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1. Use relationships to teach you how to be whole within.

Relationships aren’t about having another person complete you, but coming to the relationship whole and sharing your life interdependently. By letting go of the romantic ideal of merging and becoming “one,” you learn as Rainer Maria Rilke says, to love the distances in relationship as much as the togetherness.

2. See your partner for who he or she really is.

The romantic tragedy occurs when you view the person you are in love with as a symbol of what they have come to represent, the idea of them. When you realize that more often than not you don’t really know your partner, you begin to discover who they are and how they change and evolve.

3. Be willing to learn from each other.

The key is to see the other as a mirror and learn from the reflection how you can be a better person. When you feel upset, rather than blame your partner and point fingers, remain awake to what has yet to be healed in yourself.

4. Get comfortable being alone.

In order to accept that love can’t rescue you from being alone, learn to spend time being with yourself. By feeling safe and secure to be on your own within the framework of relationship, you will feel more complete, happy, and whole.

5. Look closely at why a fight may begin.

Some couples create separateness by fighting and then making up over and over again. This allows you to continue the romantic trance, creating drama and avoiding real intimacy. If you become aware of what you fear about intimacy, you’ll have a better sense of why you’re fighting—and likely will fight far less.

6. Own who you are.

We generally grasp at romantic love because we’re yearning for something that is out of reach, something in another person that we don’t think we possess in ourselves. Unfortunately, when we finally get love, we discover that we didn’t get what we were looking for.

True love only exists by loving yourself first. You can only get from another person what you’re willing to give yourself.

7. Embrace ordinariness.

After the fairy-dust start of a relationship ends, we discover ordinariness, and we often do everything we can to avoid it. The trick is to see that ordinariness can become the real “juice” of intimacy. The day-to-day loveliness of sharing life with a partner can, and does, become extraordinary.

8. Expand your heart.

One thing that unites us is that we all long to be happy. This happiness usually includes the desire to be close to someone in a loving way. To create real intimacy, get in touch with the spaciousness of your heart and bring awareness to what is good within you.

It’s easier to recognize the good in your partner when you’re connected to the good in yourself.

9. Focus on giving love.

Genuine happiness is not about feeling good about ourselves because other people love us; it’s more about how well we have loved ourselves and others. The unintentional outcome of loving others more deeply is that we are loved more deeply.
10. Let go of expectations.

You may look to things such as romance and constant togetherness to fill a void in yourself. This will immediately cause suffering. If you unconsciously expect to receive love in certain ways to avoid giving that love to yourself, you will put your sense of security in someone else.

Draw upon your own inner-resources to offer love, attention, and nurturance to yourself when you need it. Then you can let love come to you instead of putting expectations on what it needs to look like.
A happy marriage is just like a healthy plant. If you give the plant water, sun and air, it blossoms. A marriage requires an equal amount of nurturing if it is to blossom. As much as it is hard to accept, a nice wedding and the good intentions you have to stay together forever are not enough to produce a successful, happy marriage. The excitement and joy that newly-wed couples often experience tend to wear off within the first year of marriage and so, if you want to celebrate your 50th anniversary with your partner one day, you both need to make a conscious decision to “water” your relationship. To reach such as stage is a wonderful thing. The thought of reaching our 50th anniversary means more to me now than ever before, because my mom and dad just recently celebrated their 50th anniversary. I am so happy for them, and even more determined now to do the same. 

When I coach couples on the verge of divorce, I find that generally, each individual is not happy within himself or herself and so their attempts to make each other happy are futile, because being happy as an individual is the first step. 

As I have written many times on this blog, in newsletters and said in workshops, for any relationship to be happy, first each party must learn how to be happy individually. 

I recommend to all couples that come to me for coaching that they create and then share a list of 50 things that make each one of them happy. It is quite incredible to see just how surprised most of them are when they read their partner’s list. Most times, many of the items on the list are simple, cheap and even free. Without fail, the reaction I always get is, “It is so easy to make my partner happy, if only I had known earlier…” 

Life is much easier when you know the things that make you and your partner happy. Here is a list of 30 things husbands can do to make their wives happy and 30 things wives can do to make their husbands happy. Please remember, the list here is just a start. It is also a bit stereotypical, so feel free to swap items with your partner and do what works for you. 

30 ways to keep her happy

Happy womanSMS her some love during the day.

Help her fill in her 12-hugs-a-day tank with lots of hugs (and kisses).

Cook dinner from time to time. Husbands who cook have happier marriages.

Stay and help while cleaning up after meals. Many couples fight over cleaning up. If you do it together, it will take half the time, become part of your quality time and then leave more time for romance.

Find a loving nickname for her.

Say “I love you” when you meet and when you say good-bye.

