13 Ways to Make a Happier, Better Relationship
(or Start a GREAT One)
Half the marriages are going to end in divorce. The other half aren’t happy. And you are going to ask, “how’s the wife”? You idiot.
So talk about the kids right?
Hello? Anyone in there.
Do you have kids? Do you have kids squared? (That’s a kid who is between 15 and 18)
The world has changed!
Place human beings in the same living space for long enough and you can guarantee a few things.
First, you know that if they don’t hate each other yet… they fight, argue, bicker, quarrel, yell, hoot and holler (not necessarily in that order).
As men become more expendable…they’re getting expended….like getting shot out of a PEZ dispenser.
Relationships don’t have to go to hell in a hand basket, most are already there.
Not Every Relationship is Worth Saving
Now before I go too far here, know this…, not all relationships are worth saving.
I’ve worked with enough people over the years to know that abuse is a pretty common fact of life. (With both sexes being equally as capable of whacking around a spouse with or without kitchen utensils in hand.)
Chances are that relationship, given that behavior on a regular basis, doesn’t need to recharge, it needs to end.
But there’s the vast majority of relationships that simply go the way almost all relationships go.
You can’t put people together on a boat or in a room, keep them there and think they’ll all like each other more in 10 years. That’s just not real. You don’t hate the lady three doors down. You can’t stand the one on the couch next to you because she has done 246 things to hurt you over the last few…days.
So, is the grass greener on the other side?
The Grass is Always (Not) Greener
The lady down the street. Shoot. She’s good looking and attractive. And she’s never done a dang thing. (Of course you’ve never been in a room with her for long…or if you have don’t come running to me for protection!)
No, the opposite is the case.
Everyone was married to the psycho-bish or rectal empty part of a donut…and then they found their new person…and about 18 months later they realized that the new person is a psycho wacko too.
The deal is this: We, as humans, are all pretty nuts.
Get over it.
The grass is always greener elsewhere. Sunglasses make everything look better outside and you take them off and see your life inside…and it’s always the same…whatever that is.
Pretty soon you have war or “cold war.” (One is loud, one is quiet, neither is good.)
Let’s say there are four people in a “family.” (20 years ago a family was two adults and two kids. Today it’s a single parent with a divorced Dad visiting the Step Dad’s house…with a kid from marriage A, B and C.) Single parents for the first time have the majority of households in America.
That’s a cultural and economic disaster inches away from falling off the cliff.
Today I’m going to play devil’s advocate and pretend like a relationship you’re in might be worth saving, building, creating or designing.
Now, even if that’s crazy, I promise that you’ll get cool ideas that just might make life work.
Chain of Command
Back to the four people in a family…four people in a room…
- One will become the leader.
- One will resent the leader.
- One will keep away from the leader and the resenter.
- One will try and be an intercessor.
(Scary how that works huh?) Identify your position in the family and find ways to soften your stance. If you’re the “leader”, ask your partner’s opinion more often before making decisions. Let them know that they are important and their opinions matter.
If you are the “supporter” in the relationship and have come to resent your partner’s “bossiness”, then find your voice and speak your opinion assertively.
Include your children in family activities. When there is a disagreement, keep it between the two individuals and learn effective conflict resolution skills so that no one needs to feel like a mediator.
What’s a very special tool you can use to help rebuild your relationship?
The Emotional Bid
When someone tries to communicate something to another in an effort to make things better, we’re going to call that an “emotional bid.”
The Emotional Bid.
I love the term and wish I would have coined the phrase. It means just about anything you do or say to attempt to connect with someone. Keep these in mind as you read on and realize how many opportunies you have to connect with your mate.
- “How are you?”
- “How are you feeling?”
- “Want to watch CSI tonight?”
- “Dinner was good.”
- “Would you massage my back for a minute?”
Those are emotional bids and because relationships often go from fire and flame… to roomies…there could be benefits in putting some spice back into life!
