Here are 7 keys to keeping your finger on the pulse of your relationship:
1) Work on expanding your awareness of your own tendencies. Learn more about your personality type and what makes you tick. Begin to recognize when you get angry, hurt, or frustrated, when you feel happy, melancholy or content. This awareness comes from actively watching your own thoughts and behavior and perhaps asking questions about yourself with your partner. We all hate to be judged and criticized; however, you must be open to understanding your good and not-so good sides and be willing to shift a little to please your mate. Ultimatey, you will be happier also.
2) Determine to know what makes your partner happy and what ticks him off. Find out where his joy comes from and also his frustrations. Let him know in affirming ways that you understand and appreciate him. In Steven Covey's book, "7 Habits for Highly Successful People" the author spends an entire chapter on "Seeking to Understand" people, situations, etc. Understanding is key to dealing with anyone or anything. This goes for both sexes. Each person has to be his or her best for the relationship to be successful.
3) Learn how to better communicate from your feelings and observations in a loving way. Withdrawing is the biggest clue that a man is either unhappy or needs time alone. Women tend to snap, yell, nag or cry when they are upset about something. Practice expressing your desire to talk things out so you can move on. Some issues in a relationship can be fixed quickly as long as the other person understands what's causing the frustration or anxiety. A friend of mine told me that her husband lets her know right away if he is bugged by something. She is grateful that he let's her know and doesn't take it personally. She is lucky that her husband loves her enough to communicate his feelings and needs. Men, take note!
My own mother used to slam cabinets when she was angry. Since I grew up learning this, I used to use this tactic to express my anger. Thank God I grew up and learned how dumb this is. Now I simply say, "You know…this is bothering me…". If you express your feelings rather than attacking the other person, you have a far better chance of resolving issues quickly. Also, noone can deny your feelings. If they are true, they need to be dealt with.
4) Have your partner's back. This is LOVE. If you are in a committed relationship – particularly a marriage – you should always be concerned about that person's well-being. You should be the one in his or her corner. This might mean you have to change something about yourself to help your partner. They should know that you are always on their side and that you would do everything in your power to assist them in their life journey. Anything less than this is one-sided and will show up rather quickly in a weak marriage. I have always felt my husband's protection and concern for my well-being. It's give and take though. I'm not suggesting one person makes all the changes.
5) Read "The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts"
by: Gary Chapman. This book gives you ideas into the nature of yourself and your partner. It spells out certain things which make us feel loved and respected. Having this knowldege can make a world of difference in how you behave towards your lover. Marriages have been saved by this book! There are many others as well. "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: A Practical Guide for Improving Communication and Getting What You Want in Your Relationships" by John Gray, Ph.D. and, "Boundaries: When to Say YES, When to Say NO, To Take Control of Your Life" by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. These resources are invaluable for building and maintaining good relationships. Some successful couple attend marriage workshops and retreats – another great way to learn better communication skills.
6) Men need RESPECT above all things. Women need to feel LOVED and cared for. When a woman disses her man in public, it is completely humiliating. I did this early in our marriage. When my husband would be telling a story, I was quick to correct him in front of all his friends as I felt he was embellishing a bit much. It used to drive him crazy. Once I discovered what I was doing and that it was hurting him, I stopped. A man will only put up with disrespect for so long. If it continues, he will withdraw and start losing interest. On the other hand, if a man wants to be respected, he should be worthy of respect. Same goes for both sexes.
A woman needs love and intimacy. She wants to feel special, so if she doesn't, she might be less than friendly in the bedroom or the car or the kitchen! There's a balance to things, so men don't need to over-do it; they just need to show their love in subtle ways. Women also want to feel protected. Nowadays, women tend to act as if they don't need men. The last thing a man wants is a woman who doesn't need him. I'm not talking about a "needy" woman who can't function on her own. What I'm saying is that men like to feel needed. We all do.
7) Take all this into consideration with your other relationships as well. Keep your finger on the pulse of your relationship with your children. They can benefit from your ability to be open and vulnerable with them. They can appreciate respect and love and honest communication. Model good behavior and let them know in a loving way that you need to see a change in their behavior.
When my "tween" daughter began to smart off to me, I took her aside and had a chat with her. I told her I understood her need to be independent and all, but that her attitude wasn't working for me. I said, "If you want to do fun things with me and continue to have a good relationship, you're going to have to be more respectful; otherwise, I have other important things to do." I never had a problem with her again. She was the model teenager and became an amazing young woman.
The main idea is to be loving, caring, compassionate and honest. If you have certain needs which need to be met, say something. Spend time learning to understand and appreciate your mate. Be respectful. Keep in mind that life is short and you want to leave a sweet legacy behind for all of those you love.