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7 Tips for a Mindful Marriage

Mindful Marriage GraphicMindfulness can help you more fully enjoy what matters most– including your spouse! Try these seven tips to be more mindful in your marriage.


We live in a fast-paced world, and if we aren’t careful, life can slip by without us fully enjoying the people and things we love most. Being mindful, or maintaining an awareness of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surroundings, can help you be more mentally, emotionally and physically present, and more fully enjoy those things and people that matter most. Consider these seven tips for increasing mindfulness in your relationship with your significant other.

1. Practice personal mindfulness.

Practicing personal mindfulness can help create a stronger relationship with your sweetheart. Quieting the excess chatter in your mind will help to steady your emotions and lower your physical and mental stress levels, potentially making you less reactive to your partner’s actions or words. It can also help you to focus on the small, everyday moments with your loved one, such as being fully present when you hug or kiss.

2. Prioritize time with your spouse.

In order for us to connect and be mindful of our partner, we need to have time together. Make your spouse a priority and give him or her your undivided attention, even if it is for 10 minutes every day to check in with them about their day. No TV. No phones. No books. Just each other.

3. Continually learn about each other.

Take time to ask open-ended questions so you can know about what is really going on in their world. The more mindful you are of each other’s hopes, dreams and challenges, the more of a support you can be to each other.

4. Show affection.

Let your partner know that you are mindful of them by showing your love daily through affection. Hold hands, give a lingering full-body hug or a five-second kiss.

5. Play together.

Have fun together and try new things. Show that you are mindful of your partner by trying things that he/she enjoys doing.

6. Express appreciation and compliments.

Show your partner that you are aware of him or her by sharing genuine compliments and words of appreciation daily.

7. Service.

Show your partner that you are mindful of him or her by helping ease their load through small acts of service. Even little things like getting up with the kids, making dinner, or doing a chore you normally don’t do can make a huge difference.


Naomi Brower NewNaomi Brower is an Extension Associate Professor in Weber County specializing in helping others improve the quality of their lives through creating and strengthening their relationships. She earned her master’s degree in Family and Human Development from Utah State University and she is a Certified Family Life Educator. She enjoys hiking, traveling (especially anywhere green) and playing with her husband and adorable little boy.  Contact Naomi at naomi.brower@usu.edu or check out videos and other content at relationships.usu.edu.

References:

Doherty, W. J. (2013). Take back your marriage. New York: NY: The Guildford Press:

Gottman, J. M. & Silver, N. (2007). The seven principles for making marriage work. London, England: Orion Books, Ltd.

Parker, T. (2016, August 24). How to mindfully meditate in marriage. [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.gottman.com/blog/mindfully-meditate-marriage/

 




How to Keep Your Relationship Strong

Keep Your Relationship Strong

Keep your relationship strong by removing these three blocks, and replacing them with things that will build your relationship.


 

 




4 Reasons Date Nights Matter

Date Nights MatterNeed an excuse for a date night? We’ve got four— that is, four ways date nights can strengthen your relationship.


Make Date Night a Priority

Summertime is a great time to build 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. Increasing communication. 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 sustain couples through the tough times.
  3. Strengthening commitment. Setting aside time to go on a date demonstrates your commitment to each other and sets an important example to children and others that you value your relationship.
  4. Providing stress relief. Date nights allow couples to enjoy time together apart from the pressing concerns of ordinary life.

 

Make Date Night a Success

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

  • Make an effort to plan your date, and if needed, budget so you can put money toward nice evenings out. For date ideas, check out 10 Tips for Romance on a Budget.
  • Make an effort to look your best by wearing something special for your date (cologne, jewelry, special clothes, 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.

Join us for a Date Night

Looking for a fun date night? Come to the Take a Hike! Reaching New Heights in Your Marriage Date Night on June 23, where you will explore the great outdoors as you hike together in the beautiful mountains near Salt Lake City. Reach new heights as you participate in additional relationship enhancement activities along the way to the top. Click here for more information.


