Play to Your Strengths

What's wrong with your relationship? Better yet, what's right? No one is perfect. But if you're constantly looking for your sweetheart's flaws, you're sure to find some. Likewise, if you're continually focusing on what you appreciate about her, you'll find plenty to be pleased about.

Whether you're currently feeling doubtful or grateful about your lover, there are ways you can keep your relationship on a growth curve instead of a downward spiral. Try these strategies.

Practice Courtesy
Think about how you would act if it was your first date. You'd say "please" and "thank you." You'd let her go first and hold the door for her. You'd hold back your criticism and be on your best behavior. Obviously, in a long-term relationship you want to be able to relax a bit more and simply be yourself. But try harder to be the best you rather than the worst you.

Listen Well
Your lover wants a man who will listen to her frustrations without trying to fix them. She wants a man who makes her feel safe when she shares her emotions, even if she's just talking in a stream of consciousness. Just let her talk it out. If you help her feel secure in expressing her feelings, she'll move beyond complaints and onto sharing her appreciation for you.

Communicate Gently
Of course you'll need to let your sweetheart know when she's stepped over the line and planned something "frou frou" for Superbowl Sunday. Or when you really don't want to spend all day at her friend's farm two hours away. But tell her with kindness and sensitivity. Don't let anger and sarcasm take over. She'll be more likely to hear you if you express your differences in a calm, caring way.

Tally the Wins
Let your lover know each day something she's done right. Express how much you appreciate her cooking healthy food for you or taking the dog to the vets. Show her that you don't take her efforts for granted. And try to reciprocate. Take her car to the carwash or take the dog for a walk. Step out of your box and let her know you recognize her contributions and want to give her a break.

When you find yourself feeling frustrated or resentful, mentally list the positives your sweetie brings to your partnership. Smiling and laughter are more likely to bring out similar emotions in your lover than criticism and anger. Your goal is to see your relationship glass at least half full rather than half empty. Then the positives will flow more freely. Cheers!

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