What do people say about you when you’re not around?

This is the post excerpt.

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What do people say about you when you’re not around?

A couple of years ago, when I first started blogging, I met this guy, Chris’s Promise . He had started a parenting blog shortly after I did and we struck up a friendship. He’s a talented writer with a razor-sharp wit. Sure we teased each other back and forth, as guys tend to do, but I’ll say this about Dave, he’s one of the most honest, and genuine people I know.

And the funny thing is, that’s pretty much the opinion of anyone I run into who has “met” him (online).

Why is that?

Well, for one, Chris’s  the kind of guy who offers to help you without being asked. He promotes your stuff when there’s nothing in it for him, and who is always there when you need someone to talk to. And he’s funny and charming, to boot.

The reason I bring Dave up is that I genuinely want Dave to be a HUGE success! He deserves it. He’s the nice guy you root for. He’s the down-to-earth and a caring family guy who can life your spirits or make you laugh with a comment or email.

He’s a VIP – A Volunteer Interested In People.

He’s someone who genuinely likes people, and who you, in turn, can’t help but like.

Now you see how I feel about Dave, right? Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone was a VIP? How awesome would this world be with everyone being nice to everyone, helping one another out?

Yeah, I know it will never happen. But, if you’d like people to love you even when you’re not around, then maybe you should learn some lessons on how a VIP does it.

Here’s some tips on how to make people say awesome things about you.

Be yourself. Most VIPs I’ve known are authentic people. They don’t hide their flaws, and in fact, oftentimes, use them to their advantage – their little colorful quirks. Be yourself and true to your principles, and you’ll work your way into the hearts of people who recognize and appreciate the real you.

Ask about others. Ever have a conversation where you knew the other person was just going through the motions? They didn’t ask logical follow-up questions, which proved they either weren’t paying attention, or worse, they didn’t care about you. I don’t know about you, but that leaves a horrible impression on me. I’m more likely to think well of the person who hung on my every word, or at least seemed interested in what I was saying. It’s human nature – people like people who like them!

Be complimentary. This kind of goes with the above section. But saying nice things is one of the quickest ways you can endear yourself to others. I’m not saying to be a big phoney about it. Nobody wants to feel like you’re blowing smoke up their rears. Find something genuinely nice to say, and say it.

Remember the details. Try to remember the projects people told you about, the names of their spouses or children, the fact that they have a Beagle. If you can’t remember, try and take notes and brush up on the facts before meeting the person. Remembering the details that most people forget immediately puts you above most people.

Offer your help. When a VIP meets someone, they don’t ask favors or inquire about things for themselves. They offer their assistance. This isn’t just good advice for being well thought of, but also sage networking advice. If you’re looking to form a relationship or work with someone, try to know what their needs are in advance, and suggest how you can help them meet those needs. Then, when an opportunity for someone like you pops up, who is that person more likely to offer it to? The person that helped them, of course!

Promote others’ interests. Be a champion for other people and their causes. Be a cheerleader! Talk about the good things other people are doing. Not only does this help spread the word to interested people, but it also makes you look like a VIP! When you have something you’re looking to promote, people will likely offer to help you without you even needing to ask.

Don’t trash other people. This should probably go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. If you’re trashing other people, it’s not likely to reflect well on you. Because if you’re talking badly about a mutual friend to me, I can only imagine what you’d say to another friend about me.

Be positive (or at least entertaining). Nobody wants to be around someone who is always miserable. Be cheerful, or at least be entertaining or interesting, and people can’t help but think highly of you.

There is no set of instructions to make ALL people love you, of course. But adopting some of these ideas into your relationships could improve not just the lives of others, but your life as well.

Got any suggestions for becoming a VIP?

Every year 2.3 million couples ask or answer a short four word question — “Should I get engaged?” 

Although the question is short, the outcome is huge. Once all the wedding plans get going, it’s hard to change your mind! That’s why if you’re currently considering asking or answering the “Would you marry me?” question, you need to be absolutely sure you’re ready to get married before you get engaged.

