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4 Changes to Improve Your Relationship and be Happier Together

4 Changes to Improve Your Relationship and be Happier Together

Want to be happier with your significant other? Improve your relationship and feel more connected with your spouse when you make these 4 changes to improve your relationship.

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love is that condition in which the happiness

    Grow together as a couple

    Often, after a couple has been together for a while they don’t make as much time to grow together. We grow in our business life, or as a parent, or in the areas of our individual interests, but what are you doing together to grow? If you only grow individually and aren’t sharing some of these experiences together you will probably find yourselves growing apart. There won’t be as much to talk about, and you’ll have a more difficult time understanding where your significant other’s point of view is coming from.

    Not sure how to “grow together”? Consider a few of these ideas:

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    • Take a class together, such as painting, home repair, cooking, or music. The possibilities are endless.
    • Experience new things together: you might want to attend a lecture and then discuss your thoughts and ideas on the presentation, or take up a shared physical activity like salsa dancing, hiking, or fishing.
    • Build something together.
    • Design your dream house on the computer.

    Create habits as a couple where you show your love to each other

    Here are three simple habits you can create with your significant other to improve your relationship by showing and sharing your love in small ways throughout the day.

    • Kiss each other in the morning. Have a ritual in which whoever leaves the bedroom first gives the other a kiss. This way if you don’t get a chance to see each other again before one of you leaves for work, you’ve shown appreciation and love for each other.
    • Cuddle up together. When you sit down to watch a movie or TV show together, sit together on the couch and hold hands or touch for a while. You don’t have to stay this way the entire time, but show your partner that you want to be near them and touch them.
    • Kiss the cook. Whoever makes dinner receives a kiss before dinner, which shows appreciation for their effort. Make it a point to express your gratitude for the meal as well.

    Eliminate distractions when you are together

    If I’m talking to someone and they are checking their phone or on the computer it doesn’t feel like they are listening. When you are with your significant other, put the gadgets away. Have a strict rule during dinner that you don’t answer the phone or the doorbell, or check text messages. Focus on each other.

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    If you have a lot of distractions at home—possibly from your children—schedule time away together regularly when it will just be the two of you and you can focus on each other. Try to leave talk of work and your kids behind and focus on the hobbies and interests you share together. Need more ideas for when you are out together on a <gasp> date with your significant other? Find some here.

    Laugh together more

    I bet you have a lot of funny moments and inside jokes with your partner, so be sure to bring those up and laugh together more often. If you have a cute name for your spouse, use it (but not too often). What were the funny moments that occurred while you were first dating, when you got married or when your children were born? Remembering and laughing about these times together strengthens your bond and make you feel happier.

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    Last year my husband discovered the song “It’s Business Time” by Flight of the Conchords. Lyrics from this song have become a running joke that brings a smile to both our faces. We also love Jonathan Coulton’s “Shopvac” for its funny take on suburban angst.  These songs are also great for reminding us what we don’t want our lives to turn into.

    Find some music, videos or shows that you can both laugh at together and  reference them to bring in more laughter.

    Looking for more keys to a successful relationship? Find 10 here.

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    Last Updated on January 14, 2021

    How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake

    How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake

    Despite our best intentions and efforts, making mistakes is a fact of life. Humans are prone to error, so we are inevitably going to mess up at one point or another.

    Many of the slip ups we make won’t have any impact on those around us, but what about the times when they do hurt someone else, either inadvertently or purposefully? Do we ignore the mistake and hope it will go away on its own? Do we confront the mistake, however painful that may be, and apologize? How we react to our mistakes defines both who we are and how we are perceived by others.

    I’m a voice and presence coach specializing in training people to find their voice and speak their truth. One of the most difficult tasks I teach my students is how to apologize authentically. It takes a lot of vulnerability to admit wrongdoing, and even more so to seek forgiveness and make amends. (After all, we live in a world where some of our top leaders openly avoid taking accountability for their mistakes.) However, like anything else in life, if you ignore something painful instead of facing it, that pain tends to grow and appear in other parts of your life. It’s better to face these things head on.

