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The 7 secrets of staying in love. Which ones could be missing from your relationship?


Judging by the current divorce statistics (an average of 38% of marriages end in divorce in the Uk and even higher in America), there is a lot that isn't right in relationships after the heady days of courting. A kind of mind-blowing rigidity, routine and neglect takes place after the first few years, or even months, of a couple living together which tend to rob relationships of the love, comfort and value they should enjoy, ultimately killing all hope of their survival.

The secrets of staying in love are thus very important for any relationship and they revolve around seven essential elements, listed in order of priority:

1. Mutual Respect
At the heart of love is respect because it contains all the other six elements. Treating each other with the greatest respect is a key secret of keeping love alive. Respect is the glue that holds couples together because it shows value and appreciation. It means care for the other person, sensitivity to their feelings, regular dialogue and attention. Where these aspects are missing, there is no relationship in any true sense of the word. When we respect partners we value their presence, their opinions and their contribution. They make a difference to our life which we never take for granted.

2. Gratitude

Finding someone who enhances our happiness, who values us and desires us is one of the greatest feelings of self-reinforcement in our life, one which cannot be taken for granted. It needs remembering and nurturing every day of being together. Yet taking each other for granted, which ultimately leads to neglect, is one of the most common causes in the breakdown of relationships. Giving thanks regularly and living in a spirit of gratitude for finding that cherished person is one of the main ways of staying in love. By thanking each other, daily, for being there and for the love that is shared, it keeps the feelings alive and vibrant. It also reminds both parties of the importance of sharing each other's presence and what they both bring to the relationship.

3. Affirmation and Reinforcement
Affirming and reinforcing each other routinely is another key way to stay in love. Often people forget the compliments, the gratitude, the appreciation and the little endearments that make a difference to their partner's day. They perhaps become mean with praise or they believe they shouldn't express certain feelings because the partner should 'know' how they feel. Big mistake! Everything should be said mainly because it could be the last thing a person hears. Often we lose loved ones then live in regret and guilt at what we could have said to them, and didn't, and what we wanted to say but couldn't be bothered to say, which is such a waste of opportunity. The best way of living is to affirm each other daily; to say what we feel whenever we feel it, especially when it is positive and reinforcing. There is no greater sign of appreciation and value of a partner.

4. Regular Communication
Giving regular attention to someone and having a dialogue are very important secrets to staying in love. Communication is two ways: talking and listening. Many people are good at talking but not so good at listening, or they prefer to hear what they want to hear while deliberately excluding what they don't., which makes communicating rather problematic. The greatest gift in communication is to listen to a partner. It shows sensitivity for what matters to them, value for what they are saying and it helps to spot the danger alerts much quicker. If we are sensitive to the needs of our partner, and they are sensitive to ours, potential disagreements and conflicts will be greatly reduced. Communication also means expressiveness and openness; never to feel restricted in one's feelings or what one wishes to say. The more open and expressive one can be with one's partner is the more trust and understanding there will be in the relationship.

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5. Making Time For Each Other

This is a very important aspect of staying in love. If a couple have little time for one another because they are both 'too busy' with work or the responsibilities of home/activities, that is not a relationship. That is just two single people living together for expediency. When we love we make time for one another because we are each other's priority. Even children have to take a back seat, sometimes, to make sure there is mutual focus and attention in keeping that love strong. Weekends away together, sharing as many activities as possible, surprise dates and simply being there when it matters most, are some very important ways to staying in love.

Love cannot grow when people are constantly apart. It needs to be sustained, just like a plant, with regular attention and care. Making time also mean giving space to each other for personal development instead of being together every moment of the day or trying to share every kind of activity. Sometimes relationships become claustrophobic because each individual is not given the space to breathe in his/her own way. The best way to deal with this aspect is to have a formula of 25%, 50% and 25% when it comes to activities: each 25% is for both partners to follow their own interests while coming together 50% of the time to share mutual activities.

6. Caring Actions

Love is not built on special events that occur sporadically, like just celebrating birthdays or Valentine's. People stay in love by making their routine every day actions loving ones. It means that whatever they do, especially in the home, it shows care and appreciation, not just doing such actions as special events in order to impress. It is like celebrating one's birthday every day; or celebrating when both parties met every month, instead of once each year. The more both people feel cherished, valued and affirmed is the more they will want to love one another because it will be a continuing experience of joy and excitement.

7. Spontaneity

This is an essential element in staying in love. Nothing kills a relationship quicker than rigid routine which is unchanging, especially when routines tend to rob relationships of their life and soul. There is no harm in developing routine for practical things but when it comes to love and emotions they should be spontaneous. There should be at least one surprise every week between a couple. Most neglect is felt in relationships where routine has killed the joy and spontaneity of the friendship, like making love only on a Saturday, and only in bed, instead of on any day of the week and anywhere in the house!!

Less routine will not only encourage creativity in behaviour, but doing something new and spontaneous will always give greater enjoyment and a fresh way of keeping that love alive. It will also stop the couple from taking each other for granted and introduce more varied activities to keep them together. Most of all, it will stop the parties looking outside for greater excitement!

3 Essential Things That Make a Relationship Work


There are three main things that make a relationship work and everything else flows from them:

First are EXPECTATIONS. This is the most important aspect of any partnership. Expectations should be kept as low as possible so that they do not become unrealistic. The expectations we bring to a relationship can make or break it very quickly. Many people expect to change their partner in some way after they settle down, or they expect certain things to happen in an ideal way, or they expect to get their own way in most things without thinking of the other person's needs, or they judge their partners through their own narrow expectations. But those expectations only kill the relationship slowly as they are not likely to be fulfilled. If couples allow the relationship to unfold, and allow themselves to grow together without too many expectations of each other, that would be a great foundation for success.

