Relationship Tonic emphasizes the little things that keep love alive!
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 40: I love you AND (not but)
For years Jason and I fell victim to what I call “half-assed apologies”. We would argue, eventually see the error of our ways (that’s a good thing), and apologize (also a good thing). However, our apologies always began with “I love you BUT…” The … being followed by the original complaint stated in a calmer way. Not surprisingly, this always reignited the argument and we were back to a bad sqaure one. Then one day, we decided to do something different. We decided that post argument, we would kickstart our reunification with “I love you AND…” And it has made a MONUMENTAL difference. You see in the new version, we still get to communicate our love which is important as it offers a sense of reassurance and grounding. We still also get to calmly voice our opinion and position on the situation. What get’s left out though is the feeling that the love is conditional (which in 99% of situations, it isn’t). “And” is a unifying word whereas “But” is a separator so before you choose, think about your goal – to be together or to be separate.
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 39: Go to Bed Angry (Sometimes)
Every couple on their wedding day is told, by at least one veteran married couple, “The key to a happy marriage is to never go to bed angry.” And on your wedding day, in the midst of your warm fuzzy love, you agree implicitly. And then soon enough a fight breaks out at night, perhaps even minutes before you plan to have your head hit the pillow. Reality sets in and that “rule” becomes as antiquated as marrying a virgin – simply, it does not apply to all, or even most. You see, sometimes sleep is just what a couple needs. Sleep allows you to cool off instead of firing back reactively. Sleep allows you to approach your problem with fresh, rested thoughts in the morning instead of over-tired brain at night. Sleep allows you to remember as you turn over as the sun begins to rise, and look at the love of your life with, well, love. And all of these allowances lead to constructive arguing. So sure, of course, if you can work it out before you slumber, that is ideal but if the fiery sparks are still ignited after 10pm, save it for the morning. Trust me, the problem and your SO will still be there.
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 38: Act Cheesy!
Admit it, cheesy acts make you feel good. They make you feel like the doted on star in a romantic comedy. IRL though we often shy away from cheese, afraid that we may appear, well, cheesy. And what’s wrong with that! Nothing. In fact, there is a lot right with it. For starters, like I said, cheesy acts make you feel all sorts of warm and fuzzy inside. Secondly, they show your partner that you care enough to put yourself out there on cheesy lane. And finally, cheesy ignites the love, the romance and more cheese, leading to a cycle of pure ooey, gooey, impenetrable awesome love. So sprinkle flowers on the bed or make a late night radio dedication and get ready to delight in a little relationship cheese power!
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 37: Be Realistic
I’m reading a great book, “Emotional Equations” by Chip Conley. In the book he creates these cool, accessible, sensible equations that illustrate why we feel the way we do. One of the most powerful ones for me, personally is: DISAPPOINTMENT = EXPECTATIONS – REALITY. This simple equation highlighted for me, very LOUDLY why I get disappointed so often by people. I’m working on being more realistic about what I can expect from people. For example, I know that the reality of my husband taking out the trash when I ask him, is slim. Expecting him to be different only frustrates me. On the same accord I know that when I have a certain look in my eye, he knows I need a foot rub and he will drop everything to give it to me. That’s our reality. I choose to it over wishing he’d take out the trash right away. In relationships, you simply MUST be realistic if you want to be happy. People are who they are. Love them and accept them for it. Times change, and feelings do too. Some days they are strong, other days not as much. Ups happen and so do downs. Being realistic doesn’t mean being pessimistic, it means being honest about yourself, your partner and the life that you live in. With realism comes great freedom and many more shared smiles.
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 36: Miss Each Other!
Jason is in Vegas for a few days for a “work” conference. And I miss him! And it feels good to miss him! We spend a lot of time together and for that I am thankful but it is also nice to soak up my alone time and reconnect with me. Plus when he returns, I’ll be hot for him all over again. Relationships need this. We need time-outs, no because things are bad, but to keep things good. So take a weekend to yourself or send your SO out of town for a few days. Trust me, the reunion will be well worth it!
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 35: Don’t Stonewall!
Even the healthiest of couples argue from time and time, and sometimes those arguments escalate to full out fighting. That’s natural. Also what is natural for some people is to not respond – to walk away. In some instances this is actually an effective technique – taking a time out to collect oneself. However, if this behavior, labeled stonewalling by marriage expert John Gottman, becomes habitual, marital destruction ensues. Stonewalling regularly pulls you OUT of the marriage. It offers an exit strategy that consequently avoids solving problems that in turn, not surprisingly, continue to re-emerge. Sustainable relationships require an investment, effort and bravery. Show your relationship it is worth it to you by limiting stonewalling and instead showing up to see conflict through.
