Growing Together Instead of Growing Apart
While it can be common to worry about growing apart as your life and relationship evolve, there are active steps you can take to help you grow together.

While it can be common to worry about growing apart as your life and relationship evolve, there are active steps you can take to help you grow together.

Relationships can be tricky. While finding a suitable romantic partner can be complicated in and of itself, the struggle doesn’t stop the moment you meet your match. In fact, the longer you’re with the same partner, the more likely it is you’ll encounter new and unusual issues you hadn’t anticipated. One common problem for long-term couples is growing apart as the years go on. Though a common fear for many, there are many simple ways to focus your efforts and learn to grow together and strengthen your existing bond instead.

Spend Time Alone

When you first meet a potential romantic partner, it can compel you to want to spend each and every moment with this person. As the years go on and your relationship grows, you begin to take the other person for granted in subtle ways. Sitting around the house together and staring at your phones might seem like you are spending time together, but you’re technically just occupying the same space at the same time. To keep your relationship strong, there must be a concerted effort to spend meaningful time with each other.

Life is going to take you both in very different directions, and it is important to find activities you enjoy doing alone, or without your partner. However, if you don’t actively dedicate time in your schedule to each other, your relationship will start to fizzle away. Sit down together on a weekly basis and have a “check-in” about your week. This creates an excuse to talk to each other about work, school, or whatever activities you take part in separately. Having a vested interest in your partner’s life helps to reduce the odds of distance growing between you.

Fight When You Need To Fight

Many people have strong reactions about whether or not fights are healthy in a relationship. While newer couples tend to shy away from arguments, studies have shown that a bit of fighting can be incredibly helpful for relationships of all types. While you definitely don’t want to argue over every little thing, a fight is an opportunity to work through an issue that is bothering you. When you constantly avoid arguments because you fear they will upset the peace, you’re really shoving down your emotions until they explode out of you in less healthy ways.

One key to understanding arguments is learning how to admit your mistakes. Saying “I’m sorry” is definitely key, but an empty apology is about as useful as a toothbrush with no bristles. Don’t apologize just to end an argument. Instead, take a look at what your partner is pointing out and try to own whatever issues are being addressed. The more you both acknowledge each other’s frustrations, the easier it is to find meaningful solutions for the future to help lower the odds of the same issue repeating time and time again.

Work Together

The healthiest relationships are typically made up of two people who know how to work together for a common goal. Sadly, there are plenty of circumstances in which you might feel your partner is not in your corner and vice versa. During these moments, it is crucial to remind yourself that your significant other is not your enemy. Though you might not see eye to eye, you need to think about what matters in the moment. At the end of the day, all successful relationships consist of two individuals who know how to work together.

No matter how long you have been with your significant other, growing apart can be a very real concern at any stage of your relationship. To avoid drifting from the person you love, you must take active steps to spend more meaningful time together. By making this effort to connect, you can reduce the odds of the passage of time pushing you farther away from each other.

Be a More Supportive Partner With These Suggestions
Being a supportive partner is an integral part of any relationship, but it is important to understand your partner's personality to best help them.

Being a supportive partner is an integral part of any relationship, but it is important to understand your partner’s personality to best help them.

Whether you’re casually dating someone or have been married for many years, properly supporting your significant other is the key to any healthy relationship. Since support can take many forms, some people struggle when it comes to providing exactly what their partners need. The first step toward success is approaching support from an angle your partner will respond well to. Some people take unsolicited advice as an attack, and others feel neglected when a partner doesn’t engage at all when input is needed. In addition to knowing and understanding your partner’s personality, there are several simple ways to be supportive.

Talk About the Future

Providing advice to someone who doesn’t ask for it can sometimes be annoying because the one giving the advice is assuming what the other needs. A great way to avoid this is by having a conversation about the future. Focus on specifics like career goals or whatever larger ambitions your partner might have. This can provide you with the context you need to offer more useful advice in the future. Engaging with your partner and asking important questions can help him or her feel like someone cares about the answers.

Add Some Supportive Observations

While listening to what your partner has to say is always an amazing way to be supportive, there are going to come times when your observational skills are going to prove handy. For example, your significant other might have a life goal of writing a novel. However, you might notice that he or she never actually spends any time writing. Armed with knowledge of your partner’s goals, you can gently suggest that he or she focus more on sitting down and getting the book started.

