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How To Maintain a Connected Relationship

How To Maintain a Connected Relationship

Maintaining a healthy, long-term relationship takes quite a bit of work. Contrary to popular belief, the process of getting to know one another and dating doesn’t end as the years progress. It takes work to maintain a connected relationship. In fact, the longer a relationship lasts, the more important it becomes to put work into staying connected. As the exhilaration of a new relationship wears off and routine sets in, extra effort is required. Here are a few ideas to help you foster that connection in relationships:

Listen actively

Make sure you are really paying attention to what your partner is trying to tell you. Even if you have no interest in fantasy football stats or spring hairdo woes, actively listening will make your partner feel like you care. If you listen and engage, your partner knows he or she is important to you.

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Break down barriers

You will learn new things about your partner for the duration of your relationship. Childhood memories will arise, traumas will unfold, and a shoulder to lean on will be needed. The key to being available for these situations is to stay vulnerable. To stay connected, make sure your partner knows it’s okay to show vulnerability. Continue to break down the barriers between you and your partner, and you will have a steadfast connection.

Set aside your to-do list

The list can wait. We are often so busy that we forget about the person that’s been supporting us all along. Drop your agenda or, better yet, put your relationship at the top of your agenda and leave it there. Set aside time for your partner, and keep your relationship a priority.

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Show affection

At home, in public, or wherever. Physical affection is one of the easiest ways to stay connected, and it doesn’t have to be over the top. Hold hands on your stroll from the grocery store to the car. Give his shoulders a gentle squeeze while he makes dinner. Simple gestures like these go a long way.

Check in with each other

Sometimes we are so busy that we inadvertently neglect our relationships. It’s important to check in with each other every so often. Ask your partner what he or she needs from you. Does she need your support? Does he need you to spend some more time with him? Sometimes, you don’t know until you ask.

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Date each other

Set up weekly dates, just like you did in the beginning. Go to the restaurant where you had your first date and sit at the same table. Recreate some of your favorite dates, or explore new places together. When you set up dates with each other, you have the chance to back away from the day-to-day grind and really spend time connecting with each other.

Consider his or her feelings

Sometimes we make decisions without considering how it will affect our partners. You might say yes to a night out with friends before asking if she wants to make plans together. Sometimes you might decide to make a large purchase without first consulting with your partner. No, you don’t need to ask your partner for permission for your every move, but do consider him when making decisions that could affect him.

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Be supportive of each other

Has your partner decided to eat healthy, or has he or she started a new job? Make sure he knows that he has your support. Maybe you don’t want to go on a clean-eating diet, but if your partner does, encourage him. Try not to tempt him with foods he shouldn’t eat, or diminish what he is doing for himself.

Practice acceptance

Acceptance is one of the keys to maintaining a connected relationship. We cannot change other people, and we cannot control them. If you have the ability to accept your significant other the way he or she is, you are bound for more happiness and less argument.

Stop having to have the last word

Speaking of arguments, it isn’t always necessary to have the last word. A fight can end as quickly as it begins if you choose to let go of being right. You can cultivate understanding and happiness in a relationship if you give up the need to have the last word, even if you think you’re right.

Featured photo credit: Holding Hands/Tim Parkinson via flickr.com

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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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