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 34: Make Decisions Together
Before I begin, I will admit, this one isn’t easy… especially for anyone who has spent a long time being single. After all, in this day and age, we are raised to be independent thinkers, capable of making decisions on our own. And while that works gorgeously when you are single, that ability can become problematic in relationships. When you make decisions (and I’m talking important ones, not which size latte you want to order) without regard for the other, you send a silent but responding message of disregard. For example, when you arrange couple plans without finding out if your partner is available and/or interested, that is interpreted as not only inconsiderate but the wheels of , “hmmm, maybe this girl is possessive” turning. Take the time to ask before you do. Not only will you strengthen your bonds of respect, you may discover that your original decision isn’t even what you want.
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 33: Spoil each other!
I believe in spoiling those you love, with love. And no, that doesn’t have to mean high-priced gifts wrapped in fancy packages. Spoiling the one that you love is actually ALL about going out of your way to do something nice for your partner that in most cases, he/she wouldn’t do for him/herself… and that isn’t truly necessary. One way that I spoil my husband for example is by picking up his favorite korean dish from the farmer’s market on Tuesdays. Does he need it? Nope. Does he love it when I do? Absolutely. It really is the little things.
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 32: Mirror Messages
My favorite way to express my love and gratitude lately towards Jason is through mirror messages. Using the trashiest red lisptick I could find (you know the one your alter ego would wear!), each morning I scribble a note to him. Sometimes they are sweet, other times funny and still yet other times, naughty He loves them and occasionally, I get a message back!
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 31: Calls, just because!
Life gets busy. Days are long and jam packed with obligations. And in the midst of the day’s chaos it can be easy to forget to acknowledge your loved one. When you do however, distance is created. However, when you take a minute (literally) to send a “thinking about you” text or email, or better yet place a quick call to say, “Hello”, your connection with your partner solidifies. It is a simple gesture that goes a long way, making the recipient feel desired and special. Trust me, it’s worth your cell phone plan minutes
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 30: Establishing Traditions
Traditions are priceless experiences that bind people together forever and create lasting positive memories. Just like you may adore your family’s special holiday rituals, you can grow to love traditions you create between you and your partner. This can be something as simple as taking a walk together to get coffee on Sunday mornings, ordering Chinese food on Saturday nights, or taking the dog for a walk together after the kids go to bed. What you choose isn’t nearly as important as committing to your choice… this is where the power of the bond strikes.
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 29: Volunteer!
When is the last time that you and your honey did something nice for someone else? If it has been awhile, mark your calendar for a day of do-gooding! Whether you spend the day volunteering at a shelter, cleaning up the beach, or even helping an elderly neighbor move furniture, working as a team to brighten someone else’s day, will undoubtedly brighten your own! Plenty of people need your help right NOW and it is so easy to execute a little selfless loving (ex: know a new mom, stock her freezer with dinners for a week; live near a school, ask if you can help teachers grade papers). By doing so, you and your partner will see each other in a more giving light while at the same time realize your individual capacity’s for giving. And of course on top of all that, your efforts will be appreciated!
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 28: Curb your criticism
NO ONE likes to be nitpicked, their every action analyzed and assessed… usually critiqued. If you had a mother or father like this, you know all too well what I’m talking about. And it is a funny thing, even in the most loving relationships, partners can harp on every little imperfect action of their love. On the outside, this may be executed with good intention, i.e. “I’m helping him/her become their best self!” But on the inside of the receiver, it can feel like nails on a chalkboard, slowly eating away at one’s self esteem. So what can you do? Well for starters, make sure you balance out your “constructive criticism” with positive praise. On top of that, every say third thing that bugs you, offer up a silent free pass. Turning a blind eye every once in a while to unsavory behavior can be a relationships lifesaver!
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 27: Splurge!
Bad economy aside, every once in awhile, for relationship sake it is important to SPLURGE! It feels good to indulge in luxurious ways, even if this just means ordering and extra appetizer or some dessert, or going for a buy 1 get 1 free couple’s massage. Splurging doesn’t have to be expensive. It isn’t about how many zeroes are attached to the experience, but rather through the act of going the extra mile. The key is to give beyond what you normally would because your lve is priceless and you want to celebrate it!
