Are you a good partner?
Are you invested in your lover’s happiness, meaning, and promise for a happy life together?
Maybe you need a little polish to make the gems in your relationship shine. Yes, it does require a bit of elbow grease. But your rewards are mutual magic!
Time to shake, rattle and roll your love life. Here’s how you pony-up more partner positivity:
1. Explore Your Expectations. You Are Not Siamese Twins ~ Acknowledge Your Partner’s Unique Strengths.
No one has the perfect partner, but if you do, clone him and will make a mint! How realistic are your expectations? Of him/her as well as yourself?
First, you need to discover what is right about you, your values. Identify your strengths with the Values in Action Survey (VIA) no cost assessment at viame.org. See how your 24 strengths mesh with, as well as as compliment, your partner’s. Great fun. The top five strengths, or sometimes even top 10, are usually how you show up. Examples of strengths are teamwork, kindness, gratitude, forgiveness, ability to love, honesty, perspective, and hope. Your strengths profile will help you understand your partner, yourself, and how you interact. It empowers you to get clear on your expectations. My husband, Ken, and I have very different profiles, but our ability to love, to be kind and to forgive strengths often come to our rescue, especially when his logical side steps on my emotional style. But I tease, “Together we make one really good relationship!”
Ladies, there’s a good book to help you look at your expectations, “Women Who Love Too Much ~ When You Keep Wishing and Hoping He’ll Change”, by Robin Norwood. Dejection and chronic frustration are often reasons women cite as reasons their relationships bite the the dust. Instead of running away mad or becoming a screaming Mimi, cool down. Set a mutually satisfactory time to smoke your peace pipe without a gripe. Agree not to let problems fester. To be a friend to each other. Less emotional reactivity and lowered expectations. No mind-reading allowed. Tell it like it is. Nicely! Guys, please read any of relationship researcher king pin John Gottman’s books. Be there to listen and understand your lady. To offer love and reassurance even if you aren’t sure what to say or do. You do not need to be competent all the time for her to love you. Ladies, be patient with your gentleman.
2. Shine Your Light on the Little Things that Matter. Fire Up Fun with “Bait and Switch” Surprise Acts of Random Kindness.
Ever put post-it notes on his/her steering wheel? Small gestures that say “I’m thinking of you” are essential to keep your relationship happily velcroed in place. My husband fills up my car and will surprise me with a special meal he brings home. One he knows I like. I tease him and tell him he gets big points! He always smiles. Every morning, while he watches the news, I bring him his huge company logo mug of coffee.
Hand holding, touching, or a midday love email or text are small ways of showing affection that add big dividends to your relationship bankroll. Research shows small gestures add mounds of bigger impact on partnership happiness than do big-deal, more costly infrequent gestures. For added fun, whip up well-being by doing random acts of kindness for others, too. This makes for great dinner conversation and warm-heart sharing.
3. Cultivate “NOW Has the Pow!”Communication ~ In Bold Colors, Put Your Relationship in the Present Tense.
Commit to and devote at least 10 minutes a day to active, engaged connecting. Hashing over problems doesn’t qualify as love time, either. Ask fun powerful questions, “What was one good thing that happened to you today?”. Take time to share and care. Most couples think they talk to each other more than they do in reality. Ask yourself this powerful question: “How often do I talk about emotionally meaningful topics that truly deepen our mutual understanding?” Content and happy couples ask for each other’s opinion, share ideas, dream out loud, and tackle goals together. They appreciate their partner’s input.
Caveat: Be careful how you question or delve into your relationship. Don’t analyze, have to be right, or always need to get in the last word. Instead, ask about other things: Know your partner’s 4 key life positivity arenas: friends, stressors, life dreams, and values. Everyday, touch base with your partner about anything OTHER than house work, family, household problems, or your relationship. Focus on him/her. This simple change infuses zest, curiosity, and creativity into your couple communication. It bonds your relationship. Positive regard infuses relationship spirit. Your lover knows he/she matters.