In my book, Before You Get Engaged, I give twelve factors someone should consider before making an engagement decision. These twelve factors focus on the following 

three areas:

1. Are you personally ready to get married? 

Would you marry you? A dating or engagement relationship, or ultimately a marriage, is only as healthy as the individuals in it. Relational health is vitally connected to individual health. It begins with you. 

2. Are you as a couple ready to get married? 

When I work with couples who are considering marriage, I encourage them to think about the ways their similarities and differences could add or subtract from their relationship. Core values, personality differences, likes and dislikes, spending habits — these areas and more are essential factors in relational harmony and success. 

3. Do others think you’re ready to get married? 

If you’re considering getting engaged and your family and friends are saying “no,” I’d urge you to give their input serious thought. Something may not be right and therefore needs to be checked out. It’s in your best interest not to ignore what may be some very wise counsel from those who know you best. 

Several years ago a large number of married couples were asked, “If you had it to do all over again, would you marry the same person?” Shockingly, 70 percent of these couples said no, they would not marry the person they had married. That’s tragic, but it’s also preventable. Make sure before you get engaged that you’ve found the right person for you – and for each other!

​Habits That Can Hurt Your Sex Life

You Binge on Bad Foods


If you’re a junk-food junkie, you’re filling your body with lots of refined carbs, simple sugars, and saturated and trans fat. This can slow your blood flow and affect how well you can perform during sex. Cut out the junk and go for plenty of fruits, veggies, and plant-based protein (nuts, beans, and tofu). Bonus: A healthy eating plan will give you more energy for sex.

You Eat Too Much Salt

When salty foods are a regular part of your diet, you’re more likely to have high blood pressure, which can lower your libido. Steer clear of prepackaged foods, which often have lots of sodium, and watch how much you add at the table. Instead, add flavor with herbs and spices.

You Stay Stressed

Constant strain and worry wears you out — everywhere. When you flood your body with stress hormones for a long periods of time, it hijacks your health and also tanks your desire to have sex. Try to figure out what’s stressing you so you can think about the best ways to handle it. It’s also a good idea to make time for regular stress-relief — a walk in a park, a yoga class, or laughing at your favorite comedy.

You Skip Foreplay

Science backs it up: Building up to sex can make it better. In one survey of almost 8,700 people, both men and women said sex lasted longer when they included more types of stimulation beforehand. The real engine revvers? Oral sex and masturbation.

You’re Too Busy

When life gets hectic, sex can sometimes be the first thing kicked off your “to-do” list. But intimacy in your relationship should be a priority. Scheduling sex may sound like a buzzkill, but it can help you make sure you don’t keep putting it off. So mark time on your calendars, and stick to it. You’ll feel more connected, which will lead to better bouts in bed.

You Stick to the Same Old, Same Old

Sometimes a stale sex spell is just a matter of being stuck in a rut. You might have a routine and not even realize it. Mix it up: try new positions or have sex in a place or at a time you don’t usually do it. Or try adding new alternatives like massage or sex toys to your routine.

You Don’t Speak Up

If there’s something about your sex life that’s bothering you, or you have ideas about new things you’d like to try, talk about it. Worried about how your partner might handle the conversation? Try to frame it around your feelings and reactions, not your partner’s. It helps to start your sentences with “I” instead of “you.”

You Diss Your Body

The messages you tell yourself — or hear from others — about your body make a big difference in how confident you feel. When those messages are negative, your self-image takes a hit, and so does your sex drive. If your default mode is to put yourself down, break the habit and try to focus on what you like about yourself. Take care of yourself, and spend time with people who make you feel good.

You Drink Too Much

One glass of wine or a beer might help you relax, but a booze binge can make you crash and burn in the bedroom. Men in particular can struggle with performance issues when they have too much alcohol in their system. Keep your drinking in moderation — no more than one drink a day for women and two for men.