Mark special dates on your calendar. There are not that many dates to remember: mainly her birthday and your wedding anniversary. But if you really want to be a super husband, remember the date that you first became a couple.

Take the kids out on your own from time to time to give her some space. It can be as simple as offering some time off on the weekend to allow her to sleep in a little bit longer, or as easy as organizing an evening out with the kids.

When she is upset, listen to her but do not try to give advice (unless she asks for it).

Tell her how much you love to touch and smell her.

Invite her to a movie or a restaurant like you would have if you were dating.

Write her love notes and put them in places where she would not expect to find them, like inside the laundry basket, on the mirror in the bathroom, inside her wallet or on the visor in her car.

Shower the kids or read them a story. I have to say that having watched my husband doing these things for many years with our children makes me love him more and more everyday. It is such a simple, beautiful thing to see father and kids reading a story together, that it makes the entire family happy.

Offer some technical help if she is struggling with remotes, computers or electrical wiring.

Say something nice about her choice in clothes.

Bring her flowers.

Give her a massage.

You are strong and manly. Take the garbage out.

Bring home dinner from time to time as a surprise. Try not to do this if she has already prepared a dinner. It is always better to check first and make sure the dinner is not all ready yet.

Tell her “I trust you to…” Any positive ending to this sentence works miracles in any relationship. Count how many times you say this phrase during your relationship and I am sure you will find it much easier to spend many happy years together.

Give her a kiss for no reason. Kiss for the love of kissing. Kiss in the morning and remember to always, always, always kiss at night before you fall asleep, even (especially) if you have just had a fight.

Stay cool when she is having a long phone conversation with her girlfriend, mom or sister. These phone calls are a way for her to work things out and get emotional support. They are good for you…

Bring home a sexy movie from the video shop to watch together.

Learn how to use the washing machine and use it without being asked.

Go shopping with her if she asks you to. Consider this quality time. You can do the grocery shopping while you talk together about your plans and dreams.

Clean the toilet from time to time.

Bring her small gifts.

Hold her hand even when there are people around. It is a public display of affection and this is important to her.

Initiate weekends away.

Keep a photo of her in your wallet.

30 ways to keep him happy

Happy manGive him some time to watch his favorite TV show (OK, shows).

Invite his friends over for a BBQ.

Tell him how much you love the way he touches you.

Have dinner ready when he comes home from work. Add candles even if there are kids sitting at the table. It is good for them to watch mom and dad expressing their love.

Call him during the day and whisper loving things into the phone.

Offer him his favorite drink.

Tell him how much you love him. Say “I love you” when you meet and when you say good-bye, even on the phone.

Ask him about his day and listen.

When you go shopping, ask him if he wants you to get him something.

Do not tell him he is a baby when he is sick and has “man cold” (the kind of cold that, if you were to have, would make you feel a bit off, but could easily kill him…). Grown men need attention and being sick is their way of getting it when nothing else seems to work.

Tell him he is right sometimes.

Buy yourself a sexy outfit. It will make your husband very happy. You are actually buying it as a present for him, as he is the one who will ultimately take it off.

Give him a massage.

Tell him he smells good.

Make him his favorite dish and remember to tell him that you chose the dish especially for him.

Wash his car as a surprise (or get the kids to do it for a double bonus).

If he is busy and has to miss a TV show that he likes, record it for him.

Tell him how much you appreciate his efforts to come home early, to spend time with the kids, to help, etc.

Ask him, “Is there anything I can do to help?”

Go shopping with him if he wants you to.

Get him his favorite after-shave before his old bottle runs out.

Smile.

Suggest from time to time that he go out with his friends.

Keep his photo in your wallet.

Make a genuine effort to get along with his mom.

Put his trophies in a prominent place and proudly show them to visitors.

Send him loving, suggestive emails.

Tell him he is the best dad to your kids, more than you could ever ask for.

Touch him from time to time. When he is busy, just walk up to him and run your fingers through his hair.

Prepare his lunch box for the day.

Newly-wed couple on beach 

As you can see, there are probably as many items that can be added to these lists as there are couples in the world. Each one of us has different desires and expectations of a relationship. It is easier to obtain your desired life if the other party also helps work to make the marriage a happy one. The longer the list of things you have that you can do to make your partner happy, the longer your marriage will be. These lists are just the beginning. Make your own lists and start making your marriage a happy and fulfilling one. 

Be Certain You Want to Get Divorced

While this may seem obvious, the decision to get divorced is an emotional one, and shouldn’t be made when you’re feeling overly emotional. Make sure you’ve exhausted all hope of reconciliation before you file for divorce. Once you’ve served your spouse with divorce papers, it can be difficult to go back on that decision, even if you’ve changed your mind. The court can grant a divorce even if only one spouse wants to end the marriage. If you’d still like to give marital counseling a try, do so before you file for divorce.