4. Keep the Embers of Love Burning Bright ~ Date Night and Don’t be Late!
Bless your calendar by adding a star for date night. Watch those stars’ reflect shine in your partner’s eyes. Like sex, some people like to schedule a date and some don’t. Regardless, if you don’t schedule time for fun and relaxation, your relationship hits a road block. Resentment creeps in and fogs your windshield. You lose your way as a couple. Spontaneous dates are great, but reality is, if you get too busy, your embers of love go up in smoke. Your lover begins to wonder if you care.
Keep your love relationship rocking with a once-a-week or bi-weekly date. Take turns selecting a movie, going dancing, enjoying an event, or joint exercising. Guys, here’s a tip: get your partner away from home. A new view blocks work, home and kids’ demands. You might also trade baby-sitting chores with friends and book your own sleep-over at a local hotel. Even switch houses with your neighbor to save money. Also, ask your partner to make a bucket list of things he/she would like to do. You do the same. Compare notes and enjoy dreaming/planning the journeys.
5. Embrace and Expect Change ~ What Is Your Opportunity to Grow…Alone and Together?
Like any other living entity, your relationship needs to be mindfully open, willing and flexible to help you thrive and feel a sense of well-being. The best way to nurture it is to infuse it with interesting nuance. Much like fertilizer for a plant, introducing change is imperative if you want to orchestrate your couple happiness. The changes can be small, but they are important.
Try swapping roles. If you always call the sitter, kindly ask your partner to do it. Change up your routines. Take a mental health day from work work, go for a drive, see a play, have coffee, or lay around and watch movies. Novelty is also a super relationship-waker-upper. Plan to learn something new together, take a vacation to a long-desired place place, or look at old photos. My husband and I are learning Spanish. He is much better at it than I, but we can laugh and fuss about our foibles. Humor is major! Laugh out loud when life throws a monkey wrench into your plans. Life morphs. Share that together, too.
6. Accept or Tolerate Your Partner’s Friends and Family ~ Negotiate and Compromise is Wise!
Don’t fall into the “But I don’t like them!” friends and family trap. Be honest with your boundaries. This is a talk best initiated early in your relationship. I am embarrassed to admit this, but I remember on our first date, I asked Ken if his parents were still alive. I have to tell you, I felt sorry they were already in Heaven, but a part of me was relieved I would not have to deal with trying to please them. I had needed to do in other relationships. I apologized for my insensitivity. Ken scored big points when he understood I did not mean to offend him. Smart and accepting guy!
In your relationship, you need to know who needs how much fun on the run and with whom? Or who has big obligations? Your guy may be like most other guys. He is usually happier when you have a good relationship with his family. of origin. This seems less important for women. The happiest couples also accept, though not necessarily love, interacting with each other’s friends.
Make a list of friends you both like. Happy couples have mutual friends, but they are not necessary tied at the hips. Regular sharing with couples who make you both smile is especially rewarding. Connecting with others adds spice to your partnership life. Take turns going out with couples, too, as you can’t expect your partner to enjoy the same couples as you do all the time. Negotiate and compromise. This goes for family visits, too, especially holiday obligations. Make your own couple rules.
7. Listen with Curiosity and Courage ~ Be an Empathetic, Supportive, and Willing Listener.
Gaze into your partner’s eyes and feel your energy exchange, a “micro-moment of love.” No kidding. This works. Noted psychology researcher, Barbara Fredrickson, has a terrific book, LOVE 2.0, every partner needs to read. Your partner first wants to know you are there. He/she may not need or want you to be a problem-solver. Some days your ears are just as important as your heart. Put your partner first. Zone in on what he/she has to say in earnest. Sometimes a hug is as important as a verbal solution. I walk up to Ken often and ask, “DWGOHT”. Huh? It’s our short-hand love-language for, “Did we get our hug today?” Have fun and create your own!
One of the three things you need for to have a happy relationship is solid, dependable support. The other two needs are reassurance and intimacy. Not just sexual intimacy, but a warm closeness that is special between the two of you. A unique understanding and truth. You really need to show up for your lover. Ask your partner specifically how he/she needs and wants to be loved.
