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5 Keys To A Better Love Life

5 Keys To A Better Love Life

    I recently asked 5 of the most successful couples I know for their best advice on how to create a fantastic love life. They laughed at first. They thought I was asking about sex. I assured them I wasn’t. I wanted to know what they’d done to keep their love alive for 100+ combined years of life together.

    What came next surprised, inspired, and frustrated me all at once. These ideas were so simple, so straightforward. Why weren’t more couples putting them to use in their own relationships? Richard, happily “living in sin” with Debbie for 39 years, said it best. “Most people just don’t seem to care enough to put a bit of effort into their relationship every day.”

    If you really do care then you’ll have what it takes to put the following concepts to use and reap the benefits. In spite of all the complexity that love serves up, these keys will make short work of adding joy to your relationship.

    1. Ask For Praise

    Expecting your partner to notice things without prompting is often very unfair and can lead to resentment. Keep the beast away by speaking up and bringing attention to things you’d like your partner to notice. If you’ve done something you’d like your partner to take notice of, say something! Got your hair did? Say something! Fixed the dining room table so it doesn’t teeter? Say something!

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    You did this instinctively when you were a child. Remember running up to a parent or guardian and asking them to look at a picture you’d colored or cape you’d made out of an expensive tablecloth? For most of us, the response was one of amazement (if a bit contrived) and vocal appreciation for our obvious talents.

    You’re not so very different now. You still love to be praised when you’ve done well. Even if it’s something you should have done earlier in the week or missed a detail on. How to get that praise? Ask for it and agree to give it when your partner asks you for some appreciation. You know not to crush a child’s spirit by ignoring their efforts to impress you. Are you as smart about your partner?

    2. In Everything, Give Thanks

    Say “Thank You” and make an effort to regularly demonstrate your genuine gratefulness for all your partner does for you. There are going to be times when this will seem an impossible chore. Perhaps you’ll be furious with your partner over something or other and they’ll point out something they did, hoping for praise. How will you respond? Will you offer your praise and thanks then deal with your anger separately? Or will you close up like a shell and torture your partner with inconsolable silence?

    You care about making your relationship work so I expect you’ll swallow your momentary pride and say thank you. After all, your partner deserves at least the same courtesy you’d give to a complete stranger. When you cannot be gracious, be polite. Make a habit of offering thanks to your partner, even for the tiniest of things, and a sapling of thankfulness will grow into something strong enough to support you both.

    3. Schedule Time For Each Other

    If you were worried about killing spontaneous romance by scheduling time with your partner,  you wouldn’t be reading this. For the rest of us with busy lives and hectic schedules, an exhausting Wednesday is easier to handle knowing that Thursday at 6pm we get a few hours with our best friend.

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    All that’s left is to actually be present with your partner during the focused time you have together. This, according to all voices heard in my less-than-scientific survey, is one of the hardest parts of any long-term relationship.

    Dinner with kids at the table doesn’t count as real presence. Sitting on the couch while you both have laptops running in front of you doesn’t count either. In fact, most of the things we do as couples fall into the realm of proximity instead of true presence. A simple test (thanks, Debbie!) is to see if you need to get your partner’s attention before talking for them to hear what you say. If you do, they weren’t really there to begin with.

    You’ll be tempted to use your regular time together as the time for you to angrily vent and argue. Don’t do it! This is your time to catch up with the person you love. If you can’t think of something wondrous and warm to say, chew on silence and just be. There’s something about focused presence with a loved one that helps troubles sink away just a bit. Make the most of your time together!

    4. Agree On How To Argue

    Sometime when you’re not even a little angry with each other, sit down and talk about how you fight. Then lay down some rules you both agree to follow during future arguments.

    Mary, a 74 year-old mother of four and widow of two shared three of her rules:

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    • Nobody leaves during an argument without saying where they’re going.
    • Arguments that last longer than 3 days are obviously stupid and will not be allowed to continue.
    • An argument will never mean that the relationship itself is in question.

    Mary’s final rule resonated with me because that’s something I work very hard to do in my own relationships. One of the most difficult but smartest things to say during an argument is, “I love you but I’m so pissed at you about/for/because [insert argument here].” Keeping the argument separate from the relationship status is key to getting things back on track. You could call it a shortcut through very dark woods.

    5. Say You’re Sorry Every Day

    Apologizing is a lot like learning a foreign language. The more you practice it in real-life situations, the better you become at it.

    If you don’t do something worth saying sorry for every day, you’re either an angel or completely blind to your own inadequacy. You need not commit some great damage against your partner before saying you’re sorry. Just be yourself. In the course of being yourself you’ll say something without thinking, forget to pick up something from the store, or complain about your day without asking about your partner’s. You’re a master at making mistakes! =)

    The more you ask for forgiveness, the easier it will be to admit to and gain forgiveness for all the things you do that might drive your partner away if not taken care of. Its never easy to swallow your pride and admit to screwing something up. But you need to do this and make a habit of it if you want to make your relationship the best it can possibly be.


      There were many more tidbits and some hysterical stories shared but those 5 tips ranked highest on the list of useful bits of advice.

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      Feedback Time!

      What do you have to say? Is there something you’ve found works really well for you and your partner? I’d appreciate your input!

      If 100 people go home from work today and communicate better with their partner because of reading this, we’ll have changed part of the world with just one article! Thanks for sharing it!

      Image: source, source

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      The Gentle Art of Saying No

      The Gentle Art of Saying No

      No!

      It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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      But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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      What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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      But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

      1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
      2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
      3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
      4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
      5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
      6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
      7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
      8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
      9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
      10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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