Family Relationships

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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Improving Your Relationship for Valentine's Day

With research statistics still indicating that one out of every two marriages in the United States ends in divorce, you can beat the odds by resolving this Valentine's Day to work on improving your marriage.
Photo by Clare Bloomfield /

Instead of letting your arguments spiral out of control, vow to use fair fighting techniques and put your differences behind you before you go to bed at night. Here are some tips to get you started:

Believe in your ability to change as a couple. When you make a pact to let go of old hurt feelings, you can focus on the present and what you can do to transform it. Trust that your love runs deep enough to support the work of strengthening it.

Focus on specific behaviors you would like your partner to change. Identify and prioritize particular actions that upset you and calmly talk about these. Be realistic about the ones you choose - focus on behaviors that your partner is able and willing to change.

Don't get stuck in past arguments. Agree not to fight the same battles over and over again. Either try to resolve them once and for all or agree to disagree. When you do, you can let go of your anger and begin the process of forgiveness.

Keep your communication open and honest. And be willing to cooperate and compromise about issues where you disagree. When you are able to deal with your anger and forgive your partner for mistakes he has made, you can both grow from the experience. And you'll feel better if you offer an apology when you have been the one in the wrong.

Give compliments freely. Sometimes it seems easier to criticize and complain than to praise and acknowledge positive behavior. Instead, be more attentive to the actions you want to reinforce. When you are thinking something nice, say it out loud to your partner.

Invest in your partnership. Make time for your relationship just as you would for any valuable asset. The efforts that you put into growing and developing it will be returned in multiples. Use each other for support as you are going through the myriad challenges of life.

Create greater intimacy with your partner and keep up the romance. Remind each other why you fell in love. Set aside time to be together and focus on each other. Be free with your affection and warmth. Tap into your sensuality and find new ways of exploring and expressing your sexual relationship together.

Plan some exciting adventures to bring back the feelings of exhilaration you felt when you first feel in love. You can discover new activities you both like to do - take a class, travel, go on an outing. The thrill of a new discovery can release dopamine and bring more pleasure into your relationship, encouraging real intimacy between you.

Studies have shown that for couples in love there are surges in dopamine, the chemical of pleasure, and in oxytocin, the hormone of bonding. These encourage further closeness and provide the benefits of reducing stress, creating calm, suppressing pain and producing better immune functioning. Researchers have estimated that in about one-third of long-term marriages, couples have the same kind of brain responses to each other as do newly in love couples. So whether you've been together for years or are newly falling in love, enjoy the feelings of closeness and have a happy Valentine's Day.

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