Second is RESPECT, which is usually at the heart of love. If a person loves you they have to respect you. We cannot say we love without respect being the core of it. And when we say we respect someone, it is not just a single handy word. It has key dimensions to it. To respect a loved one means that we are curious about them, we are prepared to give them our attention, we wish to have dialogue with them, to be sensitive to their needs and to empower them through reinforcement and affirmation. If all that is not at the heart of respect, then we really have little love or respect for our partner. For example, we cannot say we respect someone, yet mindlessly betray them, or find fault with them all the time, or neglect their needs.

Finally there is RECIPROCITY. This big and important word has a very simple meaning: give and take. Relationships work best when there are two 100% GIVERS in it. Not one person giving and the other taking, or two takers just demanding from each other. Nothing works like that. When there are two givers prepared to think of each other, to put each other first, to praise and encourage each other, to affirm each other and are prepared to put themselves out for one another, it is magical. If you tell someone you love them, you praise them, you encourage them and you get nothing in return, that's a taker who is enjoying your generosity and love while ignoring your own needs. Reciprocity keeps people together through mutual giving and sharing in every sense of the word. That's what relationships are for: sharing. If one person keeps giving and the other taking, there is no sharing there, simply one user taking advantage of another giver.

If these three key elements are in a relationship, it stands a far better chance of working than anything else because the groundwork would have been laid for the couple to love, respect and appreciate each other in a sharing environment with few expectations, greater understanding and a whole lot of give and take between them.

The 4 Key Ways we Deal With Perception in Relationships


We have four main ways of dealing with our perception of others around us: either through sympathy, humour, avoidance or anger. These four coping mechanisms emphasise the power of perception when we apply them to how couples behave towards each other. Let's illustrate that further.

Imagine that you learn your partner is having an affair at the office with a colleague. Purely on your perception, and nothing else, you could display any one of four types of reaction to cope with that knowledge.

First, you might perceive that the person who passed on the information was being vindictive or jealous of your partner's success or status at work. In that case, you might mention it to your spouse but feel sympathy for her if you think you really know her well, if you perceive her to be victimised, or if you know her to be faithful and believe such accusation to be groundless or undeserved. In short, you would be far more sympathetic in that situation.

Second, you might laugh it off as humorous, especially if you perceive her to be unattractive to other men, not in the least interested in other men, or you view the idea as too silly to contemplate. On the other hand, based on your experience (especially if you suspect a liaison in the past), you might decide to ignore the accusation or avoid it altogether; to wait and see what develops, but with a feeling of apprehension. A kind of state of denial until the evidence presents itself.

Finally, if you actually believe the gossip, based on her past activity, you might blow your top at her perceived insensitivity and apparent infidelity.

So, just on your perception of that one situation, you could react in four different ways, dictated purely by your thoughts and conscious assessment of the truth or falsity of the gossip. A perception that would then engender, in turn, any one of the four different reactions from your spouse! That is why it is so important to give the benefit of the doubt because our perception is based upon thoughts, while true reality is based upon actions. The two are always going to be different.

Seven tips for having a truly happy relationship


We all seek happiness in our lives, but being happy in a relationship is not so easy to achieve for two important reasons. Our happiness often depends on the other person's mood and expectations, and couples don't always coincide on what makes them happy. Furthermore, when two strangers come together, trying to share the same space, it is a learning process having to be tolerant of each other's whims and faults. However, by observing certain simple, but essential, ground rules, it should lead to a lot more happiness within the relationship.

There are seven key elements of the truly happy home:

1. Reciprocity: This just means give and take in a generous and unselfish way. Where you have two givers in a relationship, giving 100% to each other, that is a match made in heaven. Resentment and frustration only creep in when you have one definite taker expecting the other person to provide everything, to do all the work or mainly to serve their needs. With reciprocity come sensitivity and respect. When we care we are sensitive to our partner's desires and concerns; we care how they feel; we give them our best and they would do all that in return too. Mutual giving and respect make up reciprocity which is the greatest source of happiness between a couple.

2. Thoughtfulness: Thinking for our partners, being sensitive to their moods and being empathetic to their anxieties all help to make a relationship truly pleasurable. When we are thoughtful we value the things that matter to our partners; we give them space to develop their unique selves; we accept them completely as they are without conditions and we allow them to be human without judging or criticising them. When we are thoughtful about a partner we give them room to breathe, we value them daily and celebrate their presence. Thoughtfulness allows couples to treat one another as special and to put each other first at every opportunity.

3. Expectations: Reduce the expectations that are brought to the relationship. When couples begin their relationships they tend to bring many unrealistic expectations with them. But unfulfilled expectations eventually kill relationships because they breed disappointment and disillusion., When we expect too much of partners which they cannot realistically fulfil, they feel inadequate while we feel disappointed in them. To achieve happiness in a relationship keep the expectations, especially of perfection, to a minimum. In this way we won't be judging partners purely by what we expect, or what they have not done. They will be fully accepted and loved as they are. If they are doing that for us too there will be more negotiation, more empathy, greater understanding and lots of reciprocity!

4. Sense of Humour: This is crucial to any happiness in a relationship. The ability to see the funny side of life, to laugh at ourselves and to accept that everything we experience is part of our journey and development, is a true gift. Sometimes things can seem pretty dire but their real impact comes in how we approach them. We can try to use our humour to overcome and diffuse them; we can also appreciate a joke, or we can be sombre and serious, making every molehill into a mountain. The choice is ours, but humour will add richness to a relationship, especially when the couple can laugh together, and is bound to make a partnership more enjoyable.

