Relationship

10 Ways to Be Honest

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By James Altucher

– Give Credit. Even if the ideas were all yours. Even if you made nothing on them. Even if they were blatantly stolen. Give credit and move on. Hoarding your ideas for the moment when you can shine, will only leave by yourself in a dimly lit room.

– BE THE SOURCE. “But if I give ideas for free, what if they could’ve made a billion dollars. I always get screwed by my partners.” If you are the source of ideas then you are ALWAYS the source. Forget the losers who steal. Move on. You become THE fountain of ideas. People come to the fountain and make wishes and throw money in. Don’t be a trickle of dirty water. Be the fountain and let people know it by giving away all credit and rewards.

– Introduce Two People. Every day you can think of at least two people to introduce to each other that will help each other. You don’t have to be in the middle. “Take me off cc” you should say. Let them help each other. Let them benefit. You don’t need to be in the middle and benefit this time. You’ll benefit next time. Or the time after that. Even if it means giving up opportunities for yourself if you think someone else would be better for the job.

– Take the Blame. I messed up in October, 2008. I was going through separation, financial crisis, I was scared out of my mind. I was managing a little bit of money a hedge fund had allocated me. I was down that month. It was ground zero of the goddamn financial crisis. I would sleep in my hammock until it would rain and storm all over me and the next thing I would know the Dow was down another 700 points while I was soaked and sick and angry. The hedge fund manager called me at the end of the month and said, “look, I’ve called you 10 times and you didn’t return the call. Just return the call once and it would’ve been ok. Now I’ve got to take the money back.” He was right. We’re good friends now and have worked together since but it took a few years to build back the trust.

– Don’t lead a double life. Everything you do takes up space in your brain. If you live a double life (and you know what I mean if I’m talking to you) then that extra life takes up neurons and synapses working overtime. The brain can’t handle it. It starts to degrade instead of grow. Living a double lilfe might’ve given you momentary pleasure but now your brain is heading straight for the gutter. And your finances, which is a reflection of the health of your brain, will fall straight into the sewer with it.

Gandhi
Gandhi

– Don’t be Angry. Anger is a form of dishonesty. Nobody’s perfect. It’s a lie to expect the people around you to be perfect. Sometimes I’m angry at my kids. But they are just kids. Sometimes I’m angry at people I’m trying to do deals with. But they have their own motivations, fears, worries, anxieties. They don’t have to do everything I expect of them. So my anger is really a belief that they should do what I expect them to do. That’s lying to myself and dishonest in my expectations of them. Of course, you can’t control your anger. Sometimes it just happens. But note it for what it is, examine it, and try to turn it around, even just a little – in order to learn more about yourself rather than to blame someone else. That’s where the honesty will compound.

– No excuses. When I lost money in October, 2008 it was easy to blame a manipulated market and all the criminals that led it to be that way. When I lost millions of dollars in 2000 to the point of going completely broke and losing my home it was easy to blame an “Internet bust” and “corrupt CEOs” rather than my own lack of experience in the world of money. Excuses are easy lies we tell ourselves to cover up our failures. One such excuse is, “only dishonest people get ahead.” This is also a lie.

– Make Others Look Good. This is more than just giving credit. There’s a commonly quoted rule in management: “The Pareto Rule” – which states that 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. This is, in part, a product of an inferior standardized educational system where kids for 20 years are encouraged to do the minimum required to pass and make to the the next “level” on some imaginary ladder of success. But everyone wants to be acknowledged for small achievement. Take out your microscope. Acknowledge even the smallest accomplishments done by the people around you. Bring more and more of the people around you into the 20%. At heart, everyone wants to be perceived as special. That’s because everyone is special but are often never acknowledged that way. You be different. Be aware of the smallest movements around you and acknowledge them. Nobody will forget that.

– Don’t gossip. One time I trashed an entrepreneur I had invested in to another investor. Later that day I was supposed to have dinner with the entrepreneur. By that time, just four hours later, he had heard I trashed him. He never trusted me again. People always hear. And if they don’t hear, they feel, because word gets around. And you can’t predict this. And it’s another way of living a double life.

– Do what you say you’re going to do. Be that guy.

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How to charm the female mind

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By Chelsea Kaplan

Just like renowned thinker Sigmund Freud, many regular single men ponder the question, “What do women want?” — and find themselves dumbfounded. According to Kathy Freston, author of The One: Discovering the Secrets of Soul Mate Love, understanding the female mind isn’t actually that difficult. Need some direction? Here are her suggestions on how to understand — and woo — women.

