4 Reasons Why Date Nights Matter

The holiday season is a great time to spend building memories as a family, but don’t forget to also take time for a one-on-one date with your sweetheart too! While it can be a challenge to make arrangements or take the time to get away together research has shown that having date nights can strengthen your relationship in the following ways:

  1. Time to talk can provide opportunities to reconnect and discover your partner’s newest interests and dreams.
  2. Having fun together. Date nights provide an opportunity to get out of the routine, build happy memories and rekindle the spark that can help to sustain couples through the tough times.
  3. Strengthen commitment. Setting aside time to go on a date demonstrates your commitment to each other and sets an important example to children or others that you value your relationship.
  4. Stress relief. Date nights allow couples to enjoy time together apart from the pressing concerns of ordinary life.

In order to make the most of your time together consider the following tips:

  • Make an effort to plan your date in advance, and if needed budget so you can put money towards some nice evenings out. For ideas on what to do for your date, check out the blog post 10 Tips for Romance on a Budget livewellutah.org.
  • Make an effort to look your best by wearing something special for your date together (clothing, cologne, jewelry, etc.).
  • Get ready to music that pumps you up! When you’re listening to music you enjoy, you’ll begin to feel good and radiate positive energy.
  • Give compliments. Compliment yourself and your spouse to build self-esteem.
  • Make the car ride special. Use the time driving to get to know your partner better and discover their current hopes, dreams, and interests.

The research and information was provided by Naomi Brower

For more information see “The Date Night Opportunity” by Brad Wilcox and Jeff Dew found at http://nationalmarriageproject.org/wordpress/

Reconnecting in Relationships

 

We all have challenges even in our closest relationships. In fact, most relationships have about 12 things that they disagree on at any one time. Twelve!!! But what’s more important than those struggles are the things we do to build our relationship and to reconnect. When we focus on the things that are going right in our relationships, we can more easily conquer the struggles we may be facing as a team. So how do we reconnect and build a stronger relationship?  Consider the following “three L’s and a T.”

Look at your partner

We see those we love almost every day but when was the last time you looked at them deep in their eyes and really connected with them? Try this, look in your partner’s eyes for about 30 seconds, really pay attention to their expressions, and be in the moment with them. Look at the person as a whole, for who they really are, and not just what you might be hurt or frustrated about.   When we really connect with someone, we feel it deep inside and it also literally stimulates our brain, not to mention helping us to feel closer to our partner!

Laugh with your partner

When we were kids we laughed 200 to 300 times a day but the average adult may only average 12 to 14 times per day! When we lose humor in our relationship, we may get too wound up and lose sight of the bigger picture and being able to see humor in one another and in challenging moments. For good mental health, it’s a good idea to get five belly laughs a day. So, turn on your silliness and dance around the kitchen or find ways to make each other laugh! It’s not only good for your own health but also strengthens your relationship.

Listen to your partner every day

 Sometimes we think we are being good listeners but in reality, we are more rejecting then we are receiving of our partner. Often times listening is about seeking connection with someone rather than having someone share advice or solve problems. Even if we ask for advice, we are often just seeking to be understood and validated.  So, the next time your partner is sharing their thoughts with you, listen very carefully to what your partner is sharing, not just to the words but why it is important to them.

Touch daily

 Physical touch is good for our health! Shoot for five hugs a day. Many of these will probably be from your partner, but they can also be from kids or others that are close to you. Touch could also be in the form of holding your partner’s hand while watching TV, giving them a kiss hello or goodbye, or touching them on the shoulder or hair as you walk by just to let them know that you acknowledge them. When we touch someone, we let them know that they are important to us and it builds our relationship.

By practicing these “three L’s and a T” on a daily basis we exercise our relationship muscles so that we continue to grow together rather than letting our relationship atrophy. Reconnecting with your partner doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money, but making some investments every day can make a huge difference in your relationship and your general happiness and satisfaction in life!


Research provided by Naomi Brower

Based on personal communication with Doug Nielsen, psychotherapist and speaker, www.dougspeaks.com

 

Service: The Gift that Gives Back

The holiday season is full of opportunities to give of ourselves and serve those around us. We see dozens of fundraisers for different organizations, participate in drives of every sort, offer to carol at assisted living facilities, serve meals in soup kitchens, buy secret Santa gifts for needy children, and much more. Obviously, the intent is to help either those we love or even complete strangers. But the incredible part of service is that it gives back. Jill Suttie and Jason Marsh published an article on the benefits of giving in UC Berkeley’s “Greater Good Magazine.” They shared various ways that scientists and researchers have found evidence of benefits to those who serve and give of themselves.