5. Positivity: To have a positive attitude to life takes us much farther than a negative one because it draws us to other positive people; it makes us more adept and capable in dealing with adversity and it allows us to to take things in our stride more comfortably than constantly worrying or fretting. If someone is constantly complaining that does not encourage a happy atmosphere. That is why positivity is emotionally empowering to both parties. When someone is smiling and fearless it does far more to warm us and motivate us than one with a frown. Positivity allows us to see the better side of life, it softens our moods, keeps us hopeful of better things and keeps us feeling much happier than many other factors in life.

6. Love and Affection: Love is the greatest foundation of a happy relationship because when we love someone we affirm them, we value them, we desire them and make them feel wanted and we connect with them in a special celebratory way, every single day, which is just magical. Love keeps a couple together and makes them far happier than being detached because it shows what they mean to each other. Where there is love and affection there is usually respect and appreciation. This affects how we feel about ourselves, our partners and our world; it increases our sense of belonging and security and, inevitably, the level of happiness we naturally feel.

7. Sharing activities together: While there should always be space for individual pursuits, couples who share a lot of their time together in mutually enjoyable activities tend to have a happier relationship. The joy of sharing, of reinforcing each other and simply being together helps the couple's feelings of joy and contentment, warmth and love. The simplest things to share make for the most enjoyable relationships because it is about being valued and included by another.

The sure-fire way to get change in your date or partner


I bet you have heard an excited, newly engaged person say something like: 'It's annoying when he just leaves me and goes out with his friends to the pub on Thursday nights, but, as soon as we're married, that's going to stop.' Or 'I have noticed how she flirts with other guys now but, once we're married, she'll change.' Or 'I know he drinks a lot while he is single, but he'll cut down when we're together.'

Those statements ring huge bells for any relationship because the expectations they contain are unreasonable, unwelcome and unlikely to succeed. This is because they blithely ignore the character, needs and aspirations of the other person involved. We all expect our partners to change without realising that, should they actually change into the person we desire, they might not like us at all! Moreover, we would no longer have any control in the relationship because it would be like dealing with a virtual stranger, one who is bound to expect something more than we can give.

We all want to change others, and hope they modify their behaviour to please us, but, if we find it so difficult to change our own attitude, think how difficult it must be for other people to change theirs! People who expect their partners to change into their ideal after the vows will be very, very disappointed, a situation which often destroys the relationship. If you are dating someone now who has an irritating habit, don't think that when you are married or living together it will get better. In fact, it is likely to get worse with familiarity. If it really bothers you, or you have doubts about your intended, don't go there!

The Only Way To Change
The most crucial thing you need to accept is that the only person you can ever change is yourself. People change because they want to change, not because of outside influence, unless they wish to impress or copy someone they admire. Those entering committed relationships do change some of their actions, but they tend to be minor and align easily with their aspirations. It is difficult to change primary aspects of ourselves which form the core of our identity, values and beliefs, unless there is a major benefit in doing so.

Furthermore, people rarely change when they are under pressure from someone else, even a loved one. In fact, that is the time they are likely to feel inadequate and will most resist any request to change. The best way of ever getting change is to modify ourselves, value our strengths and acknowledge our weaknesses, not wait for partners to do it. Change will then be guaranteed.

It took me a long time to learn that hard lesson while I waited in vain for my ex-husband to change to make our situation better. Everything simply remained the same, or got worse, because he was fearful of any change. I had to change myself to get the results I wanted. Changing my behavior meant that I stopped reinforcing the situation and stopped blaming my partner too, which elicited a new reaction from him because he lost his control of my reactions. It took tons of courage and effort on my part, but it was well worth it, being the first step in acknowledging who I was and what I really wanted for my life, instead of just focusing on my spouse's behavior to make myself feel better.

Taking Responsibility
If we wait on our partners to change, especially when their action gives them continued pleasure, control or power, they will never be any different. More importantly, we will also continue to use their behavior as an excuse to prevent us ever addressing our needs or faults, or doing anything significant about our own situation. Someone else will always come in handy as an excuse to keep us in denial.

We have to take responsibility for ourselves, if we are to change our circumstances in any way. But, we cannot do that if we are afraid, low in self-esteem, have no knowledge of who we really are, lack the necessary information, have no support and don't know where we are heading. We can't begin to appreciate others either, without acknowledging our own hurt and needs.

Please note that the addictive behaviour of loved ones with alcohol, drugs or other substances are totally outside your control. Any change in such behaviour is almost impossible unless engineered by the person himself. Your love cannot cure his/her illness, no matter how caring you are. It will require professional intervention. Constantly hoping that a person will change, and nagging them to do it, will only make you feel frustrated and impotent and leave them feeling hassled. You may help your partner by providing information, making resources available, being supportive and seeking support yourself (for example, with Al-Anon), but it is up to him/her to work through his problem for their benefit.

Romantic activities for couples on a rainy day


Many relationships suffer from both parties allowing the routine home responsibilities to overwhelm their love life; being too busy to nurture their love and to make time for each other. This is most noticeable among people who have been together for a long time. They tend to take each other for granted and, over the years, the little loving acts tend to go by the wayside, drying up like prunes in much need of water.

On a rainy day, when outdoor activities are restricted, it is the perfect time for couples to make positive use of the time and affirm each other, to rediscover themselves and their courtship days. To renew their interest in each other, to make that time to share activities together and to simply bask in the sheer joy of each other's company, especially if there are no children around. The main thing to remember about these rainy days is that they shouldn't be rushed. They are there to be enjoyed, slowly.

There are 12 great activities that can be done on a rainy day, listed in reverse order of enjoyment and importance.

12. Play the rain at its own game and have a walk in it. Splash like children together, hand in hand, while you do a take of Fred Astaire's 'Singing in the Rain' with your umbrellas, then come together and share a massive kiss while the raindrops fall on your faces.