    So how do you apologize effectively? Technically, there is no one “right” way, but there are plenty of ineffective ways to go about apologizing. I’m going to approach this from the perspective that we are genuinely remorseful and wish to make amends for the hurt we have caused.

    Simply saying, “I’m sorry” is easy. But it’s important that your words match your intention. It’s complex to apologize authentically when you have made a mistake – to utter remorse that is grounded in your truth, and it’s what we’re going to cover here.

    In order to make a genuine apology, I refer to a practice introduced to me by a mentor several years ago: the Hawaiian Ho’oponopono prayer. I’m not an expert on Hawaiian prayer, but having meditated with this one for a number of years, I can say that this practice of reconciliation and forgiveness is incredibly powerful.

    Ho’oponopono means “to make right” or “rectify an error.” What sets this practice apart is that the focus is not on controlling a particular outcome (i.e. healing the hurt relationship you have with this person), but instead on healing yourself in order to heal the situation.

    The Ho’oponopono prayer is profoundly simple, and translates as follows:

    I’m sorry.

    Please forgive me.

    Thank you.

    I love you.

    Everything we need to apologize is right here. Let’s break down the structure of this apology into these 4 concrete steps for before, during, and after the apology.

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    Before the Apology

    Step 1: I’m Sorry – What are you sorry for?

    Before you start speaking and leading from pure emotion, it’s important to actually figure out what you are sorry for:

    Start by Writing Down the Facts

    When you’re writing this out, avoid assigning any judgments to the scenario or making any assumptions about the person affected by your mistake. Instead stick to straight facts. Dump the whole situation onto the page, including all the details.

    Ex. My friend was having a hard time with her boyfriend. She kept complaining to me about it, and I was tired of listening to the situation. I also felt I knew exactly what was going on, and what was not working, so I finally got blunt and told her my opinion. She was very offended. I realized afterward that she just needed an ear to listen, and she wasn’t looking for my advice.

    Write Down Your Part in Making This Mistake

    Stick to your contribution only. Avoid speaking for anyone else, simply focus on what you did that you know helped create the situation.

    Ex. I gave feedback that my friend wasn’t interested in hearing. My mistake was assuming that she’d be better off if she heard what I had to say.

    After Writing It All Down, Ask Yourself How You’re Feeling by Grounding Yourself in Your Truth

    I teach a process to my clients called the Voice Body Connection process, which starts with grounding yourself in your physical sensations. This process will help you find your voice and speak your truth objectively, even if you are flooded with strong emotions in the moment.

    Identify the Physical Sensations You Feel

    Now that you have relived the experience of making the mistake by writing it out, tune into your body, and ask yourself the question:

    “What is the strongest SENSATION I feel in my body right now?”

    Be sure to keep this body-based. When you are preparing to apologize, taking note of your sensations helps you ground yourself in how you are feeling so that you can show up.

    Ex. I feel an aching sensation in my heart.

    Identify Why You Think You Are Feeling This Sensation

    After you’ve identified your primary sensations, ask yourself the following question:

    “What do I think is the STIMULUS that led me to feel this sensation?”

    This is likely a very simple statement that you already wrote about. It’s the heart of the matter.

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    Ex. I gave my friend advice she wasn’t asking for.

    Identify Your Emotions About This Situation

    Now that you know why you are feeling these physical sensations, move to identify your emotions. Ask yourself:

    “What are my EMOTIONS about noticing all of this?”

    Some primary emotions are fear, anger, sadness, disgust, joy, and arousal.

    Ex. I’m feeling sad that I crossed my friend’s boundaries.

    Identify Your Ideal Outcome For This Situation

    Your emotions are tied to your desire for a future outcome. Ask yourself,

    “Do I have any desires related to everything I just noticed?”

    Examples of core desires are safety, comfort, bonding/love, and curiosity/growth.

    Ex. I want to repair the relationship so that we can be close again.