Interview Attorneys

It’s a good idea to interview more than one attorney before you decide to file for divorce. You’ll want to work with an attorney that fits your style, and understands your goals for litigation. Avoid lawyers who offer you solutions before listening to the particular facts of your case. Attorneys come at different price points and experience levels. If your divorce is likely to be messy or deals with specific types of assets, be sure your attorney is qualified to handle your particular case. For more information, see What to Look for in a Divorce Lawyer. 

Gather Financial Documents

Divorce cases depend heavily on documentation. Your financial account records, phone records, mortgages, and car notes are all likely relevant to the divorce. To the extent possible, gather all the documents you’ll need for your case before filing for divorce. If you and your spouse have a shared file of paper records in your home, make copies of everything before meeting with your attorney. It’s also smart to obtain records of your shared online accounts. Not all spouses react well to being served with divorce papers, and some will make it difficult to access documents after you’ve filed. Save yourself potential future headaches by getting your hands on the documents ahead of time. 

Determine Your Goals for Custody

If you have children, their custody situation is probably at the forefront of your mind when getting a divorce. You should know that, absent extreme circumstances, you and your spouse will end up sharing custody of the children. It’s a good idea to sit down and carefully review your work schedule, your children’s schedule, and your other obligations and come up with your desired schedule for custody. If you can come up with a arrangement that gives both you and your spouse time with the children, you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of most people who file for divorce. 

Make Necessary Purchases or Sales

In most jurisdictions, the judge automatically issues an order at the beginning of your divorce case that prohibits you or your spouse from selling, buying, or otherwise encumbering or disposing of any marital property. Courts do this to prevent either spouse from draining the bank accounts, or dissipating the marital estate out of spite. 

If you’ve long been meaning to upgrade your car, or sell a rental property, you’ll be prevented from doing so if you file for divorce first. While it’s not appropriate to drain the bank accounts before filing for divorce (as that can come back to bite you), if you have a legitimate sale or purchase that’s been in the works, it’s best to complete it before filing for divorce. 

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Figure Out Your Living Situation

Do you want to stay in the same house with your spouse during the divorce? Do you plan to move elsewhere? Do you want your spouse to move out? Decide what your goals are for your living situation, both during and after the divorce. How you behave in the weeks and months leading up to your divorce can affect your chances of winning use of the marital residence during the divorce. For example, moving in with a relative or friend in the weeks leading up to your divorce won’t help your chances of staying in the residence during the divorce. Speak with your attorney about how to best position yourself for the living situation you desire. Click here to find out more about housing issues during divorce. 

Talk to an Attorney About Joint Bank Accounts and Credit Cards

Depending on how you and your spouse handle your joint financial accounts and credit cards, your attorney may advise you to close the accounts or leave them the same. You don’t want to be in a situation where your spouse has the ability to run up bills in your name or drain the bank accounts – both circumstances may take the entire divorce to sort out. Your attorney can best advise you about whether you should divide the accounts in half, close them, or leave them the same before filing for divorce. 

Don’t Live Like You’re Single

Even if your marriage is for all intents and purposes over, refrain from living the single life prior to filing for divorce. In most jurisdictions, even if you and your spouse are living separately, having a romantic relationship with another person is still considered adultery. Additionally, a judge may consider money you spend on a paramour dissipation of the marital estate, and could require you to reimburse your spouse for those expenditures. In any case, it typically doesn’t help your case to have started another relationship before your divorce has been filed. In some states you can begin a relationship after filing for divorce; speak with your attorney about how the court will view dating before your divorce is complete. See Divorce and Dating for more information. 

Prepare a Marital Balance Sheet

You can’t decide your financial goals for your divorce without having an accurate picture of your assets and debts. While it’s not usually necessary to hire an accountant prior to filing for divorce, it’s a good idea to put together a simple balance sheet showing all of your assets and debts. Include real property, cars, retirement accounts, bank accounts and other assets, as well as any mortgages, notes, credit cards, and other debts. This can give you an idea of what you and your spouse will split, and you can start working on your desired division of the marital estate. Determining your total assets can also help you set a budget for how much to spend on your attorney and the divorce litigation. 

One often overlooked aspect of divorce is the emotional toll it may take on you and your family. Just as important as hiring an attorney and obtaining relevant documents is surrounding yourself with people who can help you through this difficult time. 

Develop a Support Network

One often overlooked aspect of divorce is the emotional toll it may take on you and your family. Just as important as hiring an attorney and obtaining relevant documents is surrounding yourself with people who can help you through this difficult time. If you have the financial means, it can help to speak with a therapist or other mental health professional. At the very least, speak with friends who have been through divorce. Let your family and friends know that you’ll be leaning on them for advice and moral support. Being emotionally stable will better prepare you to make smart decisions as your divorce progresses.




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