11. Clear out a room or a garage that you have been meaning to do for ages. Doesn't matter what it is as long as you both do it. Every now and then stop and throw something at each other, or reminisce every time you find something that tells a sentimental story of your relationship. When you fancy a break, have a few kisses, with a few words of endearment before you continue.

10. Play some board games like Scrabble, Monopoly or chess with your partner. This actiity is a real favourite with me. I love to play Scrabble on the computer with my boyfriend because I tend to win! I have a special strategy I use. As we have to sit closely near the computer, while he is trying to focus I lean against him, start nuzzling his neck, playing with his hair and generally distracting him playfully to give me greater advantage! It never fails to work.

9. Get a couple of favourite movies to see. Two films will satisfy both choices. Make sure you have your coke, coffee, popcorn and a duvet cover where you can either stretch out on the sofa close together or on the floor in any position and watch to your heart's content, while you feed each other with food.

8. Improve your memory or do some IQ tests online. The great thing about doing memory tests together is that you're not only improving your skills, but you can also test each other out and turn it into a fun game at the same time where losing carries loving penalties which can be enjoyed during the game or after you're finished.

7. Have a meal in bed (breakfast or lunch?), no matter what the time is. It's very romantic, conversation comes very easily at such times, it has a very cosy feeling and you can always snuggle back down after breakfast and add other activities to it!

6. Select some of your favourite records and simply relax hugging together and listening to them. Better still, dance together, waltz up close and look into each other's eyes. Rediscover why you fell in love, and just boogey yourselves silly.

5. Have a romantic dinner for two with all the trimmings: candles, the best dinner set, dress to impress and soft music in the background. Relive those earlier dates.

4. Leave little loving notes hidden around the house/apartment for each other to find. Notes must be sincere and varied, showing your appreciation and gratitude to have the other person in your life. "I love you" is a must, but try to be less predictable and creative. Every time a not is found it carries a reward!

3. Play strip poker and make up the rules as you go along, so that neither of you knows what will happen next! The loser has to run a bath where you can both bask naked together amidst the bubbles.

2. Pamper each other as much as possible in all sorts of ways. Give a body massage, a shoulder or foot massage. Wash each other's hair or lather each other very slowly, enjoying the touch of each other's skin.

1. Have a pillow fight which goes from room to room then you can both collapse in whichever place it feels natural to stop. Wherever the pillow fight ends, that's where you make glorious love together. Spend as much time as possible basking in each other's arms and enjoying one another in an appreciative way.

Discover yourself and your partner in the most attentive way possible and make this rainy day one to remember. Better still, make it the start of the rest of your life so that from then on, every day, rain or shine, will be treated like a rainy day: full of love, joy and mutually enjoyable activities.

7 ways for couples to reconnect with each other


Relationships often go stale and dull when couples settle into complacency. Often the burden of keeping a home and looking after children, who demand constant attention, can rob the partnership of its freshness, vibrancy and excitement.

In Britain at least 30% of recent divorces involve children under 5! That's a very sad statistic mainly because parents are not aware of how to blend a new child with their romance. They focus almost exclusively on the newborn (women mainly) while unintentionally excluding themselves. Soon enough, romance is killed or put on hold, one parent (mainly men) begins to feel resentful at the lack of attention and might look outside for comfort. After that, separation or divorce is not far off!  So children can destroy relationships, if parents aren't careful.  

However, the main problem with many relationships is that couples soon begin to take each other for granted. They stop affirming and reinforcing each other and start being mean and critical instead. They gradually lose all the things they did when they were courting because they feel more secure with the partner in the bag. They don't celebrate their partners anymore and, inevitably, things go down the drain.  

The following suggestions to rekindle romance should be of some value.

1. Tell each other 'I love you' as often as possible.  It is the greatest compliment to tell a partner how we honestly feel, but some people do not believe in expressing genuine feelings to their loved ones. Many believe it is 'unnatural' or they could be 'overdoing' it. Yet there is no law against having positive feelings and telling someone about them every moment of the day. The most loving things are done spontaneously, and as often as we feel the need to do them, not according to particular schedules. It could also be the last thing they hear from you!

2. Praise and appreciate each other. As relationships last longer, appreciation tends to gradually decline. We begin to become meanspirited with praise and gratitude, because we come to see every action as automatic and unspoken. Yet praising someone's efforts, no matter how small, helps to REINFORCE them, to value them and leaves little room for neglect.

3. Leave little love notes around the home for him/her in unexpected places. There is nothing more endearing than loving surprises, especially when one least expects them. Leaving little messages of love, sending spontaneous texts, or just taking time out of a busy day to call to say 'I'm thinking of you' would really make that person feel special.

4. Establish routines for young children:  Put them to bed at a set time each day. That should allow you both time together when they are in bed. Try not to take them with you to 'adult' gatherings either. That should give you more time to enjoy each other's company, especially with other adults. Most important, try to go out at least twice each month (wining, dining, cinema, concert, dancing etc). These allow you both quality time together doing something lighthearted, while giving you time away from the children.

5. Walk hand in hand when outdoors. Whatever you are doing, do it lovingly, especially walking together. Hug, hold hands, kiss his face now and then, kiss her hand, demonstrate that love to the world. Walking hand in hand gives a wonderful feeling of belonging, togetherness and joy. It encourages closeness while communicating or enjoying activities together. Moreover, on a practical level, regular walking keeps the weight down and encourages a more healthier lifestyle. 

