someone like this please take a close look at your situation and see if it is destructive to you.

3.They never, ever cheat on their spouses.

If you want to torpedo your marriage and destroy your spouse, go ahead and cheat. In a previous marriage I had this happen to me and I can tell you that it is the most devastating thing you could ever do to another human being. It is akin to plunging a knife in the heart of your best friend. Don’t do it.

If you refrain out of love and respect for your spouse, great. If not, understand that love and relationships are very emotional for just about everyone. “Crimes of Passion” are not unusual when a person betrays his or her spouse.

4. They allow each other to disagree.

Even in the best marriage, you and your spouse may not agree on everything. Hopefully, you do agree on the important issues. If not, you do have to come to some agreement on them in order to continue.

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Understand that when you disagree with something, it is destructive to keep harping on it and trying to get the other to agree with you. It is best at that point to “agree to disagree” and allow your spouse to keep his or her viewpoint.

If you love each other, you already have many, many things in common. Take up points of agreement and leave the points of disagreement behind.

Additionally if you do have arguments or disagreements with your spouse, do not call each other names and say hurtful things. Those have an effect and the damage cannot be undone by saying you are sorry. These little courtesies should be set as rules if you want your relationship to last.

5. Point out the great things about their spouse.

I know after time, you may start to see only the things about your spouse that you feel need to change. Instead of seeing only those things, seek out the things he or she does that you love, and really make a big deal of it. You would be surprised at how they react. Everybody wants to be ensured that they are right way more than they are wrong. Give them that gift. This alone, done by both parties could completely rekindle a lost love.

Don’t forget that bragging about how great your spouse is to others is important as well. Some people may think it is boastful but it makes me really respect the person doing it. If they talk in glowing terms about their spouse, I can bet that they talk about others in glowing terms as well. This is the mark of a great person.

6. They listen to each other.

Disagreements are stressful for any marriage but they don’ t have to tear you apart. If your spouse is seriously upset, and it is something they’ve been trying to get you to handle. please handle it. Pick up your socks or balance your checkbook if it is an issue. Handle any repeating problem so that it doesn’t cause anymore resentment. Living together is tough and courtesy is  important.

Acknowledge that the person is upset. It can be as easy as saying “Wow! I can see that you are really upset about this!” Then listen to what they are trying to tell you. Don’t engage with them or make them feel wrong for being upset, listen and see if you can help them handle the problem. You would be amazed at how fast a situation or potential fight can be defused just by acknowledging their feelings and being willing to try and help the person handle it.

 

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7. They go out of their way to do nice things for each other.

It takes so little to make someone happy. Stopping by the store and getting his favorite ice cream or giving her a sweet card that says something nice is so appreciated and so easy.

Recently I had to take a sick leave for a surgery and was overwhelmed by the love I got from the kids in the music class that I teach. Their tokens of affection were things like pictures, homemade cards and things they learned to make in school.  My favorite was a rose that one of my students picked from his garden. He then took off all of the thorns for me. It must have taken time and care to get every last thorn but he did! Those types of gifts are priceless and strengthens your love for one another in your relationship.

8. They stay in communication.

One of the most important things you can do to keep any relationship strong is communication. Most often arguments start because there has been some form of miscommunication.  There are many decisions made on a daily basis and being married, some of them affect both you and your spouse. Whenever there is a decision like this, I text my husband and let him know. It can be simple decisions like what to have for dinner or the fact that you have a few extra minutes so you picked up the kids early. Communication is the back bone of a marriage and more communication is always better.

Having dinner together is a very important way to keep the communication strong in a family. If your schedules do not permit a dinner together, set time aside daily to come together and regroup. This is a vital time for the entire family.  Also realize that communication about unhappy things should be balanced out by communication of happy things.

Communication is the glue that holds families together.

9. They protect and stand up for each other.

Even the most perfect marriage with two very loving partners can be torn apart by open or underhanded attacks on one spouse to the other. A stereotypical example is the meddling relative who takes the husband aside and tears down his wife behind her back. It could also be coming from another person who has a romantic interest in one or the other spouse.

These are vicious attacks on the spouse, the marriage, and the family unit including the children. It destroys marriages and those who want to keep their families will recognize it for the assault that it is and put an end to the attacks immediately. I have known several people whose in-laws have mercilessly torn them down to their spouse and it has completely destroyed their marriage.

Attacks may not always be outright and overt. Most of the time they are barbed and critical comments delivered as a means to “help” or “educate” the person under attack. It undermines the validity and intelligence of the victim to those around him or her and erodes their self confidence and self respect. It is a cowardly and underhanded form of bullying. It takes courage to stand up to this type of abuse but if you don’t, you will lose your spouse and your self respect.

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10. They each live their own lives.

I am sure you have met someone who is needy. I remember girlfriends who would sit by the phone waiting for their boyfriend to call. They also felt incomplete or helpless without a man. These people put themselves in a very precarious situation. If your whole world is someone else and that person leaves, your world is gone.

I have never seen happy people in that type of situation. Sooner or later, the other person feels suffocated by the neediness of their partner and the relationship ends.  The strongest marriages I know are built on mutual respect and SPACE. Each partner having time with other friends or different interests is important.

I have always said that a person’s life is like a cake and the love relationship is like the frosting. Without the cake, the frosting has nothing on which to stand.

My advice to those who are unhappy and think that a man or woman will make them happy is to find happiness first and then find the man or woman of your dreams. In other words, make your cake first and then find your frosting. I believe that this is the only way it will work.

I have given you a lot to think abut here and I hope you read this article a few times over and start practicing using the tools. They are quite valuable and they make you a very valuable person to have around. Anyone who can handle personal relations is a very powerful person. Getting proficient with these tools can give you the power to chart the course of your marriage without relying on luck to see you through.

Go have a great life and create a great marriage and family!

Good luck!

Featured photo credit: Image of woman and man kissing each other outside via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

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Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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