Once the hearts, flowers and chocolates are gone, why do we tend to take the focus off our relationships?
Whether you go all out and decorate for Valentine’s Day or it’s just another day for you, February 14th is a great time to re-evaluate relationships. Are there areas for improvement? Is everyone healthy and happy?
Here are a few resources to keep love alive, 365 days a year.
Communicate effectively with your partner. UGA Family Life Specialist Ted Futris states, “Women and men have occasionally been found to interpret the same messages differently, and these differences in interpretation are often the causes of major conflicts”. Sometimes, I say one thing and my husband hears another. Ensuring that your partner understands what you are trying to communicate and responds, (even if they see it differently) is important. It is also important to listen when your partner communicates with you. I am a different person than I was when I first married. I have changed and so has my husband. We have acknowledged those changes (some have been good for us) only because we communicated openly and honestly about them early on.
According to the Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, “couples in stable marriages maintain at least five times as many positive moments as negative ones on a daily basis”. Between the children, work, planning for retirement and caregiving for an older parent, the appreciation may not always be voiced. Saying, “I appreciate you” can go a long way. Similarly, compliments also serve as positive reinforcements. I have a lot more pep in my step when my husband says; “you look nice today”. Even once in a while thanking your spouse for taking out the trash, cooking dinner or doing other things around the house that may be routine can make them feel good. You can also utilize technology by sending an unexpected selfie. You will be pleased with the response.
Sometimes I feel like we are in the movie Groundhog Day, doing the same things over and over again: chauffeuring children, preparing dinner and watching Jeopardy. Breaking up that monotony can bring new excitement into your relationship. It causes us to view our partners in a different light. On date night, I actually feel like we are dating again because it is just us, minus bills, squabbling children, and the general stresses of life. Try something new together. South Georgia has a number of new restaurants, attractions and parks to visit. For instance, date nights taking painting or cooking classes are increasing in popularity and are quite fun. You get to spend quality time with your partner and make wonderful memories. Look through the entertainment section of your newspaper or the internet to find out more about local events. Sometimes we just select a special TV series or movie to make time to watch together. Just make sure you make time for conversation too!
Laughter is still good medicine. While there are health benefits associated with laughter such as reduction of blood pressure and stress, it can also help your relationship. When I have observed long, happy relationships, I have noticed the common thread of laughter. One of the reasons I truly love my husband is his sense of humor. It has helped us through many stressful, and sometimes awkward, situations.
Love is many a splendored thing but “easy” has never been one of them. It takes a lot of dedication and hard work to make a relationship work, but, with a little effort, you can make it fun and full of interesting new things too.
UGA Extension has many programs available that you might find of interest to you and your family. For more information contact 1.800.1UGA.