6. Highlight the difference you've made to each other. This is a very important aspect, to AFFIRM someone and to let them know, constantly, how their presence has changed your life. We become different people the minute we meet someone because we are happier, more joyful, more purposeful and far more loving. When things go sour, we tend to forget those early magical moments. But being with someone new, who really gives us butterflies and adds meaning to our existence, is always a life enhancing experience.

7. Spend a whole weekend in bed making love, chatting and affirming. Having a healthy sex life is crucial to communication, to keeping the relationship vibrant and partners together. Yet this is the part that really gets thrown by the wayside, especially when kids are on the scene. Forget the chores and everything else. Book a room in a hotel, if possible, and allow yourselves to be pampered. This would be a poignant reminder of why you came together in the first place: to love each other, not just to have a family or keep a house. 

Courting shouldn't stop when the two people marry or settle together. That is the time the real courtship should begin to keep that romance fire burning brightly for a long time to come.

7 FREE and simple ways to romance your wife/girlfriend


Some men find it hard to be romantic because many things relating to women do not come easily to them. Many struggle with ideas for keeping their relationships alive, yet there are some simple things which either partner can do for the other that would spice up the union and keep it fresh. The following suggestions are guaranteed to give a better return than doing nothing at all.

1. Telling her 'I love you' as often as possible.
Some people do not believe in expressing their genuine feelings to their loved ones. But why should that be? There is no law against having positive feelings and telling someone about them every moment of the day. Furthermore, it is the greatest compliment to someone to tell them how we honestly feel. However, we think nothing of criticising someone, or finding fault with them, as often as we feel like, but tend to withhold loving words and actions because we somehow feel it is 'unnatural' or we would be overdoing it. But the most loving things are done spontaneously and as often as we feel the need to do them, not according to particular schedules.

2. Tell her what a difference she's made to your life.
This is a very important aspect, to AFFIRM someone and to let them know, constantly, how their presence has changed your life. We become different people the minute we meet someone because we are happier, more joyful, more purposeful and far more loving. We become more appreciative of ourselves and our lives. When things go sour, we tend to forget those early magical moments, but being with someone new, who really gives us butterflies, and adds meaning to our existence is always a life enhancing experience. Give regular thanks for it.

3. Walking hand in hand when outdoors.

Whatever you are doing, do it lovingly, especially walking together. Hug, hold hands, kiss her face now and then, kiss her hand, demonstrate that love to the world. Walking hand in hand gives a wonderful feeling of belonging, togetherness and joy. It encourages closeness while enjoying the activity together. Moreover, regular walking keeps the weight down and helps a far healthier lifestyle. I walk about 10 miles per week altogether and it is always magical walking with my boyfriend because the sheer joy of doing it together and feeling close makes it more appealing to do.

4. Praise and appreciate whatever she does as often as you can.
As relationships last longer, appreciation tends to gradually decline. We begin to take partners for granted, we seldom value what they do and we become meanspirited with praise and gratitude because we come to see those actions as automatic. Yet praising someone's efforts, no matter how small, helps to REINFORCE them, to value them and to remind us not to take anything for granted otherwise we might just lose it. Above all, it avoids a feeling of neglect.

5. Spend a whole weekend in bed shagging, chatting and loving.
This is the part that really gets thrown by the wayside, especially when kids are on the scene. But having a very healthy sex life especially a loving one, is crucial to communication vibrant and partners together. At least once each month a couple should spend a weekend in bed. Forget the chores, forget everything. Book a room in a hotel, if possible, and allow yourselves to be pampered.

Focus on you both because the two of you were there before the children. This would be a poignant reminder of why you came together in the first place: to love each other, not just to have a family. By keeping the focus on yourselves as a couple, and as a family, the balance is always maintained and no one would end up feeling neglected or unloved.

6. Steal up on her while she is doing something and kiss her neck.
This is a very loving act which is gentle, tender, caring and enjoyable. It means even when she might be preparing a meal, or sitting at the computer, you could reinforce that love. It doesn't have to be shown at a set time in a set room. It should form a natural part of your routine whenever you are together.

7. Leave little love notes around the home for her in unexpected places.

There is nothing more endearing than loving surprises, especially when one least expects them. Leaving little messages of love, sending spontaneous texts, or just taking time out of a busy day to call to say 'I'm thinking of you' would really make that person feel special.

It just takes a little imagination to makes someone feel loved and desired. Though those actions might not come easily, or might seem trivial, to someone in a stale relationship yearning for the good old days, they might be like gold dust. Courting shouldn't stop when the two people marry or settle together. That is the time the real courtship should begin to keep that romance fire burning brightly for a long time to come.

Keeping the romance alive after having kids


When children arrive, they can be very demanding in a family and usually it's the fathers who are squeezed out of the attention while mothers are often tired and overwhelmed. Most important, privacy between the couple is lost, as they are no longer free to love each other at any time they wish and do what comes naturally. The sober point to remember is that the children will be leaving one day to live their own lives, with their own partners, while Mom and Dad will be left to continue their lives together. 

It is thus important to keep that love fire burning solidly so that there is a loving atmosphere for the family and fewer surprises when the children leave home. Worse still, in 65% of divorces, the parties have children under 11. It is thus imperative for parents to find ways for romance while the children are there in order to enjoy their time together and keep their relationship intact.

There are 10 great ways to keep romance alive after the children come on the scene.

1. Share the chores: If both parents can do the chores it means more time for the homemaker or the parent who looks after the children most. It means that carer won't be too tired every day and there will be much more time for each other.

2. Snatch as many hugs and cuddles as you can, even in front of the children. When you hug and embrace in front of  children you give a powerful message about love in the family and its place in it, especially if you hug them too when you can. Make it a point of taking a few seconds to reconnect together at the end of a work day; to be close together and just appreciate each other's presence. This can often be done when the children are engrossed in TV, they are playing or asleep. But each day should have some hugs in it which could very well lead to other things.