This Article was written by Naomi Brower, Utah State University Extension professor

For more information, see “The Date Night Opportunity” by Brad Wilcox and Jeff Dew found at http://nationalmarriageproject.org/resources/the-date-night-opportunity/

 




Three Tips to Win Your Relationship

win your relationshipWin your relationship by finding small ways to connect with the person you love. Learn how in this video from Naomi Brower, Utah State University Extension professor.


 

 




Increase the Joy with Forgiveness

joy through forgiveness graphicSo much of our happiness is within our own control. Find out how to increase joy in your marriage or relationship through forgiveness.


Isn’t it amazing that the people we are closest to have the ability to offend us the most?  One reason for this is that when we love someone, we lower our protective emotional wall so we are more vulnerable to getting hurt.  It works the same with the people who love us – none of us are perfect – we have all said or done things that offend those we love the most. It is the way we REACT to offending or being offended that determines the effect on our relationship. It is important to think about how we really want to feel. Do you want to feel anger, resentment, bitterness, pain, and misery or do you want to feel love, peace, joy, and happiness? There are two responses that will bring about the positive feelings we all want to enjoy – forgiving your spouse when you are offended, and offering a sincere apology when you have offended your loved one.

The following five steps can help you in the forgiveness process and will allow you to replace the feelings of bitterness and hurt with positive feelings of love:

  1. Take time to calm down before speaking to your spouse. This allows your brain to switch from the “fight or flight” area of the brain to the higher level thinking part of the brain.
  2. Talk with your spouse about what happened to offend you. Sometimes you will find it was a misunderstanding or totally unintentional.        
  3. Recognize you aren’t perfect either. Think of the many times your spouse has forgiven you for offenses.
  4. Think of at least three memories when your feelings of love were especially strong for your spouse. Whenever you feel negative emotions of anger, hurt etc., think of these memories.
  5. Give yourself time for the hurt feelings to be replaced with feelings of love. It may take some time, but don’t give up!

It is also important to learn how to offer a sincere apology. Three crucial steps are:

  1. Recognize exactly what you did to offend your spouse.
  2. Develop a plan to avoid repeating the same mistake again.
  3. Tell your spouse you are sorry.

Making sure you include the first two steps will make the third step more meaningful and effective.

So…think of something you may have done recently to offend your spouse and begin the steps of apologizing — and think of something your spouse has done that offended you and begin the steps of forgiveness. Don’t forget the three memories!

Marriage can be hard work when you think about giving and taking, forgiving and asking for forgiveness – but when you are snuggling in the arms of the one you love, it is well worth it!


This article was written by GaeLynn Peterson, Wayne County Director and Extension Assistant Professor, FCS and 4-H Youth




7 Ways to Make Media Work for Your Relationship

Make Media Work.jpg

Does social media add or detract from your relationship with your partner? Check out these tips on how to use media as a tool to strengthen your relationship.


According to recent statistics, over 97 percent of American adults own a mobile phone, and 67 percent own a smartphone.  In addition, the platforms and mediums for connection are seemingly endless (Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, email, Instagram, WhatsApp, IM etc.).

Increased options for instant connection can have positive and negative impacts on relationships. While online resources can help us stay connected to those we love and increase relationship satisfaction, being constantly connected to the world through online platforms can also potentially lead to neglecting our partners, conflict, less relationship and life satisfaction, and affairs.

Consider the following seven ways to use technology to strengthen your relationships.