You Skimp on Shut-Eye

If you don’t snooze, you could lose your libido. One study found that women who got more sleep tended to have more (and better) sex.

You Don’t Watch Your Waistline

Is your scale showing a higher number than usual these days? Shedding a few pounds could boost your performance in the bedroom — especially if you’re a guy. One study found that men with a waist over 40 inches were more likely to have erectile dysfunction than those with slimmer stomachs.

You Light Up

There’s a long list of ways smoking harms your health, and slashing sexual desire is on it. Chemicals in tobacco can mess with blood flow, which can cause sexual problems, especially for men. Talk to your doctor about how you can kick the habit.

RELATIONSHIP PROBLEM AND SOLUTION 


Relationship Problem: Communication

All relationship problems stem from poor communication, according to Elaine Fantle Shimberg, author of Blending Families. “You can’t communicate while you’re checking your BlackBerry, watching TV, or flipping through the sports section,” she says.

Problem-solving strategies:

Make an actual appointment with each other, Shimberg says. If you live together, put the cell phones on vibrate, put the kids to bed, and let voicemail pick up your calls.

If you can’t “communicate” without raising your voices, go to a public spot like the library, park, or restaurant where you’d be embarrassed if anyone saw you screaming.

Set up some rules. Try not to interrupt until your partner is through speaking, or ban phrases such as “You always …” or “You never ….”

Use body language to show you’re listening. Don’t doodle, look at your watch, or pick at your nails. Nod so the other person knows you’re getting the message, and rephrase if you need to. For instance, say, “What I hear you saying is that you feel as though you have more chores at home, even though we’re both working.” If you’re right, the other can confirm. If what the other person really meant was, “Hey, you’re a slob and you create more work for me by having to pick up after you,” he or she can say so, but in a nicer way.

Relationship Problem: Sex

Even partners who love each other can be a mismatch, sexually. Mary Jo Fay, author of Please Dear, Not Tonight, says a lack of sexual self-awareness and education worsens these problems. But having sex is one of the last things you should give up, Fay says. “Sex,” she says, “brings us closer together, releases hormones that help our bodies both physically and mentally, and keeps the chemistry of a healthy couple healthy.”

Problem-solving strategies:

Plan, plan, plan. Fay suggests making an appointment, but not necessarily at night when everyone is tired. Maybe during the baby’s Saturday afternoon nap or a “before-work quickie.” Ask friends or family to take the kids every other Friday night for a sleepover. “When sex is on the calendar, it increases your anticipation,” Fay says. Changing things up a bit can make sex more fun, too, she says. Why not have sex in the kitchen? Or by the fire? Or standing up in the hallway?

Learn what truly turns you and your partner on by each of you coming up with a personal “Sexy List,” suggests California psychotherapist Allison Cohen. Swap the lists and use them to create more scenarios that turn you both on.

If your sexual relationship problems can’t be resolved on your own, Fay recommends consulting a qualified sex therapist to help you both address and resolve your issues.

Relationship Problem: Money

Money problems can start even before the wedding vows are exchanged. They can stem, for example, from the expenses of courtship or from the high cost of a wedding. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) recommends that couples who have money woes take a deep breath and have a serious conversation about finances.

Problem-solving strategies:

Be honest about your current financial situation. If things have gone south, continuing the same lifestyle is unrealistic.

Don’t approach the subject in the heat of battle. Instead, set aside a time that is convenient and non-threatening for both of you.

Acknowledge that one partner may be a saver and one a spender, understand there are benefits to both, and agree to learn from each other’s tendencies.

Don’t hide income or debt. Bring financial documents, including a recent credit report, pay stubs, bank statements, insurance policies, debts, and investments to the table.

Don’t blame.

Construct a joint budget that includes savings.

Decide which person will be responsible for paying the monthly bills.

Allow each person to have independence by setting aside money to be spent at his or her discretion.