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 26: Sleeping On “It”
“Never go to bed angry” has to be the most cliched marriage advice ever. Sure, in a perfect world where every spat can be resolved before your eyes get heavy, this sounds divine. But in the real world where we all live, this advice just doesn’t apply. Sometimes we DO need to sleep on it. Sometimes sleep can clear on mind and our heart to see things the way they need to be seen so that we can actually move forward. If you and your spouse have a fight and it isn’t resolved when the lights go off, that is OK! However, out of respect for each other and the relationship, before you snooze off into dreamland, have a kind goodnight saying something like, “I know we will work this out. I look forward to readdressing this situation when we are renewed tomorrow. I love you.” I guarantee that the problem will still be alive and kicking in the morning, but after a restful night’s sleep you will be better prepared to handle it.
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 25: Accept the Annoyances!
We all have pet peeves. It is normal. But, when you live with someone who constantly peeves you, it can be maddening… for you AND for him. Sure you are constantly bugged by that thing (can we say, toilet seat up?!), but imagine his irritation with you constantly complaining about it. Here’s the hard truth: some things are never going to change. They are called habits and no matter how much you complain, they will remain. He has them and admit it, so do you. One of the most loving things you can do is to finally accept that “thing” and stop complaining about it. Try it for a week and notice how much more peaceful both of you feel.
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 24: Touching!
It has been proven that 8-10 meaningful touches a day helps maintain emotional and physical health. Thus it is safe to say that human touch is essential to our happiness. How much do you touch your spouse? How often do you stroke his arm when talking to him, rub his neck or give him a peck on the cheek? There are so many ways that you can connect with touch that don’t involve a long embrace or a roll in the hay. So commit to being more touchy and feely and your marriage will reap infinite rewards!
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 23: Memory Lane
When is the last time you and your honey took a trip down memory lane? If it has been awhile, you should absolutely, positively make a plan to do so. Traveling to a time when the two of you were likely simpler versions of yourself (before life got complicated: mortgage, kids, etc) can be uniquely reigniting. Reenact the scene of your first date, a favorite early date destination, the place of your proposal or even where you had your first fight. No matter where your travels take you, your union will be refreshed by bathing in the sweetness of the beginning and by renewing your appreciation for the journey that you have taken… all of which will give you enthusiasm for what’s next.
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 22: Empathize
Empathy is a powerful gift to give to a loved one. It is the concept of feeling the other one’s shoes. Relating to their moment and letting them know you are along side for the ride. Simply – that you get whatever their “it” is. The magical thing about expressing empathy is that you don’t actually have to agree with how your partner is feeling – that isn’t the point. The point is that you are hearing/seeing them and they know it; that you care how they feel and they know it. The next time your partner is in pain – be it sad, frustrated, angry, exhausted, simply say, “I can see how (insert feeling) you are.” Instantly, that simply, they will feel comforted.
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 21: Detech!
We live in a tech entrenched world, there is no way around it. But there is a time for technology and there is a time to put it away. When you are with your spouse is a good time to put it away. When you want to be truly engaged in your partner, you need to detech. You need to silence your cell phone, resist the urge to text or check the game score so that you can fully be present for your sweetheart, It may take time to get used to a new ritual of turning tech off when you get home (and maybe weening yourself off is more realistic if you are a true tech junkie), but trust me, the world will live without you for a few hours… and your marriage will benefit infinitely!
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 20: Holding hands
There is great power in holding hands with someone you love. Intertwining fingers allows you to share warmth and exchange energy flow, not to mention hand holding makes you feel secure and adored. As often as you can, hold hands with your partner. If you are watching the news together, hold hands. Taking a stroll through the grocery store, hold hands. Waiting in line at Starbucks, hold hands. There are tons of nerve endings in our fingers and they are far better ignited by the touch of our partner han a draft, a smart phone or plain old pocket lint!
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 19: Agreeing to disagree
One of the greatest lessons that my husband has taught me is that sometimes it is best to agree to disagree. Since you and your partner are not clones of each other, it is inevitable that on occasion, no matter how hard you try to get on the same page, you will not… you will be miles apart. What is important in marriage isn’t that you always agree, but that you can empathize with the feelings of your partner, as well as give them space for independent thinking and feeling. So the next time you and your honey are deeply pitted on opposing sides, think to yourself, it is most important for you to be right, or to be married.
