Category: Healthy Relationships

Skills for happiness in relationships

3 Relationships Skills that will Impact Your Happiness

We’re bombarded with ideas for building happiness in relationships. Media show smiling parents, laughing children, and romantic partners basking in the glow of love.

You don’t have to buy what they are selling. Love and friendship thrive on actions you can learn.

Here are 3 science-based skills that help build happiness in relationships. They can help you move toward more meaningful connections in your life.

  1. Get to know your attachment style
  2. Nurture affection
  3. Develop self-compassion

1) Get to know your attachment style.

We know that parent-child relationships have a huge impact on how we learn to relate. Research on attachment styles explains a lot about why people approach relationships the way they do.

A basic definition of attachment is a deep emotional connection with another person for protection and comfort. An attachment bond can span space and time.

Infants naturally seek someone to attach to for safety and soothing. So do adults.

Based on that first relationship, we learn we can either 1) feel secure, 2) avoid closeness, 3) reject emotional needs, or 4) expect … Come Read the Rest

importance of trust in a relationship

11 Important Signs Of Trust In a Relationship

You could say a close relationship depends on trust.

To feel close, you need to open your inner world — your thoughts and feelings — to another person. You have to trust your partner to care about how you feel and to respond.

As you find your partner cares about you and treats you kindly, you can risk being vulnerable. If you can’t trust your partner to respond to your needs and your relationship well, it’s hard to make love last.

Trust deepens each time a partner makes the other feel seen and accepted. Each time two people turn toward each other emotionally, trust recharges. One person says, in some way, “I need you,” and the other responds, “I’m here.”

Trust can fade too. The more couples emotionally tune out and turn away, the more they risk draining the power of trust from their love, until its strength runs out.

“My guess is that if you do nothing to make things get better in your marriage but do not do anything wrong, the … Come Read the Rest

eye contact in relationships

Love Needs Us to Stop and See What We’re Doing

Eye contact in relationships has a huge impact on making you feel loved.

When love is new, eye contact can be spine-tingling and exhilarating. “When we gaze into each other’s eyes, we are looking at somebody who isn’t predictable. We’re reminded we don’t really know them fully, and that’s exciting,” explains psychologist Stan Tatkin.

Once you know your partner better, you start to predict how your partner looks. You start to assume how he or she is feeling. So you don’t gaze into each other’s eyes as much. Now there’s a danger you’ll stop seeing and feeling seen.

It’s time to look in on the nervous system – specifically, on procedural memory. That’s the brain’s way of ingraining responses along nerve pathways to put certain actions on autopilot. Your brain creates procedural memories, so you can perform complex tasks like walking, with attention to spare.

Daily Life Demands Lots of Doing Without Looking

You probably learned to type, ride a bike, or tie a shoe. At first it takes time to master the … Come Read the Rest

Why putting relationship first is healthy

7 Signs Your Partner Makes Your Relationship a Priority

Modern life puts a great deal of pressure our relationships.

Does this sound like you? You struggle to balance work, family and “me” time. You scramble to keep up with loved ones, friends and colleagues. Maybe you’re juggling childcare, elder care, house care, health concerns or car problems. You wonder when you’ll ever find time for your to-do list.

What about your partner’s wants and needs? How do you let all those emotions in? Do you feel stretched to the breaking point?

Some couples seem to take life’s demands in stride. They seem to draw strength from each other. How do they do it?

A relationship that provides a source strength and support often has a foundation of “us first.”

So what does it mean to “be there for each other” and put the relationship first?

what being there for each other means

What Putting Your Partner First in a Relationship Means

Making your spouse or partner a priority means your partner’s emotional needs are as important as your own.

You make your partnership a place where each person fully Come Read the Rest

Imperfect parent

How You Can Be Imperfect AND be a Great Parent

A huge challenge for parents is knowing how help when children make mistakes. A parent’s support, especially when things don’t go well, fosters the self-worth and self-compassion it takes to learn from what happened.

I recently watched my brother coach his kids on riding new curved walls on their skateboards. There were plenty of spills, and some bruises. The kids were in charge of how many runs they made, and how fast or slow.

Their dad encouraged them, and gave them feedback on technique. You have to experience gravity and momentum, slope and speed to know how they work, right? He stayed present right along side them as they learned.

Parents want to protect their children. So, they often feel the urge to make problems go away. Yet, as children become teens and adults, they often need a safe person to talk to about challenges.  They want support to explore their own solutions. A parent can be a valuable source of strength as a trusted guide, without taking over.

Of course you want to … Come Read the Rest

Parent-child love in the digital age

How to Save Your Parent-Child Connection from Technology

Touch, eye contact, and physical play feel good. They are the building blocks of parent-child connection. What’s more, they nurture our brains, hearts, and disease-fighting systems. They help us build secure relationships.