Decide upon short-term and long-term goals. It’s OK to have individual goals, but you should have family goals, too.

Talk about caring for your parents as they age and how to appropriately plan for their financial needs if needed.

Relationship Problem: Struggles Over Home Chores

Most partners work outside the home and often at more than one job. So it’s important to fairly divide the labor at home, says Paulette Kouffman-Sherman, author of Dating From the Inside Out.

Problem-solving strategies:

Be organized and clear about your respective jobs in the home, Kouffman-Sherman says. “Write all the jobs down and agree on who does what.” Be fair so no resentment builds.

Be open to other solutions, she says. If you both hate housework, maybe you can spring for a cleaning service. If one of you likes housework, the other partner can do the laundry and the yard. You can be creative and take preferences into account — as long as it feels fair to both of you.

Relationship Problem: Not Making Your Relationship a Priority

If you want to keep your love life going, making your relationship a focal point should not end when you say “I do.” “Relationships lose their luster. So make yours a priority,” says Karen Sherman, author of Marriage Magic! Find It, Keep It, and Make It Last.

Problem-solving strategies:

Do the things you used to do when you were first dating: Show appreciation, compliment each other, contact each other through the day, and show interest in each other.

Plan date nights. Schedule time together on the calendar just as you would any other important event in your life.

Respect one another. Say “thank you,” and “I appreciate…” It lets your partner know that they matter.

Relationship Problem: Conflict

Occasional conflict is a part of life, according to New York-based

psychologist Susan Silverman. But if you and your partner feel like you’re starring in your own nightmare version of the movie

Groundhog Day — i.e. the same lousy situations keep repeating day after day — it’s time to break free of this toxic routine. When you make the effort, you can lessen the anger and take a calm look at underlying issues.

Problem-solving strategies:

You and your partner can learn to argue in a more civil, helpful manner, Silverman says. Make these strategies part of who you are in this relationship.

Realize you are not a victim. It is your choice whether you react and how you react.

Be honest with yourself. When you’re in the midst of an argument, are your comments geared toward resolving the conflict, or are you looking for payback? If your comments are blaming and hurtful, it’s best to take a deep breath and change your strategy.

Change it up. If you continue to respond in the way that’s brought you pain and unhappiness in the past, you can’t expect a different result this time. Just one little shift can make a big difference. If you usually jump right in to defend yourself before your partner is finished speaking, hold off for a few moments. You’ll be surprised at how such a small shift in tempo can change the whole tone of an argument.

Give a little; get a lot. Apologize when you’re wrong. Sure it’s tough, but just try it and watch something wonderful happen.

“You can’t control anyone else’s behavior,” Silverman says. “The only one in your charge is you.”

Relationship Problem: Trust

Trust is a key part of a relationship. Do you see certain things that cause you not to trust your partner? Or do you have unresolved issues that prevent you from trusting others?

Problem-solving strategies:

You and your partner can develop trust in each other by following these tips, Fay says.

Be consistent.

Be on time.

Do what you say you will do.

Don’t lie — not even little white lies to your partner or to others.

Be fair, even in an argument.

Be sensitive to the other’s feelings. You can still disagree, but don’t discount how your partner is feeling.

Call when you say you will.

Call to say you’ll be home late.

Carry your fair share of the workload.

Don’t overreact when things go wrong.

Never say things you can’t take back.

Don’t dig up old wounds.

Respect your partner’s boundaries.

Don’t be jealous.

Be a good listener.

Even though there are always going to be problems in a relationship, Sherman says you both can do things to minimize marriage problems, if not avoid them altogether.

First, be realistic. Thinking your mate will meet all your needs — and will be able to figure them out without your asking — is a Hollywood fantasy. “Ask for what you need directly,” she says.

Next, use humor — learn to let things go and enjoy one another more.

Finally, be willing to work on your relationship and to truly look at what needs to be done. Don’t think that things would be better with someone else. Unless you address problems, the same lack of skills that get in the way now will still be there and still cause problems no matter what relationship you’re in.