    Make Sure You Actually Want Forgiveness And Reconnection

    Please keep in mind that if in this process, you discover that you don’t feel safe with this other person. There’s no reason to apologize and re-connect.

    But if you feel safe and comfortable with them and desire to be connected again, then you can proceed to the next step of the Ho’oponopono prayer.

    During the Apology

    Step 2: Please Forgive Me

    You’re not going to share everything from your process above with your friend. What you are going to share is your acknowledgment of the hurt you caused, your part in creating that situation, and your desire to reconnect[1].

    It’s also very important to be clear about only speaking your truth and not commenting on their side. That’s their job.

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    You can use this script by filling in the observations you noted above:

    I think <a simple statement about what happened> happened between us…

    And I believe my mistake was <insert your part here>…

    I am left feeling <insert your emotions>…

    and moving forward, I would want to <insert your desires>.

    Ex. I think I gave you feedback that you weren’t interested in hearing…

    And I believe my mistake was assuming that you’d be better off if you heard what I felt I needed to say.

    I am left feeling sad that I crossed your boundaries.

    And moving forward what I really want is to be close to you again, and to assure you that I will ask permission in the future before I give you advice.

    Once you’ve shared this introductory olive branch, stop talking about yourself. This is it for now…. it’s all you needed to say to get the conversation started.

    Your next job is to listen and be curious. Ask open-ended questions about their experience like “How did that feel for you?”. De-center yourself and let your friend share as much as they need to. When you do speak, let them know that you hear what they are saying, and acknowledge your impact.

    I’ll grant you that this is hard to do – it’s easy to get defensive. But your checklist is:

    • Tell them you heard them
    • Let them know you understand you had an impact on them
    • Ask them more about their experience

    Step 3: Thank You

    Now that you have asked the other person about their experience, it is quite possible that they will say things you don’t want to hear. You may find yourself feeling defensive or even angry. A stressful situation like this can trigger “fight or flight” mode in your body: you may notice that you start sweating, that your pupils are narrowing, that your eyes tear up, that you start experiencing tunnel vision. This is all normal.

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    To help stave this off and stay present, keep being genuinely curious about what their experience has been. Don’t listen to be “right,” listen to be connected. Listen to understand.

    Even if they say something you don’t like hearing, thank them anyway for sharing the truth of their experience and for being in your life. This isn’t an easy thing to do, but it is a necessary step towards your own healing in the Ho’oponopono prayer.

    Moving Forward Post-Apology

    Step 4: I Love You

    Let’s say you’re actually at a place where the relationship you have with the other person can be repaired. “I love you” encourages curiosity: how can you repair and reconnect? How can things look different moving forward?

    Think of something you can do to express and experience your love, appreciation, or respect for each other. Make a plan for how to move forward.

    A great practice is to make a list of things you are grateful for about the other person. Be sure to share this list, either as a letter or just out loud. It’s important to share how much we appreciate each other, and it feels as good to give gratitude as it does to receive it.

    This last portion of the prayer is not just for the other person… it’s for you as well. Filling yourself with a sense of love ensures that you’ll be able to move on from the mistake and heal. It’s easy for many of us to beat ourselves up and continue to hold onto guilt, or even shame, about a mistake we have made — even though we are genuinely remorseful and have tried to make amends.

    You can continue to repeat the entire Ho’oponopono prayer to yourself after the encounter where you have apologized:

    I’m sorry.
    Please forgive me.

    Thank you.

    I love you.

    In doing so, you may find you’re apologizing to yourself too.

    The Bottom Line

    To speak our truth in an apology, we must show up fully without expecting anything of the other person. Though we cannot affect or control the outcome of the apology, no matter how repentant we are, following the Ho’oponopono can guide us to true repair and healing.

    If you have been stuck on finding the “right” way to reconnect and apologize to someone in your life, I hope this process inspired by the Ho’oponopono prayer will help you to make that first step.

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    Featured photo credit: Gus Moretta via unsplash.com

    Reference

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