Many parents see the value of helping children learn to use technology. They want to stay in touch, and help them master important tools. But we need to pay special attention if tech time takes away time spent face-to-face.

We need to mind what we do, because giving our in-person attention to parent-child connection is vital to our mental and physical health.

Secure Attachment Has a Physical Foundation

Did you feel seen and understood as a child? Then you probably feel safe, and expect connection from relationships now. Was your family distracted by work, illness, or relationship problems? Then you may not feel as safe or as confident about being present with others.

We learn how to connect with others from the experience of being with our caregivers. Our main caregiver connection, or parent-child connection is our model for forming self-understanding … Come Read the Rest

emotionally responsive father

How to Boost Confidence in Kids as an Emotionally Engaged Dad

You may have heard that emotionally responsive parents are important to a child’s wellbeing. What does being a good dad look like to you?

Our culture idolizes a tough man who doesn’t crack under pressure. Anger seems to be the most acceptable emotion to show. What did you see growing up?

emotionally responsive fatherSome of us had fathers who told us what to do, and who didn’t tolerate complaints. Some of us never heard male relatives talk about fear, feeling vulnerable, or admitting a mistake. Maybe affection was a bit indirect, and harder to feel.

However, many men today want a much different way to live and relate to loved ones. Often, both parents work to support the family, raise children, and tend to their needs. This often puts men in parenting roles, where they may feel unprepared for the fast-changing emotions of children.

Emotionally engaged dad

Men are perfectly able to make strong, healthy emotional connections.

Thankfully, many men dare to ditch the tough guy stereotype. One of my favorite memories is of my former boss Eric, at … Come Read the Rest

Touch in a Loving Relationship

How Touch Works In a Loving Relationship

How do physical touch and consensual sex help build a healthy relationship?

When you are emotionally uncomfortable with someone and they touch you, what happens? You shrink from them. You may even back away.

It’s only human.

For touch to be welcome, you need to feel safe, physically and emotionally.

In an intimate relationship, physical touch can instill comfort and calm. It is a powerful way to communicate feelings of acceptance, trust, love and belonging.

The touch of someone you don’t like or don’t trust can really make your skin crawl.

What if the person you’re shrinking from is your husband or wife?

The Role of Sex and Touch in A Loving Relationship

Emotional intimacy and sexual intimacy ebbs and flows for all couples.

Sometimes couples enjoy sex for its own sake. They want to feel pleasure  without the emotional attachment.

But without emotional safety, truly satisfying sex doesn’t happen or doesn’t last. Neither does the relationship. It’s not that either partner isn’t sexy enough.

It’s the way we’re wired.

We have a human … Come Read the Rest

healing a relationship after fighting

How to Grow Closer After an Argument: 3 Healing Steps

Injuries happen in all relationships. You can hurt each other even when you didn’t want to. Whether a broken relationship heals or follows a downward spiral depends on how you respond.

Some couples can work through hurts fairly quickly. They talk about what upset them so they both understand what happened. Then they can move on and feel close again.

Other couples feel an unwanted distance growing. They try to talk, but end up fighting instead. Pain and anger grow. That makes it harder to figure out what is broken and heal it quickly. These couples may need some new ideas to get back to feeling close.

Feeling cut off from the love you need can make you desperate. How to fix a broken relationship?

Most Couples Fight Over Losing Their Connection

Dr. Sue Johnson spent her life studying how to fix broken relationships. She found this:  When our need for safe, secure attachment gets denied for too long, we literally freak out. Most couples fight out of panic.

Each person needs to know: … Come Read the Rest

pursuer distancer relationship

How to Understand a Pursuer – Distancer Relationship

Scene from a Pursuer Distancer Relationship:

Partner 1: I wish you would pick up your stuff in the living room.
Partner 2: What? Well, I’ve walked the dog, paid the bills, and worked all day. I can’t get to it.
Partner 1: But it’s your stuff! I don’t want to pick up after you like I’m your mom!
Partner 2: Fine. Go away. Take the dog out. I’ll do it now.
Partner 1: Hey, don’t get mad at me.
Partner 2: Just go!

Silence follows for most of the day.

What happened in this exchange?

Partner 1 needed to feel cared about. This partner pursued it by complaining to Partner 2.

Partner 2 felt overwhelmed, judged as inadequate, and pushed the other partner away. Partner 2 withdrew.

Both feel alone, hurt, and rejected.

In an intimate relationship, you might think the pursue/withdraw (pursuer distancer) pattern would be the exception, not the rule. Committed partners are supposed to care about each other deeply, right?

Who would get angry or turn away at the exact moment … Come Read the Rest