Wow, so this is how other people conduct relationships??

Was browsing through yahoo and came across this article, read it and was almost shocked.  Is this all true?  Sadly, it’s certainly a far cry from my own experience.

10 Habits of Happy Couples:

As I toss the empty heart-shaped box in the trash, a thought occurs
to me that I dare not share with my husband: I would love him even
without the double-chocolate Valentine’s Day truffles. It’s not the
predictable expressions of love that make a relationship endure, but
the day-to-day efforts (like truffles on a nondescript Wednesday, for
example) that keep couples happy.

First of all, let’s state the obvious: There are some things that
good relationships just have to have – it’s no secret that without
trust, honesty and attraction, you’re waging an uphill battle. And
let’s not sugar-coat what we mean by "happy." Even the most blissful of
spouses get the urge to fling the occasional forkful of mashed potatoes
at each other for leaving crumbs in the butter.

But all that aside, happy couples make a conscious decision to be
just that: happy. And they do simple, practical things to keep the
spark bright.

Talk, talk, talk

With a heavy family schedule, it’s quite possible for a couple to
get to the end of the week and realize they haven’t communicated much
more than to say, "Why is there a Tonka toy in the fridge?" It’s a
dilemma Lori and Marleau Belanger faced. Their solution? Game night. "A
few nights a week, after the kids go to bed, we sit down at the kitchen
table and play a game. That way we can just focus on each other."

And to connect between games of backgammon, the Winnipeg couple
relies on email. "It sounds weird because we’re in the same house and
we use the same computer," says Lori. "But if I want to tell him
something’s coming up, like a family event, I’ll email him and remind
him about that, and that way I know he’s seen it and he can put it on
his calendar…. Sometimes he’ll just send me little jokes and stuff."

Date

… each other, of course. "Date night" is a constant refrain of
couples who describe their relationship as happy. "You know you’ve got
the babysitter, so you know the time is yours," says Joan Marsman, a
Toronto marriage and family therapist. "You can dress for it, you can
look forward to it, you can fantasize about it. People need that adult
time."

Christine and Dave Wilson of Victoria have put a spin on date night.
Two years ago, they joined a coed curling team and now, every Thursday
night, they leave their two sons with a sitter and hit the rink.
Christine says the team aspect ensures they won’t miss a night because
they know that people are counting on them. And, she adds, "the
communication is definitely a lot better. Whether it’s the drive out
there, while we’re standing waiting for our turn or having a drink
afterward, we have that time when we’re not being interrupted by ‘Mom,
I want juice,’ or ‘Dad, I want a story.’"

Spend time apart

OK, this one may seem a little counterintuitive, but it goes back to
that old cliché that you can’t make another person happy if you’re not
happy yourself. And pursuing friendships and interests outside of your
marriage can make you more fulfilled and rounded, both as a person and
a spouse. "As much as I’m a partner, I’m an individual first. And he
fell in love with that individual, so maintaining that is part of the
relationship," says Orillia, Ont., mother of two Lisa Day, who makes
sure she regularly goes out with friends and to the gym.

Let small things slide

Day made a conscious decision to pick her battles after her husband,
Brad, said he felt like he couldn’t do anything right. "My heart just
went down to my toes," she says. "It’s so easy to get stuck saying,
‘You didn’t put the toilet paper roll on,’ or ‘You left the lid up.’
And you don’t even realize you’re doing it."

Allison and Tom Dresen of Wawanesa, Man., have a special perspective
on keeping trivial irritations from getting in the way of enjoying each
other. He’s in the Canadian Forces and has served in Bosnia and
Afghanistan. "Does it really matter that he didn’t do the dishes when
he might be gone [on duty] tomorrow?" says Allison. "You get used to
letting go of things and keeping your eyes on what’s important and
having a happy relationship."

It’s advice similar to what Marsman regularly tells her clients:
"Let small things go, don’t hold on to grudges…. If it’s small, let
it be small and let it stay small."