  1. Checking-in texts. Take a minute during a break to tell your partner you are thinking of him or her or to send a “kiss.”
  2. FaceTime/Skype. While media cannot replace actual face-to-face time, it is an important tool that can be used to help couples stay connected. This is particularly true for couples who spend extended periods of time physically apart (e.g. military, those who travel for work, etc.).
  3. Facebook Posts. Facebook can be used to publicly express admiration and appreciation for your partner. Photographs, memes, videos and messages can all be used to express affection.
  4. Instagram. Instagram can be a great way to share moments and different aspects of your day and life with your partner.  This can be particularly useful for couples who are often physically separated due to work or other circumstances.
  5. Email. Emails can be a fun way to share possible gift ideas found online, date night or getaway ideas, silly pictures or jokes or just to check in with each other.
  6. Pinterest. Similar to emails, Pinterest can be used to collect fun date night ideas, funny pictures to share with each other, or to create a dream board for future events or goals.
  7. YouTube and Videos. Videos can be a fun way to connect with each other if you are watching, discussing and/or laughing about them together.

While using media to express affection and commitment can be a great boost to relationships, in order to prevent misunderstandings or frustration, be sure to also discuss boundaries for technology with your partner (keeping profiles public, being open and honest about technology use and who you are communicating with, having technology-free zones or time while you are together, etc.). By having an open and honest discussion and agreeing on boundaries as a couple, you can better ensure that technology will be a benefit rather than a detriment to your relationship.


This article was written by Naomi Brower, Utah State University Extension professor, naomi.brower@usu.edu, 801-399-8206, and Elizabeth Davis, Utah State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Assistant Professor for Kane County,  elizabeth.davis@usu.edu 

 




Ask an Expert: How to Combat 13 Barriers to Relationship Fun

relationship-fun-graphicLooking to add some fun back into your relationship? Take a look at these thirteen common barriers to relationship fun, and how to combat them.


Boring, drab, lifeless, stale, dull, tedious. These are probably not the words you hope to use to describe your relationships. How about well planned, frugal, precise, productive, serious, busy? Though these can be characteristics of a strong, healthy relationship, they are not likely those things that make a relationship seem appealing. What made your relationship so attractive in the beginning? What is it about your partner that made you want to be with him or her?

In the beginning, no matter what the “spark” in your relationship was, it was so enjoyable you that both wanted to continue being together. Have your blissful days of being in love continued? Unfortunatelystrong, healthy, long-lasting marriages don’t just happen. We have to be intentional about our marriages, and research tells us that playing together helps us connect and feel more positive toward each other. Keeping the spark alive can be the most enjoyable work you and your partner will ever do. Make time to play and have fun; it is good for you and your relationship.

Consider the following barriers that stop couples from playing together and also ideas on how to combat them.

  1. Lack of energy, unhealthy living habits. Make a plan to eat right and participate in physical activities. Help each other stick to the plan.
  2. “Some day” syndrome. Schedule it and leave reminders for yourself.
  3. Fear of looking silly. Let your partner know your fears and trust him or her to help you overcome them. Do fun things together that you feel comfortable with.
  4. Differing ideas of fun. Find out why your partner enjoys his or her hobbies so much by asking questions and trying it yourself. Be open minded. Compromise.
  5. Serious disposition. Laugh at yourself. Just try playing and see what happens.
  6. Resentment. Remind yourself of how you used to feel toward each other by doing things you used to enjoy together, looking at old photos or talking about feelings.
  7. Loss of hope in the relationship. Remind yourself of happier times by displaying happy photos, reminiscing, looking at memorabilia, etc.
  8. Too competitive. Play a new game. Don’t keep score. Work together to complete a task.
  9. Lack of money. Find fun things to do together that are free. Or, save for a special occasion.
  10. Other priorities. Talk together about what you feel is important to make an enjoyable relationship.
  11. View it as a waste of time. Consider play as a way to strengthen your relationship, because it is!
  12. No role model. Talk to or read about other couples that have had successful relationships. Watch children play; they are the experts.
  13. Feel it is unnecessary. Just try it and see how much more enjoyable your relationship can be.

Now that you have considered some of the barriers to play in your relationship, take action and make a plan to do something fun.

Based on ideas from The Power of Play in Relationships Manual (Braff & Schwarz, 2004) and Your Time Starved Marriage (Parrott & Parrott, 2006).