3. Communicate via email or text if there is no chance to communicate in person. Send little loving messages when you can, and as often as possible. When a partner is at the computer, it is an excellent time to use any excuse to rub their back, hug them tightly or just stand close to them and exchange meaningful looks while they are working.

4. Take a shower together. Not only is this very sexy and erotic but it gives you both the chance to enjoy each other's bodies and to have some privacy for a fleeting moment when the children are absorbed in whatever they are doing, or they are asleep. A shower offers excellent opportunity for using one's initiative while getting up close and personal!

5. Have a candle-lit meal together, regularly, especially when you can't get a sitter or the children are in bed. It's the most romantic time just focusing on each other while you enjoy some quality time without being disturbed. It is hardest finding time when there are teens around but with some ingenuity, a lot of things are possible.

6. If children are at school, take some time out during an afternoon to have a leisurely lunch and perhaps see a movie or return home for some lovemaking. No household chore is more important than your partnership so use any time like this to reconnect together in the most enjoyable ways possible.

7. Try to go to bed at the same time together. It not only gives some time to talk and communicate with each other, especially about your day, but it also provides more opportunity to relax together and be more loving.

8. Try to have spontaneous sex anywhere in the house, not just in the usual bedroom. It gives a risque feeling of excitement, it stops one's sex life from becoming too boring and routine and it makes use of special moment available to affirm your love and your value for each other.

9. If you are feeling detached from one another, light a single candle in the bedroom with the understanding that whenever it is lit by either of you, it is really time to do something together. It will be a reminder that you both need to make time for each other before you are swallowed up in the minutiae of living.

10. Try to look after yourself and keep yourself in good shape. It is easy to let one's self go after the children come on the scene but by keeping yourself looking smart and attractive you will always keep the attention of your partner on you. Just making the effort on special occasions is better than not trying at all.

One of the main reasons couples fall out is through simple neglect. Couples take each other for granted and before one realises it, the other party is getting that attention from somewhere else. Attention and appreciation keeps partners together. 

Six More Essentials In Any Relationship


There are many essential elements which make for a successful relationship and which are not too easy to recognise. Some time ago I worked out the top 12, through research on my websites. The top six are outlined here, but the next set of six, listed below, are also important:

1. Respect: This is a key value, though one cannot be certain there is proper respect until some time has elapsed, because most parties will do anything to please in the first few days or weeks. The real person gradually reveals him/herself over many weeks or months. However, respect is assumed if the top 6 elements (covered elsewhere) are in place, unless they're not, which suggests very little respect, indeed. Hidden within the value of respect is courtesy and sensitivity. I loathe discourteous behaviour in others simply because I learnt from a young age that "Courtesy costs nothing. Give generously." Often it is not the actual things we say or do that really upset someone, but the discourteous and insensitive manner in which they are done.

When a relationship is on the rocks, respect is one of the first casualties to go. It is difficult to respect partners when we feel resentful towards them or we are frustrated and hurt by their behaviour. For some people, respect will be right at the top, but my reasoning for putting it much lower in the order of my 12 essential elements is that someone can respect me highly but, if none of the other top values are present, no amount of respect will let me love them. That is why many potential love affairs stay on a friendship level because these bottom group of values might be present between two people, but they would not have the top ones there to bolster them and move them into the 'love' territory.

2. Acceptance: Are you living your life constantly trying to please someone else, wearing only what they suggest, dressing only to please them, seeking their approval daily? Then you are not being accepted for who you are in your relationship. One main offshoot of that is you are likely to constantly feel inadequate and not being able to do anything right. You will feel controlled and impotent to do things or behave in ways which reflect your desires and what you want to do. Worst of all, your growth will be retarded because you need someone else's permission for doing the basic things which give you joy. For example, if you like wearing bright colours but are living with someone who hates bright colours, then you made the wrong choice because your personality will always feel repressed. Anyone who wants you must like you, warts and all. Otherwise there will be little respect.

3. Being Tactile: This is another beautiful word many people love to use without quite knowing what it means. But if you have never used it before it is perfect for describing the tangible and external elements of being in love. To be tactile means you love to hold someone, to hug them, to draw them close, to be emotionally expressive with them, no matter where you are at that moment in time. You find it hard to keep your hands to yourself with your partner – a wonderful expression of love. Some people don't like too much touching but I wouldn't go near anyone who doesn't want to hold or hug me because I am a natural hugger. I love to be embraced and also like people who are romantic. When we make the extra effort to show people we care about them, they are likely to make the effort to return that compliment.

4. Encouragement: Do you feel encouraged by your partner? Often jealousy and insecurity prevent us from supporting and encouraging our spouses. Yet, any partnership should lay the foundation for a mutual journey together where the couple can achieve far more than they would have done as single people. When we choose not to support our partners, what are we actually saying about ourselves and our feelings of worth? Again, if we expect encouragement but give none, what message are we giving to our lovers about their own growth and fulfilment? Perhaps encouragement matters to you so much, it would be in your top 6, not this bottom group. That is fine. However, if it is essential to you, then teaming up with someone who is mean with praise or encouragement will be like a nightmare for you because you will always feel unappreciated and undervalued, one of the biggest causes of unhappiness in relationships.

5. Generosity: This value is not just associated with money. Generosity involves giving of the self, whatever we have, including our love and feelings, to another. People who are mean with things tend to be mean with themselves and their emotions too, what I call the 'emotionally constipated types'. There is no place for selfishness in a relationship. People come together to share, not to remain the same way as when they were single. If that is the case why bother with a relationship at all? That's just using the other person. A desire to share and be supportive is at the heart of generosity. If your loved one won't support your dreams, aspirations or achievements, that is not a foundation for any long-term relationship. Soon resentment will creep in and erode all the love.