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 18: Curbed criticism
I get it – it can be easy to see your spouse’s faults, and hard to keep them to yourself. Maybe you think your criticism is constructive, but chances are, it ‘s not. Be sure to take the the time each day to highlight what is positive about your hubby, instead of defaulting to what could be better. The words you choose are sacred! Positive words encourage; critical words tear down. Work together to build each other up and just watch how far your relationship will soar!
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 17: Love letters
When is the last time you received a love letter? Before I met my husband, the last real love letter I got was from my 4th grade crush. It ended with check here if you like me. Love letters are magical little pieces of paper. They have the ability to incite crazy good-feeling butterflies and swell one’s heart with love. The best part is that they are free! Don’t just wait for a prescribed moment (anniversary, bday, etc) to tell your honey how much you adore him/her; seize today to pour your heart out through your pen. This is a gift that will be long loves and appreciated… and you just may get one in return!
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 16: Mindful tone
The tone of your voice carries a wealth of information often unspoken – disinterest, excitement, anger, sarcasm and so on. As important as the words we choose to communicate to our spouse, is the tone we speak those words in. Sometimes an unkind tone can lead to misinterpretation of the message you are trying to send. Be mindful of the tone of your tone! Notice how you say what you say. Try your best to speak with a loving, caring, tender tone as opposed to an angry, harsh, bitter one. If you do, your valuable words will be far better received.
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 15: Time-outs
I think it is safe to say that we’ve all been conditioned to equate a “time-out” with a consequence to a negative action. Well, a more group-up way of looking at a time-out is viewing it as a much needed break – as an opportunity to recharge. And who needs that more than couples?! Marital breaks, even for just a day or two can do wonders for couples’ capacity to connect with each other in the long term. These breaks are not about taking them when something is going wrong. In fact, it is about taking them when everything is going perfectly right! They are maintenance breaks for yourself and for your relationship – they allow you to breathe independently so that when you come back together as a unit, you are stronger than ever.
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 14: Encouragement
A sign of a great relationship is one in which partners are acknowledging and encouraging each other’s growth. Take the time to look from the outside in, at your honey’s growth, be it personal or professional and recognize it. Give him/her that deserving hi-5 and check in to see how you may be of service in helping them continue on their desired path.
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 13: Morning sex!
I shudder at the thought that my mom reads this section but I can’t not include this suggestion because it is simply too good not to share (sorry Mom – may you still be able to look at me the same!) It is no secret that after awhile in a relationship, sex gets deprioritized for lots of reasons… one of which is time! With bust careers and sometimes kids, social calendars that rival those of celebs, couples are beat by the time they hit the hay. Which is why I recommend implementing a morning sex routine. Put down the straightening iron and hear things up before the kids wake up, before the emails start rolling in. Trust me, a morning “O” glow is far better than any designer blush.
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 12: Gratitude cards
I love greeting cards and while there certainly are lots of days per year made for giving your honey a card, there is nothing like receiving an unexpected card. I call this an appreciation card. When you are feeling particularly appreciative, buy or better yet, make a card that expresses your gratititude for your spouse. Be specific in your words about what you appreciate. Your darling will be over the moon thankful that you took the time to acknowledge his efforts.RELATIONSHIP TONIC 11: Relationship praise
It can be soooooo easy to focus on the negative in our relationship and while sure we certainly need to speak up fro what isn’t working, it is also important to recognize when our partner is getting it right too! Acknowledging a job well done in your relationship encourages more jobs well done… it is just that simple! And the best part is, it doesn’t cost you a thing just to express appreciation, but the reward for doing so, can be infinite.
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 10: Negate nagging
If you grew up with a nagging mama you know how unpleasant it is to be told to do something 37 times, each time in an increasingly irritated tone. No one likes to be nagged – not you, and definitely not your mate. When you want something done, remember that your timeline might not be your partner’s timeline, so insert a measure of flexibility or if there is no room for that, be clear about why x needs to be done by such and such a time. If reminders are needed, present them kindly with post-it notes on the wheel of the car or a sweet email. Remember, it is all about using an encouraging, flexible tone – if you can hear your mom in your voice, you aren’t doing it right.