For additional ideas, see the fact sheet:

http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/FC_Relationships_2011-04pr.pdf.


This article was written by Naomi Brower, Utah State University Extension professor, naomi.brower@usu.edu, 801-399-8206, and Clarissa Barnhill, USU Extension intern




4 Tips to Becoming a Better Listener

better-listenerShow how much you value and care about your partner and set a positive tone in your relationship by being a better listener. Watch this video from USU Extension expert Naomi Brower for tips to becoming a better listener


Highlights:

  1. Check your body language to show that you’re listening.
  2. Focus on what the other person is saying. Don’t interrupt!
  3. Repeat back in your own words what has been shared in order to make sure you understand the full message.
  4. Share your point of view using “I” messages such as, “This is what I think and feel.”



Become a Better Partner by Using Assertive Statements 

Become a better partner

Happy Family Friday! This week learn how to approach conflict in a relationship or marriage.


It can be hard to approach your partner when there is conflict in a relationship or marriage. Oftentimes, humans err in three ways when there is something difficult to discuss: 1) We become too aggressive, saying things in a harsh tone that we will later regret; 2) We are not assertive enough, shutting down quickly when trying to explain our point of view; or 3) We avoid confrontation entirely because we don’t like conflict or feel it won’t help. Fall within one of these three categories? Try using assertive statements the next time an issue arises.

Assertive Statements

Assertive statements are loving ways to express a thought, feeling or desire that could create tension or conflict within a relationship; each statement is finished with something you’d like to see changed, such as:

  1. What I would like from you in our relationship is…
  2. What I could do for you that would help our relationship is…
  3. What I would like for you to do more in our relationship is…
  4. What I would like for us to do differently is…

If you’d like to create your own assertive statements, make sure they identify what you are feeling in the situation and are not accusatory to your partner. Using “I” based assertive statements rather than accusatory “you” statements allows you to acknowledge your feelings in a non-threatening and inoffensive way. This act of less accusation will lead to a more conducive environment for problem solving, which is vital in building happy, healthy relationships.

Learn more

Want to learn more tips for your relationships? Healthy Relationships Utah offers FREE Couple LINKS courses that teach concepts like assertive statements and many others. This research-based course is great for couples who want to build happy relationships or repair distressed ones. To learn more, visit healthyrelationshipsutah.org.


This article was written by Megan Hargraves, Media Specialist with Healthy Relationships Utah, megan.hargraves@usu.edu.




8 Top Tips for Strong Family Relationships

StrongFamilyRelationships

Follow these tips to help strengthen your family.


Strength Training

Today’s families face greater challenges than families of years ago. Family time can build strong family values, healthy relationships, and resilient family members.

Families that work together, eat together, talk together, and play together can better weather the storms that families will face.

Here are a few tips to help encourage quality family time:

1. Quality family time together in doing great activities such as games, hiking, reading, playing outdoors and visiting family and friends.
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2. Meal time is family time. Families who eat 3-5 meals together a week have stronger relationships, kids who do better in school, and avoid risky behaviors. Plan simple meals where family members can assist with cooking and meal planning.

3. Take time for weekly family meetings where family members can communicate about emotions, family issues, family finance, family plans, and upcoming events. Make sure all family members have a chance to communicate and share.

4. Build a family crest that illustrates your family values. When children understand what is important to the family, they can incorporate these values into their lives.

5. Encourage a routine that schedules homework and reading time, limiting TV, video games, and computer time.

6. Share household responsibilities. Encourage all family members to have some responsibilities that help family members. Teamwork builds pride in each family member doing their part.

7. Show love and caring to all members. Share the great things family members do. Have a bulletin board, give “love notes”, and always praise the good things you want your children to do.

8. Keep spousal relationships strong. Parents need to keep their relationship strong and be sturdy role models to their children. Weekly date nights help parents focus on and enjoy one another.


This article was written by Carolyn Washburn, Extension Professor, Washington County