​HOW TO FIGHT IN RELATIONSHIP


Many people try their best to avoid conflict, but relationship researchers say every conflict presents an opportunity to improve a relationship. The key is to learn to fight constructively in a way that leaves you feeling better about your partner.

Marriage researcher John Gottman has built an entire career out of studying how couples interact. He learned that even in a laboratory setting, couples are willing to air their disagreements even when scientists are watching and the cameras are rolling. From that research, he developed a system of coding words and gestures that has been shown to be highly predictive of a couple’s chance of success or risk for divorce or breakup.

In one important study, Dr. Gottman and his colleagues observed newly married couples in the midst of an argument. He learned that the topic didn’t matter, nor did the duration of the fight. What was most predictive of the couple’s marital health? The researchers found that analyzing just the first three minutes of the couple’s argument could predict their risk for divorce over the next six years.

In many ways, this is great news for couples because it gives you a place to focus. The most important moments between you and your partner during a conflict are those first few minutes when the fight is just getting started. Focus on your behavior during that time, and it likely will change the dynamics of your relationship for the better.

Here’s some general advice from the research about how to start a fight with the person you love:

Identify the complaint, not the criticism.

If you’re upset about housework, don’t start the fight by criticizing your partner with, “You never help me.” Focus on the complaint and what will make it better. “It’s so tough when I work late on Thursdays to come home to dishes and unbathed kids. Do you think you could find a way to help more on those nights?”

Avoid “you” phrases. Phrases like “You always” and “You never” are almost always followed by criticism and blame.

Think about pronouns. Sentence that start with “I” or “We” help you identify problems and solutions, rather than putting blame on someone else.

Be aware of body language. No eye-rolling, which is a sign of contempt. Look at your partner when you speak. No folded arms or crossed legs to show you are open to their feelings and input. Sit or stand at the same level as your partner — one person should not be looking down or looking up during an argument.

Learn to De-escalate: When the argument starts getting heated, take it upon yourself to calm things down. Here are some phrases that are always useful in de-escalation:

“What if we…”

“I know this is hard…”

“I hear what you’re saying…”

“What do you think?”

Dr. Gottman reminds us that fighting with your partner is not a bad thing.After all his years of studying conflict, Dr. Gottman has said he’s a strong believe in the power of argument to help couples improve their relationship. In fact, airing our differences gives our relationship “real staying power,” he says. You just need to make sure you get the beginning right so the discussion can be constructive instead of damaging.

WHY COUPLES FIGHT

A famous study of cardiovascular health conducted in Framingham, Mass., happened to ask its 4,000 participants what topics were most likely to cause conflict in their relationship. Women said issues involving children, housework and money created the most problems in their relationships. Men said their arguments with their spouse usually focused on sex, money and leisure time. Even though the lists were slightly different, the reality is that men and women really care about the same issues: money, how they spend their time away from work (housework or leisure) and balancing the demands of family life (children and sex).

MONEY

Sometimes money problems become marriage problems.

Studies show that money is consistently the most common reason for conflict in a relationship. Couples with financial problems and debt create have higher levels of stress and are less happy in their relationship.

Why does money cause conflict? Fights about money ultimately are not really about finances. They are about a couple’s values and shared goals. A person who overspends on restaurants, travel and fun stuff often wants to live in the moment and seek new adventures and change; a saver hoping to buy a house some day may most value stability, family and community. Money conflict can be a barometer for the health of your relationship and an indicator that the two of you are out of sync on some of your most fundamental values.

David Olson, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota, studied 21,000 couples and identified five questions you can ask to find out if you are financially compatible with your partner.