Q: What is the number-one mistake that men make when trying to impress women?

A: When men feel insecure, they sometimes compensate by acting arrogantly or being grandiose. As much as bragging about your car, house or big bank account might initially get a woman’s attention, it will soon thereafter be a major turn-off. Women like confidence and security, but they know that when those qualities are real, a man doesn’t have to throw them around for show to impress anyone.

Q: What else would you warn men away from doing?

A: Another thing healthy women find unappealing is when a man is too needy, i.e., grabbing for too much of her attention and affection. That kind of behavior communicates that there is not much else going on for him in terms of friendships or intimate relations.

Q: But don’t many women want to be “needed” by men?

A: Sure, but there’s a fine line between “needing” a woman and being “needy.” No self-respecting lady wants to be the man’s “everything” in life! It is simply too much of a burden — and an impossible one to fulfill. If you want to find a loving, well-rounded, happy female partner, you need to be loving, well-rounded, and happy on your own and in your own unique ways as a man.

Q: How much does a man’s physical appearance count in terms of charming a woman?

A: Women value men who take care of themselves, just as men admire the same quality in women. If he eats well, exercises, and takes a little time to think about what he is wearing, it shows he has self-respect and honors the body that was given to him. The subtext of this behavior is: “I like myself enough to present myself well and make sure I have the energy to live life to the fullest.”

Q: OK, what would you say is the one way a man can charm any woman? What’s his best bet on that front?

A: First and foremost, nearly any woman loves an attentive man who values her thoughts, opinions, and feelings. You’ve probably heard it numerous times, but it’s the truth: Women want to feel heard and considered seriously by men. It’s not that a woman is just looking for someone to agree with her; she wants to know that how she approaches life has an impact on him, she she also wants to know that her ideas have been taken in and digested… hence, she matters and makes a difference in his life.

Q: May I play devil’s advocate and ask why then are so many women seemingly charmed by jerks?

A: Often, it’s a function of one’s personal psychology. Much of that kind of attraction has to do with being drawn to what hasn’t yet been worked out from someone’s childhood wounds or painful experiences. People are often attracted to the very thing that will bring up their old issues; it’s the wisdom of the unconscious pushing us to confront the things that need to be addressed and healed in our personal lives. In this case, the old “it’s not you, it’s me” excuse actually does come into play quite a bit.

Q: Interesting! Last question: There are some men that women are just instantly drawn to… what’s their secret?

A: There is nothing more magnetic to love than love itself. When a man loves his life, his friends, and his job, he is incredibly magnetic. Additionally, when he is as nice to the janitor as he is to the CEO of his company, he shows heart… and most women are always drawn to kind men; I believe it’s human nature. Ultimately, a man who is genuinely — and that’s the key: genuinely — attentive, considerate, kind and chivalrous will always be able to captivate a woman.

Top 5 things that drive us crazy

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By Laura Schaefer

Top 5 things that drive men crazy

Men love women. They do. But that doesn’t mean women don’t drive them crazy. Even after oceans of ink have been spilled about how the two sexes can better understand and accept each other, women still find ways to annoy men — and vice versa. Here are the top five ways she’s making you crazy right now. Ladies, are you guilty of any of these irritating behaviors?

1. Game-playing/manufacturing drama. There are lots of ways to create drama and excitement in a relationship, but men aren’t usually fans — unless said excitement involves clothing removal. “Asking too much too soon about his past relationships” is one way women drive men nuts and create drama, says Dr. Linda R. Young, Ph.D., a psychologist and relationship coach who blogs for Psychology Today. Making him late by taking too long to get ready is another. Getting irrationally jealous over platonic friends or running hot, then cold with no explanation are just a few more.

Whether the drama is minor or significant, men would rather skip it. “I think these [behaviors] exist because men and women don’t have the skills to live beyond the ‘game-playing’ they learned as adolescents, which is perpetuated by the media,” explains Marni Battista, expert dating coach and founder of DatingWithDignity.com. “It takes an entire toolkit of advanced skills to create truly win-win situations in relationships. A person who doesn’t have these skills will always go to those old ‘default’ tendencies to fill the void.” And thus, drama is born.