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 9: Makeovers
Remember those days when every time you and your honey saw each other you practically pawed each other’s clothes off? Those days when you couldn’t take your eyes off each other because you were so attracted to one another? Well, one of the easiest ways to keep the heat alive between you two is to refresh your look regularly by getting annual makeovers. Whether done as a surprise or done together as a date, this rejuvenation will make you re-fall in lust with each other, over and over again… not to mention give your own confidence an always welcome boost!
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 8: Showering together!
When is the last time you got soapy, slippery, steamy, sultry wet in the shower with your sugar?! Been so long you can’t remember? Never done it? Oh my! Taking showers together regularly is a great way to connect with your partner. And I’m not talking about a 5-minute in-and-out “I scrub your back, you scrub mine” type of shower. No, this is the kind that lingers a little longer as you wash each other slowly and sensually from hair to toes. Dim the lights, use intoxicating soaps and soak up in all the bubbly goodness and slip-and-slide magic between you two!
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 7: Cuddling
Remember the beginning of your relationship when you couldn’t keep your paws off of each other?! Well, lasting love is dependent on a warm connection and that means abundant cuddling. But I get it… cuddling can get in the way… which is why I’m assigning those of you who are coupled up to engage in morning snuggle sessions. Simply set your alarm 5 minutes earlier and indulge i the warmth of each other. Whether you are the little spoon or big spoon, choose to chit-chat, giggle or watch the sun rise in silence, I guarantee that implementing this routine will reinforce your bond in a brand new way as well as kickstart your day uber positively!
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 6: Being a Cheerleader!
A partner is supposed to be your ultimate fan. And what better way to demonstrate your commitment to each other than by cheerleading your way through goals?! Despite your likely ability to accomplish anything on your won, it feels great to have your wingman hi-5 you along the way to your successes, both big and small. And not only does it feel great to be supported and to support, but by encouraging each other to do your best, you will continue to become your best which will enrich your relationship. After all, a big element of a healthy relationship is a healthy self!
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 5: Hooky Days
Life can get busy and while you are going this way and your significant other is going that a way, love can easily slop through the cracks. One super easy and super dun way to keep the love alive is to have sporadic spontaneous hook days together. Simply decide one morning to blow off the day (or even half a day will work) together and just enjoy each other’s company. Don’t worry about elaborate plans – in fact, it is better if you don’t make any. The point is to relax and reconnect. It works wonders – I should know… I did it with my husband Wednesday morning, indulging in a double-shot of 80s movies, and it was nothing short of awesome! Go ahead – you guys deserve it!
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 4: Get Out Of Jail Free Card
It’s a fact: nobody’s perfect… not even your amazingly, awesome, super fantastic significant other. And no matter how well you may have “trained” him/her, every one makes mistakes sometimes… and every one could really use a “get outta jail free card” every so often. Ya see, here’s the thing… if you expect perfection from your partner or within your relationship, you are fooling yourself – you are looking for a Hollywood version of a relationship, not a real one. Extending the GOOJFC is your way of saying, “you’re human, and I love you just the same.” The best time to pull one out is when your partern is least expecting it – this move will really help you show the love.
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 3: Gratitude
We all know that having your partner’s back is essential and although it might seem like you do a lot for your significant other and he/she may do a lot for you, are you taking the to show gratitude? Showing gratitude for everyday help and generous actions is monumental to relationship health; in fact gratitude is adaptive and actually helps us seek and bind to specific partners who seem to care about our welfare, So, to show gratitude, be mindful about what your partner needs in his/her life to make it easier, more fun, etc. and give it with no-strings-attached love, and when you are given to, be sure you show thanks with high levels of genuine appreciation.
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 2: “I” Statements
You may have learned about the “I statement” before but lest you not forget it to keep defense mechanisms relationships old and new, at bay. Using “I” instead of “You” allows you to own your feelings instead of blaming or attacking your significant other for how you are actually feeling. For example, saying “You make me so mad when you don’t listen to me” will inflame your BF and make him retreat emotionally and possibly even physically, but when you say “I feel mad when you do’t listen to me” you begin the conversation by taking responsibility for your reaction to his actions. In doing so, you set the stage for a non-threatening environment which will allow for a productive conversation.
RELATIONSHIP TONIC 1: Love Notes!
Pop a love note in your honey’s pocket, purse, gym bag or briefcase to remind him/her of how much you care. Be creative with it – whether naughty or nice, use this opportunity to be emotionally vulnerable. Guaranteed, you will make your sweetheart’s day! This works for friends too