1. Giving increases our happiness

In a study done by Jorge Moll and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health in 2006 found that “when people give to charities, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect.” Many scientists also believe that altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the “helper’s high.”

2. Giving is good for our health

In another study done by Rachel Piferi of Johns Hopkins University and Kathleen Lawler of the University of Tennessee in 2006 found that “people who provided social support to others had lower blood pressure than participants who didn’t, suggesting a direct physiological benefit to those who give of themselves.” Other research has been done that shows that service reduces stress and promotes better health.

3. Giving puts our own challenges into perspective

In his book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years,” Donald Miller tells the story of his friend Jason and how their family was changed by giving. Jason and his wife were concerned about their 13-year old daughter who had recently started dating a boy they didn’t approve of. She never came home on time and was always away with her boyfriend who smelled like smoke and showed little respect for her. They had found drugs hidden in her closet and could see that she was pulling away from their family. They had tried everything they could think of to reach her, but anything they did only pushed her further away. Jason began researching about an organization that builds orphanages in Mexico and decided that he would contact them and see what it would take to raise the money to help build one. When he presented the idea to his family, they were initially upset because it would mean financial sacrifices on their part. However, after a while, they started to get excited about it and soon the family was working together to raise funds for an orphanage and planning to go and help build it together. When recounting the story, Jason shared that the experience truly changed his family. Their relationships improved, and they felt more peace in their home. He also admitted that the most amazing part was seeing the change in his daughter. She broke up with her boyfriend, turned her life around, and got lost in service. He explained, “no girl who plays the role of a hero dates a guy who uses her. She knows who she is. She just forgot for a little while.”

Now most of us probably won’t be able to go out and build orphanages in third world countries, but the principle is still the same. When we focus on serving and giving to others, we can get outside of ourselves and our own problems enough to put them into perspective. We gain confidence and find purpose in lifting and helping those around us. So, this holiday season, let’s focus on taking advantage of the small opportunities to give of ourselves and what we have. Hopefully, it can start a life-long habit that will improve the quality of our own life as well as those around us. For, in the words of Francis of Assisi, “It is in giving that we receive.”


This research and information was provided by Samantha Marshall

References:

Miller, D. (2009). A million miles in a thousand years. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson.

Suttie, J. & Marsh, J. (2010). Five ways giving is good for you. Greater Good Magazine. Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/5_ways_giving_is_ good_for_you

Staying Connected

Family researcher and psychologist, John Gottman, Ph.D. suggests that small emotional connections between partners add up to big-time relationship satisfaction. He compares them to making steady deposits in a bank account and watching your savings grow.

Taking time to make these connections can be challenging in our busy world, and especially during the increasingly busy holiday season. For those of you who would like some creative inspiration, here are some ideas on how to stay connected with your special someone. Pick the ones that work for you. Use them as a starting point to create your own “quick connects.”

  1. Make sure your kisses last at least six seconds. Every now and then go for a full minute.
  2. Write them a love note– on the mirror, in their lunchbox, purse or pocket, or text/e-mail it.
  3. Send funny and/or romantic cards by snail mail or e-mail.
  4. Get silly with each other and laugh out loud together.
  5. Grab your partner for a spontaneous dance when a favorite song comes on the radio or stereo.
  6. Hold hands.
  7. Send a funny photo on your phone.
  8. Ask about each others’ days.
  9. Listen with 100% attention—make eye contact when you talk.
  10. Give a one-minute shoulder or foot massage.
  11. Do something unexpected for your spouse.
  12. Snuggle on the couch.
  13. Touch each other with affection.
  14. Notice and comment about something your spouse does that you like.
  15. Say thank you and you’re welcome.
  16. Be interested in what your spouse is doing. Offer to help.  
  17. Leave a flower or special treat.
  18. Write a poem for your special someone—it’s ok if it’s silly!
  19. Offer to cook dinner if you aren’t the one who usually cooks.
  20. Post photos on the refrigerator or bathroom mirror that remind you of wonderful times you’ve shared.
  21. Offer to take the kids out of the house for a while and give the other parent some alone time.
  22. At night, step outside together for five minutes and look at the stars.
  23. Sing to each other.
  24. Establish a weekly ritual that you faithfully observe. For example, watching a favorite television program, taking a walk after dinner, putting candles on the table.
  25. Watch a sunrise or sunset together.

Try this…

  • Make up your own list of things to do to quickly connect with your spouse.
  • Make sure you do at least one thing from your list every day.

This research and information was provided by Naomi Brower

References:

 Gottman, J.M. & Silver, N. (1999). The seven principles for making marriage work. New York: Crown Publish

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