Tips for Rebuilding a Healthy Relationship
1. Start Over
One of my favorite songs is John Lennon’s “Starting Over.” “It’s been so long since we took the time. No one’s to blame. My how time flies…so quickly.” When couples first get together, everything is new and exciting. They overlook the little annoying things the other person does.
However, as time passes, the nagging starts. Instead of hearing, “You look beautiful,” they might hear “Why are you wearing that shirt?”
If this sounds like your relationship, first, the two of you need to sit down and be honest that things have changed. Identify the things each other did in the beginning of the relationship that created the attraction in the first place. Then together, make a commitment to start over. The truth is, both of you will have to work on this. It will not automatically be easy but it is possible.
Start by forgiving each other, forgetting the past, and then start over with the flirtation. Focus only on the special things your mate does and relearn to put the unimportant things aside. It will take some time so be patient.
2. Schedule Time
Time together is crucial. It’s the whole ball game. Recent research I’ve been delving into about rejection essentially shows that relationships split because time together dwindles down. Time is the commodity of a relationship. Nothing is more important.
This time can be with friends, dining out, attending a sporting event, or cuddling together while watching a favorite movie. The activity is not what is important but the fact that you are together, doing something that you both enjoy. People have extremely busy schedules and between work, family, the home, errands, and everything else going on, finding time for your mate can be difficult.
Just as you would schedule a meeting on your calendar, show some courtesy in the relationship by scheduling time with each other. Once the plan is in place, no backing out unless you have some life and death emergency.
I’ve always been big on scheduling things that matter with people that matter. I’ve never seen anything to change my mind.
3. The Power of Touch
When a child is ill, doctors will tell you that it is proven that a simple, loving touch of a parent can sometimes quickly pull the child through a crisis. It is the same for relationships.
Playing with your partner’s hair, rubbing their hand, a soft kiss on the neck, a soft pat on the leg or giving a gentle back rub will make a huge difference in how your mate responds to you.
Hey, when was the last time you walked up to your mate for no reason and without saying a word, affectionately placed a kiss on their neck? This is not in a sexual way, but an affectionate way. There is a difference. The next time the two of you are sitting in the car, at the grocery story, or standing in line at the theater, quietly reach over and take their hand.
Do not be surprised if you get a strange look of curiosity the first time!
You know, like the “where were you last night” face…
If you and your partner have scheduled some time for a Friday night dinner, put together a surprise instead. For example, if your partner loves opera, buy some tickets near the front and let them take a friend…(just kidding) …or if they like concerts, purchase the tickets ahead of time, getting the best seats possible.
When Friday night comes around, insist on driving and head toward the location where the event is taking place. When asked where you are going, simply answer, “I have a surprise for you.”
The idea of you getting the tickets for something THEY like and then keeping it as a special surprise will touch the heart!
5. Needed Space
As important as it is to spend quality time together, it is equally important to give each other time to do something they like. If your partner loves to fish (I live in Minnesota, it’s hard to think of people doing anything but…sometimes) but you have no desire to bait a hook with little, slimy worms, or if you like to go to the casino but your girl would rather do something different, encourage each other to take time apart.
Hey, most of the casinos have Spas now where you can get a massage for an hour. Seems like a dandy gift idea to me…
6. No Debates
If you know that you and your partner have proven differences in opinion on certain subjects, avoid those subjects.
You think they’re going to change with YOU doing the persuading???
If you haven’t gone through the first 60 Volumes of The Science of Influence on CD, you have no chance!
If you are a Republican and your partner is a Democrat, politics should probably be avoided. As the two of you identify new topics that could cause a debate session, stop the conversation before it even gets started.
What’s the point?
7. Put the kibosh on B.S. Talk
If you are married, especially with children, break out of the habit of talking about nothing. Many times, families will be sitting around the dinner table and the conversation consists of, “Do you like your carrots?”, or “I wonder what is on TV tonight?”
Instead, change your strategy to include real questions, showing real interest. Replace the normal, “Did you have a good day at work?” with “Tell me what you did at work today.” Even if you do not understand everything being said, listen with interest. It is not that you are so much interested in the work, but your partner’s life.
