Secrets of a happy couple - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

Secrets of a happy couple

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Posted: Monday, January 10, 2011 5:00 pm | Updated: 3:23 pm, Fri Sep 16, 2011.

Have you noticed the décor lately in nearly every store you enter? Valentines Day! Wow!

Christmas and New Years have come and gone. With all the commercialism of the couple's relationships, you tend to forget that it takes work to make a partnership rewarding. So, what's the key? How can you make your relationship healthy and happy?

Here are some key points:

Deepen trust: You cannot develop true intimacy without trust. In order to trust, you must allow yourself to be vulnerable. Mutual respect is essential. Establish common goals and objectives. Don't be competitive; be a team. Be a safe place for each other. In other words, share things with each other that you wouldn't share with anyone else. Also, give your partner the benefit of the doubt. Even when your partner says something hurtful try to assume that it was unintentional. Let go and forgive.

Communicate: Set aside time to share. Make this time special. Avoid volatile subjects that may create an argument. Share a funny story that happened at work, a current event that piqued your interest or share a dream like where you would like to take a vacation.

Be attentive: Be aware of what you do that positively impacts your partner. Then do that more often. Ask your partner what you can do today or this week that would make him or her feel special.

Effectively resolve conflict: Remember that successful partnerships are not free from conflict. Rather, happy couples learn how to "fight fair." Make "I" statements. Don't hit below the belt. Don't use universal language by stating "you always" or "you never." Don't gunnysack (bringing up arguments from the past). Always resist sarcasm. Sarcasm never makes a couple feel closer ... it pushes them apart. Compromise is key. And remember, your partner's view of reality is as real, even though it may differ from yours.

Take time for yourself: Strong relationships comprise of two individuals who are confident and whole ... individually. Happy couples not only balance time together with time apart, they use their individual time to replenish themselves. Find out what your vision, your passion and your purpose is in life and take time for it.

Be playful: Have fun. Be each others' cheerleader. Out of ideas? Then seek a therapist and read Secrets of a Happy Marriage and The 30 Secrets of Happily Married Couples.

Kristina Welker is a doctor of psychology, a licensed professional counselor and a member of the Ahwatukee Behavioral Health Network. Reach her at (480) 893-6767 or drkristinawelker@cox.net.

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