Interestingly, you may observe traits or patterns that your partner is not fully aware of. Maybe he or she loves to tinker with gadgets and is very talented at understanding how a device works. If this is the case, you can point out what you’ve observed and potentially make your partner aware that he or she could easily consider a new career path or hobby based around these skills.

Don’t Go Crazy

Some people love to offer suggestions to friends and relatives when asked. Of course, there is such a thing as too much advice. Even when your partner asks for assistance, you don’t want to come down too hard or offer an entire array of ideas. This is an easy way to overwhelm your significant other. Pay attention to how he or she is responding when you bring a suggestion to the table. If it seems like your ideas are making the situation worse, take a step back and allow your partner space to figure things out without influence.

Bad Decisions

Watching someone you love make a bad decision can be really difficult. While you need to trust that your partner has his or her own best interests in mind, there are times to speak up and stop a bad idea before it starts. For example, your partner might have had a difficult time with alcohol in the past. When he or she decides to get a late-night gig working at a bar, this would be a good time to speak up and start a conversation about why you feel this might be problematic.

Relationships are often incredibly tricky, and there are no clear-cut answers for all of the many issues you’re likely to encounter in the future. Still, being a supportive partner who engages in healthy ways can make a world of difference. Learn what works best for your relationship and you will have an easier time discovering the most practical ways of showing support to the person you’re building your life with.

How To Express Gratitude in Your Relationship
Valentine's Day provides the perfect opportunity to reconnect with your partner, express gratitude, and strengthen your relationship.

Valentine’s Day provides the perfect opportunity to reconnect with your partner, express gratitude, and strengthen your relationship.

The longer you’ve been in a relationship, the more likely it is you are taking your partner for granted. This is common with all connections, from romantic to familial. Still, a failure to appreciate your significant other can lead to lasting ramifications. It is important to express gratitude to your partner whenever possible. If you’re trying to get better at this task, now is the perfect time to consider some new ideas. Look over these tips and learn how you can show proper gratitude and strengthen your relationship.

Say It

Perhaps the easiest option available to you is simply telling your partner you are grateful. When you aren’t someone who expresses these sentiments often, the act of stating your appreciation can have a big impact. Still, many people believe actions speak louder than words. While saying it can be a good start, you also might find it beneficial to look at additional ways to nail the point home. A small gift or card can be a nice token of affection that adds an extra emotional kick to your attempt at expressing appreciation.

Talk Your Partner Up

Gratitude goes beyond simply saying it to the person you are thankful for. You also want to let the world know how much you appreciate what your partner does for you in your relationship. The more you get in the habit of talking your partner up to friends and family members, the more likely it is your significant other will be viewed favorably by the people who matter to you. What’s more, your kind words are likely to get back to your partner’s ears and provide a nice boost of confidence.

Keep the Romance Alive in Your Relationship

Falling into a routine with your partner is an easy way to allow bad habits to take control. After living together for years, you might feel like the romance in your relationship is dwindling. When you’re looking to show some appreciation, there are few ideas as invigorating as taking your significant other out for a night on the town. A date night involving a meal, a movie, and some dancing can be a wonderful way to break free of your routine and engage with each other the way you did when you first met.

Adjust Your Behavior

You might feel appreciation within, but it stands to reason your behavior does not always show it. When you’re in a bad or low mood, you might take it out on your significant other in small ways. If this happens, your partner might feel he or she did something to upset you. To keep showing gratitude when you’re in a foul mood, be sure to check yourself and adjust your behavior. Thank your partner for being there, and talk about what’s really bothering you to avoid a pointless confrontation.

Do the Work

You and your partner may split the responsibilities related to maintaining your home. One way to show appreciation that is sure to have a positive impact is taking on some of the chores your partner normally handles. When your significant other comes home and discovers the kitchen is already clean and sparkling, it can bring about a sense of joy that is hard to beat. Plus, your partner will likely be impressed you took on the responsibility without being prompted.

Engage in Physical Intimacy

Finally, never turn your nose up at the power of a gentle kiss on the cheek. Studies have shown most people feel appreciated when there is some type of physical affection involved. A loving hand on the shoulder or kiss when you’re about to leave for work is an easy way to keep the connection you share strong. Plus, it always feels nice when your partner wants to touch you in a comforting way.