Ask permission before you offer constructive feedback. First listen. Be empathetic. Let your partner know you are aware of his/her feelings. Employ what Gottman, calls “the soft set-up”: Be brave and use an ease-in comment, “Honey, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but there is something I need to talk to you about.” If you have a gut feeling your partner needs help, ask. Be ready to give your undivided attention. No multi-tasking.
8. Frolic in Frivolous Fun Flow No Matter Where You Go ~ Tandem Play Makes the Blues Go Away!
Laughter lightens up relationships. It produces endorphins to make you feel good, and it decreases cortisol which relieves your stress mess. It may be one of the most potent positivity tonics! Sometimes, you need to know away logic and just let fun rip. Frivolous fun play, lost in abandon, helps time stand still and gleefully replaces drudgery.
Replace excessive work with a pinch of naughtiness. Step out of your same old routine box. Perhaps revisit happy times and do what you loved as a kid. Watch your favorite old movie, eat comfort foods, dance in the kitchen or in the rain for no reason, read one of your journaled happy moments. Changing your context from work to play will absolutely lighten your day. Laughter is contagious. Try this for fun. Just start laughing. Watch your lover guffaw, too.
9. Know When to Hold’em, Know When to Fold Them ~ Relinquish Resentments, Banish Belligerence.
Superglue your lips re: the past. You may default to the past when you do not feel listened to NOW. And NOW is where you need to plant your feet to resolve a present issue. Scars don’t look good on anyone, so quit staring at them! Hot topics from the past erode your here and now. They kill positivity passion.
Resentment and anger dredged up from prior difficult situations means your problem-solving and conflict resolution skills need some major renovation. LET GO! Ask the universe take over. Conflict is inevitable. You have a brain, so does your partner. That means different ideas and reactions. But give yourself peace. Don’t expect your partner to be responsible for your happiness. No way you can expect to always agree. But how you accept life and move forward is key. And it’s your responsibility.
Identify your recurring themes cropping up from your past. WORK and PLAY with new acceptance. Learn new love skills to map out creative ways to deal with hassles. Challenge yourself to engage your strengths. Courageously, ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?” Or, “Five years from now, will this really matter?” Or, “Am I being too stubborn here?” Remember, what you focus on grows. Make your LOVE MAP of SHARING your goal. Winning at love on the whole is better than winning a disagreement. Forget even-steven. Life is rarely fair or equal all the time.
10. Fly to Flourishing ~ Put on Your Super Power Positivity Communication Cape
What is good communication? It’s being assertive, not passive or aggressive. It’s focusing on all the terrific things that are RIGHT about your partner pairing. You are two fine wines sampled one at a time. Take turns. It takes real courage to tell-it-like-it-is without stepping on your partner’s toes. To be forth-coming with kindness and understanding rather than a my-way-or-the-highway attitude.
Some days you need to mindfully put on your powerful positivity cape. It is always donned to help. You know the one. It’s your magic communication cape lovingly embroidered in dazzling colors with your 24 Values in Action strengths. You especially need to prime your honesty, gratitude, ability to love, and forgiveness strengths. Sweeten the pot with savoring, appreciating, flow, fun, and mutual meaning. You have everything it takes to learn to be a terrific two-some. Start right now!
Relationships are the golden gift of life. There are few happy hermits! Remember to count your buddy blessings. This means not only asking your partner what he/she needs, but telling your partner what you need. Listen like a hawk. After a Murphy’s Law day, where everything seems to have hit the skids, acknowledge the crap and comfort your partner.
Now that you know what TO DO, here are a few wreck-your-relationship No-No’s:
- No mind-reading.
- No sweeping pain under the carpet.
- No ultimatums.
- No barking orders.
- No negative griping.
- No yelling.
- No criticism.
- No contempt.
- No derogation.
- No stonewalling, passive aggressive silence.
- No public put-downs and arguments.
Sweep these dastardly deeds out of your life with the intensity of an ocean mine sweeper!
Be eager with your empathy. Offer a quick hug of support and encouragement. You are not the Lone Ranger. You are a tag team match of mutuality. Each strong in his/her own way. Just don’t throw punches at each other!
Is that you I see jaunting off happily to give your partner a little smooch?