8. Re-establish Old Traditions
If you and your partner had a tradition of some kind when you first got together, dust it off and breathe life back into it.
Perhaps you met after work on Friday at the local pub for a drink, washed your cars together every Saturday morning, or attended church together on Sunday. Whatever it was, re-establish the tradition. See what happens.
9. Lighten Up
Often when couples have gone through or are going through some bumpy spots in their relationship, things tend to get serious. It could be that there is a tremendous amount of tension or perhaps they are not sure what to say.
Regardless of the reason, learn to lighten up.
Do not take every comment, glance, or movement as a serious problem.
If your mate makes a mistake, which you both will, let it go, or if appropriate, laugh about it. If you make a mistake, do not be afraid to poke fun at yourself. This will automatically start the process of tension breaking.
When couples are having problems in a relationship, communication is the first thing to stop. It is often easier to just be quiet than to get mad. When rebuilding relationships, just as communication was the first to stop, it now needs to be the first to start.
This is where the emotional bid comes in handy.
This will require that both individuals let down their guard and pretty much throw caution to the wind. Healing in the relationship cannot start until you talk. Make an agreement that you will talk about anything and everything and that you will listen, really listen.
That does not mean that you will agree with everything, which is perfectly fine. However, if you do not agree, do not yell, rather, the two of you need to calmly discuss the issue and together, work out a solution. This is hard work but within a very short time, you will both feel much better, individually and as a couple.
11. A Night of Passion
FINALLY we get to the good stuff. Took forever, I know…cut me some slack…
Intimacy and passion in relationships is not only important but also healthy…and fun…
Couples need to enjoy being together in an intimate way. When relationships are troubled, the last thing either person wants is to be sexual or passionate with each other.
They wouldn’t think of “giving something to that jerk.”
However, this is a part of the healing and rebuilding of the relationship and although it might be awkward in the beginning, it is crucial. Make your intimate time together special.
Surprise your partner with a warm bubble bath, lighted candles, soft music, and a bottle of wine, or reserve a nice romantic evening at a local hotel to include a wonderful candlelit dinner, fine wine, and a beautiful room.
12. Dinner Party
Start a new tradition of hosting a dinner party every other month or two and inviting several of you and your partner’s friends.
Set up board games that everyone will enjoy, have some light and lively music playing, and plan to have a blast. Spending time with friends in this kind of setting is a great way to reduce stress. When stress is low, couples get along better. This is a wonderful way to interact with each other’s friends as a couple.
My experience in life has been when friends are over, they say things you are thinking to your partner and it takes a lot of pressure off of you.
And, lastly, a way to make your partner feel very, very special…
13. Happy Birthday
As people grow older, in general, birthdays become less celebrated. Gifts are quickly given, meals eaten, and it is over. For your partner’s next birthday, take some time to plan something very special.
DON’T BUY ROSES.
Instead, buy their OTHER favorite flowers and have the florist put in some cool and unusual colored flowers. It shows you took the time to do something different.
Make this a true celebration of their life as a way of showing your love and appreciation. Every person, even adults, like attention and love to be appreciated.
I promise, they will be impressed that you went to all the effort just for them.
Want to Know the Secrets of Making People Like You?
IRRESISTIBLE ATTRACTION: Unlocking Your Inner Magnetism
with Kevin Hogan and Beth Bednar
People form their first impression of you in the first four seconds! Maximize your natural attributes to create an instant bond with anyone you meet.
Irresistible attraction means bringing your charismatic you to all of your relationships. Whether you are moving toward intimacy or simply want to be at your best, this video takes you through the laws of attraction and charisma.
You will learn how to:
- Communicate with others at the Unconscious Level.
- Use easy to learn gestures and body positions to make or break a first impression.
- See what your (or their) eyes are really saying.
- What to say when you don’t know what to say!
- Create chemistry with anyone at will.
- Words and phrases that virtually guarantee they will say yes!
Kevin shares the screen with Beth Bednar, a well-known public speaker and real estate investor. She was an ABC-TV affiliate anchorperson and now does commercials and voice-overs.