6. Non-Controlling: I tend to attract controllers, for some reason, so all the key men in my life have scored highly on controlling behaviour. There is always some control when one party is passive, or is seeking approval, but too much control tends to spill over into restrictiveness, repression and ultimately violence. The more flexible and relaxed a partner is, the lesser the desire to control which makes for greater equality and respect between the couple. My current friend is so laid back and easy to get on with, he could be almost horizontal, yet he is also very protective. It's magical to spend time with him. One test for the level of control in a relationship is this question: How do you feel if your partner talks about his/her former lovers/partners? If you feel at all jealous, when they are in the past and are a crucial part of your lover's history, that is a form of insecurity and control. As long as you are not being compared unfavourably, that's fine.

Every person we have ever had in our life, for whatever reason, has taught us something and helped to make us what we are. To then deny their presence in our life, or deliberately ignore their part of our journey, merely to please someone else, is not very good to the health of a relationship, because it is tied up with Acceptance and Respect. We cannot accept someone or respect them, if we want them to reject the people they know or pretend they did not exist. So long as they are not still rivals, people should be encouraged to celebrate their past, to be proud of it, to talk about it, learn from it and move on, not made to feel guilty or ashamed of it. That only erodes personal confidence and self-esteem. Worse still it is a denial of that person's existence for what we would like it to be.

Score yourself out of 5 for each aspect and see how you fare. Your score out of 30 is a pointer to the current state of your relationship, especially what is missing from it. Anything over 20 points is very good. Under 20 and you are in shaky ground and need to take remedial action.

Under 12 points, and if you are not heading for the divorce courts already, sad to say, it could just be a matter of time. Too many things you both care about would be missing. The most fascinating exercise is for you and your partner to do the rating separately, according to your individual perceptions, and exchange notes afterwards. I guarantee that, if things are not too wonderful in the relationship, you will both need a referee!!

The top romantic surprises for Valentine's Day


Everyone loves a surprise, especially when they are in love, feeling heady and just want to be valued and appreciated. There are tons of things a couple can do to keep the love fires burning and prevent their relationship settling into a dull routine. The following 12 suggestions are some of the best ones.

1. Write on paper, or send your date a surprise email, the 50 things you like the most about them! This serves two main purposes: to affirm the great qualities you can see in your partner, things they might not even be aware of themself, and to make you appear more loving, discerning and caring.

2. Hide little romantic post-it love notes wherever you can, especially in places they would not expect such notes: in the fridge, in a toolbox, in handbags, in pockets, etc. No matter where they are in the home they would find something unexpected, affirming and loving to read.

3. Fill your lover's car with as many balloons as possible and have a laugh watching her/him trying to get inside amid the balloons. Better still, take a photo of them among the array of colour to enjoy together.

4. Have a romantic bubble bath together, by candlelight and with champagne. But the real surprise will be the love note you will have put in a small plastic bottle for them to find which would be floating beneath the bubbles!

5. If your loved one appreciates a good romantic story, a super surprise will be a personalised novel as a gift for them which tells a love story using both your names! You can then take turns in reading excerpts to each other when you are cuddled up together.

6. Buy or make a nice little card, put a dried rose in it, write a heartfelt love note in it and send it by snail-mail to your date. He/She would not be expecting that in the post at all so it would come as a real romantic surprise when it finally arrives.

7. Place a single rose, or any other romantic item of endearment in their car on the driver's seat so that they have to remove it to sit down; they wouldn't miss it. Attach a message like "You are as special to me as this rose", or "You're one of a kind and you are in my life. Am I lucky or wot?"

8. Do something entirely unexpected for your lover, especially something they might have asked you to do in the past, or something you have noticed need doing like washing their car, doing the shopping, buying something surprising or taking them out for a spontaneous meal. Anything that shows love and concern is definitely one to try.

9. Pick a day of the week to call your partner and ask them to tell you whatever they would like you to bring home for them. This can be anything they might have longed for or cannot get themself.

10. Always praise your partner spontaneously by appreciating the little things they do for you. In this way, the relationship will focus on the positives and your partner will feel valued and reinforced in their actions. Praise is very empowering because we tend to take others for granted. By valuing a partner through regular, unexpected compliments it is a most romantic gesture.

11. Buy tickets for an event you know your partner really wishes to see and might have mentioned, or for a favourite singer or artist. It shows care and attention for your date, especially in noting what matters to them.

12. Pamper your mate at every turn. Give massages, take hot baths together, always hug, cuddle, touch, do things for them and be alert to their needs. Spoil them as much as possible. If the are spoiling and pampering you too, that's a magical match, full of love and romance, and to be fully enjoyed!

What To Do When The Ring Is Clearly Wrong


Q. We're both 41, previously married. He has lived with me nearly 2 yrs. Proposed unromantically standing in kitchen with a ring my aunt gave him which was bought from a pawn shop. Thought maybe he's not romantic, but found out he proposed to ex wife with balloons she had to pop to find message inside. Shows he can be romantic. Almost 4 months later he hasn't expressed interest in setting a date. He has done very little for me overall.

A. People can only treat us the way we treat ourselves and the fact that you keep comparing how he treats you to his other wife suggests that you are low in confidence and esteem and do not feel good because your constant comparisons make you feel even more inadequate. But you should not even have been noticing his ex. His proposal, or time spent with you, is not a competition where you are the judge and you have to continually mark his progress for him to be worthy. Time to leave his past and concentrate on your present. That relationship failed so why would you be jealous of her? You are the one with him now, not her.