Ask yourself: Have I recently thrown either an object or a tantrum? If the answer is “yes,” you might be a drama queen. Take it down a notch by talking to your partner about why you’re feeling so angry and exactly what you need to feel calmer in the relationship. If you’re the one dealing with a drama queen, tell her you’re happy to discuss problems like an adult but you’re not interested in entertaining a whole restaurant with her shenanigans. If she doesn’t calm down, tell her to audition for a reality show and leave you alone.

2. Expecting the man to pay for everything. Most men don’t mind picking up the check early on in a courtship, but after a few dates, it’s nice for a woman to offer to contribute financially — especially if exclusivity has been established. Men like to be generous, but they don’t like to be taken for suckers, especially if the woman they’re seeing has a good job. As a corollary to this one, “Men are often put off by women trying to get a sense early on about what he does for a living and how much he earns,” says Dr. Seth Meyers, a Los Angeles-based psychologist and author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription. Men are people, too. If they feel they’re being sized up for more shallow, resume-type qualities, they’ll be annoyed.

3. “Wanting to know ‘where the relationship is going’ before he’s ready to say, or before he knows himself,” is a big one, according to Dr. Young. Dating is supposed to be a chance to get to know another person. It’s not a guarantee of finding a certain kind of relationship, and women who treat it this way drive men nuts. It’s almost as if the woman is selling herself short — after all, you can’t help but ask why a lady would want some kind of commitment from someone she doesn’t really know yet. Why is her “audition process” so short? Likewise, “Men often get bothered with women asking or talking about their beliefs about marriage and children early in the dating process,” observes Meyers. It puts too much pressure on what should be the fun part of getting to know someone when the end goal is the only thing a woman wants to focus on.

If the relationship isn’t likely to blossom into something steady and he’s upfront about that, a man wants the woman to hear what he’s saying and take him at face value. “Men are frustrated by women who don’t really believe them when they say, ‘I’m not in a place to have a relationship, but I really like hanging out with you,’” says Battista. “A man will give this ‘disclaimer’ and then be irritated when the woman finds she can’t change him, then begins to get angry that he hasn’t met her expectations.” If a woman wants to know how a man really feels and then gets hysterical after an honest response, it’s enough to — you guessed it — drive him crazy.

4. Being controlling. “Correcting him on little details when he’s got the big picture right,” adds Dr. Young, is another thing that drives men bonkers. It’s often true that women are better at multitasking, but that doesn’t mean they have to run every detail of the show. A man will get frustrated if a woman asks him to do something then won’t give him a chance to do it his way. The real show-stopper is when she then claims she “has to do everything around here!” If this situation sounds familiar, how can you improve it?

“If you want to put a stop to people’s annoying behavior, you first have to make them aware of it,” says Marc Muchnick, Ph.D., author of No More Regrets! 30 Ways to Greater Happiness and Meaning in Your Life. “Often, people don’t realize that what they are doing is bugging you, so when you tell them, it may come as a surprise.” So tell your significant other that she has to trust you if she doesn’t want to plan every meal, vacation and weekend you spend together, guys. Then do a good job with the task — in your own way, of course — and she just might back off.

5. Not getting enough “guy time.” In ancient cultures, men often spent most of their time with other men while the women socialized with each other. That, as we all know, has changed. And it’s hard for some men to accept. They want their guy time, and it’s rough when women don’t respect that. As long as “guys’ night out” isn’t a code for regularly losing thousands of dollars gambling or paying for strippers, men deserve to have time with their male friends. Deciding exactly how much time is appropriate should be left up to each couple. Remind her that time spent away from each other means the time you do have together will be that much richer — especially with funny stories about the ridiculous thing your buddy Paulie did last weekend. The key is, be reasonable. If you want more guy time than gal time, maybe having a wife or a girlfriend isn’t in the cards for you.

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Top 5 things that drive women crazy

How many times have you heard a woman say, “Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em!” when it comes to men? Ten? Twenty? A thousand times? No matter how much women love men (and vice versa, of course), they drive them crazy sometimes! Here are the top five things that make gals bonkers when it comes to guys.

1. Trying to “fix” things instead of listening. The terrific show Modern Family addressed this common point of contention between the sexes when Phil Dunphy went to the spa and his wife Claire called him with a problem. He tried to fix it, but fortunately, the spa ladies set him straight. All she really needed (and wanted) was a sympathetic ear and some recognition for all the things that she did for her family.