To make your relationship work, you need to show gratitude. Think about these ways of expressing your thankfulness to improve your relationship.

Handling Fights With Your Significant Other
Relationships are far from easy. Getting through difficult periods of strife is all about learning the right way to handle fights.

Relationships are far from easy. Getting through difficult periods of strife is all about learning the right way to handle fights.

Relationships are far from easy. While some might be simpler for you to manage than others, all of the connections you share with friends and family members need to be tended to every now and again. One of the most important bonds you share in life is with your significant other. Fights can disrupt the normal routine of a couple and sour plenty of experiences before the issue is resolved. Getting through difficult periods of strife is all about learning the right way to handle a fight.

There are several actions you should avoid when arguing with your partner. Consider these tips and discover how you can keep your fights to a minimum and civil all the while.

Respect Is Everything

Showing proper respect to your significant other is important when you want your relationship to stay healthy. Of course, this is not always easy. When you are in the middle of fights, you may not remember how crucial respect can be. The worst thing you can do is willingly and consciously show disrespect during a fight. Remember that every person has a different way of handling stress and coping with an argument. Respect your partner’s process, and it will be easier to find a resolution.

The Stakes Aren’t That High

Fighting has a way of making everything seem extreme. When you’ve been with your partner for long enough, you start to argue over the dumbest topics. Sometimes, you may even have the same point of view but are arguing anyway. When tensions are high, many people assume the stakes are also high. This creates an “all or nothing” mentality that can destroy your relationship by making it seem like any little fight is a cause for throwing your relationship away. Luckily, taking a step back before reacting can help you gain some perspective on the matter.

Let Go of Fights

Nothing is worse in a fight than when your significant other slings something at you from the past. Though plenty of couples “keep score” and hold to past transgressions, this is a very unhealthy habit. Throwing something at your partner from the past means those wounds were never healed. It is important to address topics that bother you as soon as possible, or else you may end up in a situation where you are constantly fighting over the same things.

Learn To Listen

A big mistake couples make frequently during fights is to fail to hear what the other is saying. When you both have a lot to get off your chests, you both need to hear each other. If you only argue your point of view and wait for your turn to speak, then you won’t be able to resolve any of the issues being brought up. Listening is a skill many people lack, so do your best to focus and put your emotions to the side as you do.

Find a Resolution

You may also find that many of your fights feel like they are going in circles. This is because plenty of couples constantly go back to the root of what caused the argument. While it is important to address the cause, you need to move past this and focus more on the resolution. How will you move forward, and what changes will each of you make? Thinking about the resolution will help you avoid an endless cycle of arguing the same points.

Relationships require a lot of work. No matter how strong the bond you share with your partner might be, you are going to argue now and again. What matters is how you move through the conflict. Take time to learn sensible ways of handling your fights, and see how you can use each disagreement as a way to strengthen your union for the future.

Gifts of Love: Little Ways To Make Your Significant Other Feel Special
Get into the habit of making your significant other feel special whenever you have the opportunity by giving small gifts, gestures, and tokens of love.

Get into the habit of making your significant other feel special whenever you have the opportunity by giving small gifts, gestures, and tokens of love.

It is no secret that marriage takes a lot of work. What many people don’t seem to realize is how the seeds need to be planted early in the relationship in order for love to continuously bloom. Flowery metaphors aside, you want to get into the habit of making your significant other feel special whenever you have the opportunity. There are little tokens of affection, gestures, and gifts of love you can work into your interactions with your partner that are sure to keep the fire burning between you throughout your engagement and long into your marriage.

Whether you are currently planning for your wedding or you haven’t begun to discuss the engagement yet, it can be useful to explore different ways to brighten your significant other’s day. Check out these suggestions and see which ideas might help you in your quest.

Daily Routine

Living with your partner before marriage is a great way to put your relationship to the test. Whether you have had dozens of roommates in the past or your significant other is the first person you’ve cohabitated with, the experience can push you to the edge. Of course, once the growing pains have worn off, you will be able to figure out how to work in synchronicity. If you want to make your partner feel special, be sure to take note of his or her daily routine.

Is coffee the first thing your significant other needs upon waking? Help start the day off right by getting up a little bit earlier and making a gift of fresh coffee. Does your partner hate doing laundry? Offer to do it after a long day and watch a scowl turn into a smile. These gestures are small, but they can go a long way to keep a relationship alive. Domestic life tends to be boring and repetitive, so look at ways you can infuse how much you love your partner into these tasks.