From his slow actions, the type of ring he gave you and the way he has done things, it does not appear that he really loves you. I think you sense that but fear losing him too, so you blame him for your disappointment instead of leaving him to his life. We can never change anyone in their behavior. We can only change ourselves. I think you might have a decision to make so please stop right there and start again, perhaps in this suggested way.

Ask yourself what it is that you want from this guy, not just what HE wants, but what suits you. It is not about him. It's about you to begin with. If you really care about him, then decide how you wish to be treated. If you seem to be interested in being treated less than the best, that's how he will continue to treat you because all you do is reinforce his actions when you accept them without complaint. You have to set the the boundaries and the standards and those boundaries should have nothing to do with the past or anyone else, but only to do with you both and where you are heading.

Currently you are just noticing his actions but not noticing the negative way you are acting too. How have you made him feel loved recently? When did you last praise him or appreciate anything he has done for you? Your actions are important too in the equation. Talk to him about the future and, if he still seems reluctant, get out of there. Start believing in you, loving yourself, and deciding what you really want and the right person will come along for you... as night follows day. But you have to know what you want and seek it because it might literally be under your nose and you don't know it!

Love is unconditional. It is not dependent upon one person doing anything in particular, and it certainly does not depend upon expensive things or whatever. It depends on what comes from the heart, especially when both parties share commitment, respect and love. It seems that both of you are a little superficial just now and need to go back to the basics of what you really mean to each other, if at all, before you can really talk of a future.

How to keep hope alive during a marriage crisis


It is a most stressful time when there is a marriage crisis because it is easy to feel that one's world is falling apart, slowly and menacing;y. There is often a lot of anger, resentment, blaming, confusion and bitterness. At times it can seem that everything is finished and there's no real way out, because there will be a lot of fear, anxiety and insecurity on both sides.  However, even in the worst circumstances, there is always hope. The trick is to know how to keep hope alive to the finish and that depends on five key factors.

 1. Communication
This needs a lot of time and sensitivity, especially if the other party might want to leave the home as quickly as possible. Keeping them engaged is very important. Regardless of the level of animosity between the couple, so long as both partners wish the marriage to continue that gives the strongest hope of a positive outcome. It means the couple will be more willing to talk and talk and talk: to communicate more with each other, to actually listen to one another, to affirm and validate each other and to accept each individual position with greater empathy and understanding.

Often communicating is almost impossible when people have been hurt, when they believe they have been wronged, or when one partner can sense that the other has selective hearing. But at crisis moments like these, communication is the most important tool in keeping hope alive, because as long as the parties are talking, there is some hope of reconciling and even agreeing.

 2. Keep Focused on the Present
Keeping focused means keeping out of the past. Whatever has caused the rift, and the anger has already happened, it cannot be undone. The only course open is to discuss why it happened, what pain it caused, so that the pain and the effects on the couple and/or family are fully acknowledged, the lessons that can be learned from it, and end with a promise to forgive and move on. So long as the couple keeps on about what happened for the sake of it, without any kind of closure, the emotional wound will stay open and the pain will be prolonged, which tend to make both parties feel overwhelmed. Keeping focused helps to keep priorities in view and it keeps hope at the forefront, because there is then the possibility of moving on, primarily through forgiveness and a determination to put the past behind and start anew. 

3. Stop Blaming
Regardless of who is at fault that really doesn't matter for the present. The offender cannot undo the damage but they can use it as a learning experience and pledge better and more sensitive action for the future. Continually placing the blame on one person negates the whole idea of trying to reconcile and merely provides handy scapegoats for pain, anger and bitterness. Both parties should decide which is more important to them: keeping the marriage intact, and from a better basis of understanding and genuine respect, or finding scapegoats to make themselves feel better but which resolves nothing. Once the priority is established the parties can be more hopeful that the outcome will be mutually agreeable.

4. Acceptance
The one thing that really turns hope into concrete results is full acceptance of the other person: especially their feelings, their hurt, their anger, pain and general emotional experience. It means whether one agrees with the other person or not, the way they FEEL about the situation has to be acknowledged, respected, even if it is not fully accepted. Even when one party might feel that the other is behaving unreasonably. They deserve that acceptance because they are entitled to those feelings. They alone know what is going on inside their head. If we deny people their emotions we repress their uniqueness in favour of our feelings and what we want; we also deny their hurt and deny them closure on their terms, instead of ours.

Once there is acceptance and reinforcement, the other party is more likely to see our point of view too. But without such acceptance, feelings remain negative, in a continuing morass of resentment, and become difficult to reconcile. Full acceptance of each other means it is okay to cry, to shout, to scream, to feel confused, bewildered and shocked by the situation, and lots of negative things might be said without anyone being judged. They are all part of the process of understanding the situation, of coping with it and working towards acceptance of it too.

5. Positivity
This is a very important part of keeping hope alive, and a difficult part too. After all, one is trying to be positive in the face of a crisis which could finish one's marriage/relationship, especially if there are children involved. But if one is not positive, hope cannot thrive because negativity builds nothing. It simply destroys. If the other party is not too keen on keeping the marriage, it would be an uphill task for you. It means you will have to do most of the work to bring that person round to your perspective. 

Being positive, affirming and sensitive are key words to help you in your goal. Additionally, while the communication is going on, expand your own life with new activities and new friends so that you will feel supported and be kept grounded in what you have to do. New activities will also bring a fresh perspective to your life. If you keep yourself busy, talk a lot with your partner, accept and encourage him/her to move forward and also have the expectation that you will reconcile your differences, your hope should turn into reality and the crisis should also pass. 

 The main thing ti remember is that for these five factors to really work, the other person has to be willing to do them as well. Otherwise both parties will remain stuck in the mud of negativity without making the situation any better.