Fight fair

It’s not if you fight, it’s how you fight. Fighting, when done right, should help resolve conflict, not create more.

Marsman says good fighters stick with the issue they’re fighting
about and try not to take it too personally. "They listen to their
partner’s point of view, acknowledge it and discuss it."

"We try to be civilized about fighting," says Kerri Gingerich of
Zurich, Ont. "If it’s negative and it doesn’t need to be said, just
don’t say it. If you only get excited about the big things, then you
take each other more seriously."

When Lisa and Brad Day find an argument is getting too heated, they
try this tactic: "We give each other the opportunity to take off, cool
off, come back and then talk," says Lisa.

Stay intimate

Sex is a connection that you share only with your partner (OK,
unfortunately not always, but that’s another article…), so making
sure that bond is strong helps the relationship. Gingerich feels that
sex gives her and her partner, Barry Willert, a deeper level of
emotional communication. So when they noticed a drop off
in sex after the birth of their son, Ryan, they took steps to bring
back that lovin’ feeling. "We’ve just learned that you have to take the
time and once you do make it a regular thing, then physically it’s also
better. When the relationship is good the sex is good, and when the sex
is good the relationship is good."

There’s no magic number when it comes to frequency. "Everybody has a
different tolerance or need for affection and touch," says Marsman. "So
as long as those needs can get met, you’re OK…. When you’ve got a
huge discrepancy, you can have problems." In fact, the Todaysparent.com
2005 Sex Survey of almost 10,000 online visitors revealed that 33
percent wanted sex more frequently than their partner, while 42 percent
said their partner wanted sex more often than they do.

Touch

Of course, there’s also a lot to be said for the more PG-rated
versions of physical connection. "We hold hands like we did the first
time we met," says Kim Reid of Toronto. "We are committed parents, but
we were a couple before that, so we try to keep that alive."

In fact, a kiss, hug or pat on the shoulder is a quick and simple
way for couples to make each other feel loved. "We have a kiss and a
hug every morning before he goes to work," says Gingerich. "And we
always kiss before we go to sleep, even if we’re fighting or angry at
each other."

Say thank you

It’s great to have a comfort level with your spouse that allows you
to eat with your fingers or shrug off the occasional gaseous release,
but it’s still good to mind your manners most of the time – it makes
people feel appreciated and respected.

For example, Leanne and Stefan Grammenz of Toronto make sure they
acknowledge even the most mundane day-to-day chores. "Stefan will thank
me for doing the dishes," says Leanne. "It’s funny, but I don’t mind
doing it as much because I know he notices."

Keep it surprising

When Marleau Belanger complained about the prospect of celebrating
his milestone 30th birthday on Christmas Eve, his wife, Lori, threw him
a 29 1/2 birthday party in June. And for their third anniversary last
July, Marleau hired a four-seater plane to fly the two of them over
Winnipeg. "I would never have guessed in a million years that he could
have planned something so special for us to do."

Of course, endearing surprises can also be simple, like leaving
notes or, in Lisa and Brad Day’s case, impromptu dances across the
kitchen floor: "We play a lot of music in the house and I’ll just grab
him and start dancing. He just goes along with it and the kids love it."

Make the effort

If you take your relationship for granted, all the other secrets
listed here are useless. "It’s really important not to ignore your
relationship because that’s the greatest gift you’re going to give to
your kids," says Marsman.

"After five years of marriage, we’re still figuring things out,"
says Leanne Grammenz, who with her husband, Stefan, regularly discuss
their relationship. For example, she says, when their son, Willem, was
born two years ago, they had to work through all the new emotions and
anxieties that come to the surface with such a life-changing event.
"There were things we didn’t know each other was sensitive about and we
had to work at it and adjust."

And for those who have the view that good relationships shouldn’t
take effort, Marsman has this response: "People work at their careers,
they work at their hobbies. And I think in good marriages,
long-standing, healthy marriages, people make an effort to make it
work."

Originally published in Today’s Parent, February 2006. This content was current at the time of publication.

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