Literal Gifts

Relationships are often built around gifts. Culturally speaking, the act of giving a partner a gift has been practiced for countless centuries. These days, some people tend to ask for more than others when it comes to receiving presents. Showering your partner with all sorts of lavish gifts is probably not the best idea, nor is it a financially sensible move for most people to make. Still, little things here and there can go a long way to show you were thinking about your partner.

These gifts can be something like a specific item your significant other has been eyeing or some small surprise you grab at the store on your way home from work. A candy bar might not cost much, but you can definitely turn someone’s day around by showing up with one at the right moment. Presents are common early in a relationship and during birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries. Surprise your partner by giving him a present when he least expects it, and he’s likely to feel loved. 

Whisper Words of Wisdom 

Finally, words can go a long way. There are going to come times in your relationship when you and your partner are not going to see a lot of each other. Demanding work schedules and obligations can make it so you only get a few hours together a week. When this happens, you want to keep your communication open. Send a text every now and then to check in or share something sweet or funny. Try to avoid only contacting your partner when you need something, and it will do wonders to show how much you care.

Practicing little rituals and exchanging various kinds of gifts with your significant other can help both of you to feel loved and supported throughout your relationship. When you get into these habits early enough, it will be much easier for you to approach married life with confidence.

The Importance of Reading to Children
Mother with her daughters reading a book at home.

Reading to children has so many benefits that will help them to develop.

Do you remember the movie, “Three Men and a Baby?” There’s a scene in the movie where Tom Selleck’s character is reading a sports article to the baby. He says something to the effect of, “It doesn’t matter what you read to a child. Reading is beneficial to the development of a child.” Most people know that reading to children is fundamental for academic excellence. However, there are a number of other benefits of reading to toddlers and preschool-age children:

  • Children have a stronger relationship with the reader. Cuddling up while sharing a good book keeps you in touch with each other.
  • It promotes basic speech skills. It reinforces speech and language sounds.
  • Children who have books read to them have better ways of expressing themselves. They can relate to how the characters of a book talk to each other and can use those skills in their own relationships.
  • It teaches children how to read a book. No one is born with an innate knowledge of reading left to right.
  • Toddlers learn to increase their attention spans through with books. Even though many children squirm when they start out with story time, as you practice reading to them, they’ll find more discipline to sit still and enjoy the story.
  • Reading also helps children adjust to new experiences. A story about starting school to a child who is anxious about going to school all day helps a child see that he or she isn’t the only one who is scared.
  • It can also expand a child’s vocabulary.

In a 2014 study out of Harvard University, it was discovered that when dads read to children, especially girls, there is an even bigger benefit than when moms read to children. Additionally, men tend to be more abstract when talking about what they’re reading. For example, a woman approaches reading very factually. An example might include a mom asking a child, “How many blue fish do you see?” Men ask questions that challenge the child’s brain. For instance, a dad might say, “Look. Do you see the bus? Remember when we rode the bus to go to the zoo?”

Teenagers Benefit From Reading, Too

Preschool children aren’t the only ones who need to be engaged in reading. Once your child begins junior high and high school, reading a book out loud is very beneficial to development and cognitive thinking skills. You may have to be crafty at first, because your teenager may see the practice as childish. Start out with short articles from the newspaper or magazines, or maybe some poetry that you enjoy. Read during a meal time, then discuss it.

Take advantage of car rides. Listen to an audiobook that your children might enjoy. Listen to one chapter, then turn it off. You might be able to read something to your child when he or she is loading a dishwasher or doing another chore. Use the moments when you have a captive audience. Choose adventure stories that keep a child engaged from the very first chapter. Limit reading time to one chapter a night, kind of like Scheherazade. Ask your local librarian for books that fit your child’s interests and age level. Read biographies of people who did great things.

Most pediatricians recommend that a child’s screen time be limited. It’s very difficult to keep children from watching television or using their smartphones. You have to give them an alternative activity to make it feel like a privilege instead of a punishment. Reading can be this activity. Model good reading skills to your child, and help him or her find worlds that can only be imagined in words. You may not immediately see the benefits, but years later, your children will thank you.