1. We agree on how to spend money.

2. I don’t have any concerns about how my partner handles money.

3. I am satisfied with our decisions about savings.

4. Major debts are not a problem

5. Making financial decisions is not difficult.

Dr. Olson found that the happiest couples were those who both agreed with at least four of the statements. He also found that couples who did not see eye to eye on three or more of the statements were more likely to score low on overall marital happiness. Debt tends to be the biggest culprit in marital conflict. It can be an overwhelming source of worry and stress. As a result, couples who can focus on money problems and reduce their debt may discover that they have also solved most of their marital problems.

Here’s some parting advice for managing your money and your relationship:

Be honest about your spending: It’s surprisingly common for two people in a relationship to lie about how they spend their money, usually because they know it’s a sore point for their partner. Researchers call it “financial infidelity,” and when it’s discovered, it represents a serious breach of trust in the relationship. Surveys suggest secret spending occurs in one out of three committed relationships. Shopping for clothes, spending money on a hobby and gambling are the three most-cited types of secret spending that causes conflict in a relationship.

Maintain some financial independence: While two people in a relationship need to be honest with each other about how they spend their money, it’s a good idea for both sides to agree that each person has his or her own discretionary pot of money to spend on whatever they want. Whether it’s a regular manicure, clothes shopping, a great bottle of wine or a fancy new bike — the point is that just because you have different priorities as a family doesn’t mean you can’t occasionally feed your personal indulgences. The key is to agree on the amount of discretionary money you each have and then stay quiet when your partner buys the newest iPhone just because.

Invest in the relationship. When you do have money to spend, spend it on the relationship. Take a trip, go to dinner, see a show. Spending money on new and shared experiences is a good investment in your partnership.

CHILDREN

One of the more uncomfortable findings of relationship science is the negative effect children can have on previously happy couples. Despite the popular notion that children bring couples closer, several studies have shown that relationship satisfaction and happiness typically plummet with the arrival of the first baby.

One study from the University of Nebraska College of Nursing looked at marital happiness in 185 men and women. Scores declined starting in pregnancy, and remained lower as the children reached 5 months and 24 months. Other studies show that couples with two children score even lower than couples with one child.

While having a child clearly makes parents happy, the financial and time constraints can add stress to a relationship. After the birth of a child, couples have only about one-third the time alone together as they had when they were childless, according to researchers from Ohio State.

Here’s the good news: A minority of couples with children — about 20 percent — manage to stay happy in their relationships despite the kids.

What’s their secret? Top three predictors of a happy marriage among parents

1. Sexual Intimacy

2. Commitment

3. Generosity

So there you have it. The secret to surviving parenthood is to have lots of sex, be faithful and be generous toward your partner. In this case, generosity isn’t financial — it’s about the sharing, caring and kind gestures you make toward your partner every day. When you are trying to survive the chaos of raising kids, it’s the little things — like bringing your partner coffee, offering to pick up the dry cleaning or do the dishes, that can make all the difference in the health of your relationship.

HOW  TO ​PROTECT YOUR RELATIONSHIP.


1. Avoid Opportunity. In one survey, psychologists at the University of Vermont asked 349 men and women in committed relationships about sexual fantasies. Fully 98 percent of the men and 80 percent of the women reported having imagined a sexual encounter with someone other than their partner at least once in the previous two months. The longer couples were together, the more likely both partners were to report such fantasies.

But there is a big difference between fantasizing about infidelity and actually following through. The strongest risk factor for infidelity, researchers have found, exists not inside the marriage but outside: opportunity.

For years, men have typically had the most opportunities to cheat thanks to long hours at the office, business travel and control over family finances. But today, both men and women spend late hours at the office and travel on business. And even for women who stay home, cellphones, e-mail and instant messaging appear to be allowing them to form more intimate relationships outside of their marriages. As a result, your best chance at fidelity is to limit opportunities that might allow you to stray. Committed men and women avoid situations that could lead to bad decisions — like hotel bars and late nights with colleagues.

2. Plan Ahead for Temptation. Men and women can develop coping strategies to stay faithful to a partner.

A series of unusual studies led by John Lydon, a psychologist at McGill University in Montreal, looked at how people in a committed relationship react in the face of temptation. In one study, highly committed married men and women were asked to rate the attractiveness of people of the opposite sex in a series of photos. Not surprisingly, they gave the highest ratings to people who would typically be viewed as attractive.

Later, they were shown similar pictures and told that the person was interested in meeting them. In that situation, participants consistently gave those pictures lower scores than they had the first time around.

When they were attracted to someone who might threaten the relationship, they seemed to instinctively tell themselves, “He’s not so great.” “The more committed you are,” Dr. Lydon said, “the less attractive you find other people who threaten your relationship.”

Other McGill studies confirmed differences in how men and women react to such threats. In one, attractive actors or actresses were brought in to flirt with study participants in a waiting room. Later, the participants were asked questions about their relationships, particularly how they would respond to a partner’s bad behavior, like being late and forgetting to call.

Men who had just been flirting were less forgiving of the hypothetical bad behavior, suggesting that the attractive actress had momentarily chipped away at their commitment. But women who had been flirting were more likely to be forgiving and to make excuses for the man, suggesting that their earlier flirting had triggered a protective response when discussing their relationship.

“We think the men in these studies may have had commitment, but the women had the contingency plan — the attractive alternative sets off the alarm bell,” Dr. Lydon said. “Women implicitly code that as a threat. Men don’t.”

The study also looked at whether a person can be trained to resist temptation. The team prompted male students who were in committed dating relationships to imagine running into an attractive woman on a weekend when their girlfriends were away. Some of the men were then asked to develop a contingency plan by filling in the sentence “When she approaches me, I will __________ to protect my relationship.”

Because the researchers ethically could not bring in a real woman to act as a temptation, they created a virtual-reality game in which two out of four rooms included subliminal images of an attractive woman. Most of the men who had practiced resisting temptation stayed away from the rooms with attractive women; but among men who had not practiced resistance, two out of three gravitated toward the temptation room.

Of course, it’s a lab study, and doesn’t really tell us what might happen in the real world with a real woman or man tempting you to stray from your relationship. But if you worry you might be vulnerable to temptation on a business trip, practice resistance by reminding yourself the steps you will take to avoid temptation and protect your relationship.

3. Picture Your Beloved. We all know that sometimes the more you try to resist something — like ice cream or a cigarette — the more you crave it. Relationship researchers say the same principle can influence a person who sees a man or woman who is interested in them. The more you think about resisting the person, the more tempting he or she becomes. Rather than telling yourself “Be good. Resist,” the better strategy is to start thinking about the person you love, how much they mean to you and what they add to your life. Focus on loving thoughts and the joy of your family, not sexual desire for your spouse — the goal here is to damp down the sex drive, not wake it up.

4. Keep Your Relationship Interesting.

Scientists speculate that your level of commitment may depend on how much a partner enhances your life and broadens your horizons — a concept that Dr. Aron, the Stony Brook psychology professor, calls “self-expansion.”

To measure this quality, couples are asked a series of questions: How much does your partner provide a source of exciting experiences? How much has knowing your partner made you a better person? How much do you see your partner as a way to expand your own capabilities?

The Stony Brook researchers conducted experiments using activities that stimulated self-expansion. Some couples were given mundane tasks, while others took part in a silly exercise in which they were tied together and asked to crawl on mats, pushing a foam cylinder with their heads. The study was rigged so the couples failed the time limit on the first two tries, but just barely made it on the third, resulting in much celebration.

Couples were given relationship tests before and after the experiment. Those who had taken part in the challenging activity posted greater increases in love and relationship satisfaction than those who had not experienced victory together.The researchers theorize that

couples who explore new places and try new things will tap into feelings of self-expansion, lifting their level of commitment.

​REIGNITE ROMANCE

REIGNITE ROMANCE


Romantic love has been called a “natural addiction” because it activates the brain’s reward center — notably the dopamine pathways associated with drug addiction, alcohol and gambling. But those same pathways are also associated with novelty, energy, focus, learning, motivation, ecstasy and craving. No wonder we feel so energized and motivated when we fall in love!

But we all know that romantic, passionate love fades a bit over time, and (we hope) matures into a more contented form of committed love. Even so, many couples long to rekindle the sparks of early courtship. But is it possible?

The relationship researcher Arthur Aron, a psychology professor who directs the Interpersonal Relationships Laboratory at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, has found a way. The secret? Do something new and different — and make sure you do it together. New experiences activate the brain’s reward system, flooding it with dopamine and norepinephrine. These are the same brain circuits that are ignited in early romantic love. Whether you take a pottery class or go on a white-water rafting trip, activating your dopamine systems while you are together can help bring back the excitement you felt on your first date. In studies of couples, Dr. Aron has found that partners who regularly share new experiences report greater boosts in marital happiness than those who simply share pleasant but familiar experiences.

DIAGNOSE YOUR PASSION LEVEL

The psychology professor Elaine Hatfield has suggested that the love we feel early in a relationship is different than what we feel later. Early on, love is “passionate,” meaning we have feelings of intense longing for our mate. Longer-term relationships develop “companionate love,” which can be described as a deep affection, and strong feelings of commitment and intimacy.

Where does your relationship land on the spectrum of love? The Passionate Love Scale, developed by Dr. Hatfield, of the University of Hawaii, and Susan Sprecher, a psychology and sociology professor at Illinois State University, can help you gauge the passion level of your relationship. Once you see where you stand, you can start working on injecting more passion into your partnership. Note that while the scale is widely used by relationship researchers who study love, the quiz is by no means the final word on the health of your relationship. Take it for fun and let the questions inspire you to talk to your partner about passion. After all, you never know where the conversation might lead.

How to Have a Better Relationship


Can you spot a good relationship? Of course nobody knows what really goes on between any couple, but decades of scientific research into love, sex and relationships have taught us that a number of behaviors can predict when a couple is on solid ground or headed for troubled waters. Good relationships don’t happen overnight. They take commitment, compromise, forgiveness and most of all — effort. Keep reading for the latest in relationship science, fun quizzes and helpful tips to help you build a stronger bond with your partner.

Love and Romance

Falling in love is the easy part. The challenge for couples is how to rekindle the fires of romance from time to time and cultivate the mature, trusting love that is the hallmark of a lasting relationship.

WHAT’S YOUR LOVE STYLE?

When you say “I love you,” what do you mean?

Terry Hatkoff, a California State University sociologist, has created a love scale that identifies six distinct types of love found in our closest relationships.

Romantic: Based on passion and sexual attraction

Best Friends: Fondness and deep affection

Logical: Practical feelings based on shared values, financial goals, religion etc.

Playful: Feelings evoked by flirtation or feeling challenged

Possessive: Jealousy and obsession

Unselfish: Nurturing, kindness, and sacrifice

Researchers have found that the love we feel in our most committed relationships is typically a combination of two or three different forms of love. But often, two people in the same relationship can have very different versions of how they define love. Dr. Hatkoff gives the example of a man and woman having dinner. The waiter flirts with the woman, but the husband doesn’t seem to notice, and talks about changing the oil in her car. The wife is upset her husband isn’t jealous. The husband feels his extra work isn’t appreciated.

What does this have to do with love? The man and woman each define love differently. For him, love is practical, and is best shown by supportive gestures like car maintenance. For her, love is possessive, and a jealous response by her husband makes her feel valued.

Understanding what makes your partner feel loved can help you navigate conflict and put romance back into your relationship. You and your partner can take the Love Style quiz from Dr. Hatkoff and find out how each of you defines love. If you learn your partner tends toward jealousy, make sure you notice when someone is flirting with him or her. If your partner is practical in love, notice the many small ways he or she shows love by taking care of everyday needs.