There are no shortcuts when it comes to being a good listener — and women can tell the difference if a man is faking it. If you’re a man who wants to be a better listener, try maintaining eye contact, reframing what she’s said to make sure you understand it, and uttering affirming statements, such as: “That must’ve been really hard,” “It sounds like you handled it very well,” or asking, “Is there anything I can do to help?”

What should you do if your partner is a perennial “fixer” instead of simply listening to you? Chances are, you’ve already tried to explain why his fixation on fixing things doesn’t work for you. The next step might be to remind yourself that, despite this annoying habit, your man isn’t all bad. When it comes to dealing with his shortcomings, “the key is to focus on what you like about the person, not what you don’t like,” counsels Marc Muchnick, Ph.D., author of No More Regrets! 30 Ways to Greater Happiness and Meaning in Your Life. “What about this person is unique and special? The answers should help minimize the [impact of] annoying behaviors.”

2. Behaving in a way that could be perceived as lazy or indecisive. “Women are made crazy by men that don’t ‘man up,’” says Marni Battista, expert dating coach and founder of DatingWithDignity.com. “From saying they will call and not following through to texting instead of picking up the phone to make a date, women are learning that it is less common to find a man who embodies chivalry and good, old-fashioned alpha male energy.” Women hate it when men are lazy with maintaining their personal appearance, forgetful about making plans, or avoid making decisions. And they particularly dislike it when men are emotionally passive by saying things like “I’m sorry you feel that way” instead of really apologizing when it’s called for during an argument. Ask yourself: Do I take the path of least resistance when it comes to dealing with women and with my life? If the answer is “yes,” chances are good you’re guilty of this one. Try a little harder to impress her and make her feel valued, and you might be surprised at how much happier and more fulfilling your relationship becomes.

And if you’re a lady who’s dealing with a lazy dude? Pick your battles wisely. You’re not going to turn a hoodie-wearing Xbox addict into James Bond overnight. By being clear about what you expect (and by asking for realistic things, like the occasional fancy date night), you’ll see some progress. If you don’t, tell your man-child to take a hike.

3. Not paying attention to her feelings. Women are emotional beings. They notice things — like stand-offish body language or the time a guy paid more attention to other women on their date — and they don’t like it. Why do men sometimes act so callously? “These [behaviors] persist because people don’t work on dealing with their issues as much as they should, and they simply leave a relationship when they’re frustrated, even though the same problems often rear their heads in the next relationship,” says Dr. Seth Meyers, a Los Angeles-based psychologist and author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription. In a society rich with dating options, men might think they can get away with unkind behavior; it’s up to women to tell them that they can’t. “If he drives you crazy because he’s inconsistent, uses language that puts down women, is secretive about himself after months of dating, or prefers his time alone over time with you, you’re probably better off moving on,” advises Linda R. Young, Ph.D., a psychologist and relationship coach who blogs for Psychology Today.

4. Paying too much attention to technology toys. We get it; smartphones and their attendant text messages, Twitter feeds and Facebook status updates are fascinating. But when a man spends more time looking a tiny screen instead of the face that’s right in front of him, there’s a problem. “Tell your partner what effect his behavior has on you and be specific about what you want to see [him doing] instead,” says Young. “For example: ‘When you keep texting other people while we’re having dinner, it sends the message to me that I am not your priority when we’re out together. I understand your needing to stay in touch at work during off-hours, but I think not using the phone while we’re eating dinner (barring emergency calls) is reasonable. What do you think is reasonable?’”

5. Taking her for granted. A good relationship is not one in which the male half is spending most of his free time with his buddies in dives, playing video games or watching sports. If this is how you’d prefer to spend all your time, why even bother having a girlfriend? Obviously, women need to give their partners space to socialize outside of their relationship, but the key is finding a good balance. Communicate with your partner about what she feels is reasonable when it comes to deciding how you’ll both spend your time. If her expectations are completely different than yours about the amount of quality time she requires, you may not be a good match. “Overall, for a relationship to work long-term, your partner’s personality has to be one that yours meshes smoothly with,” explains Meyers. It’s the same with setting expectations.

The 9 Secrets of Happy Couples

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By REDBOOK

Loving couples: In a world where 40 percent of marriages end in divorce, you can’t help but notice them. There they are, finishing each other’s sentences or laughing in some dusky corner of a Chinese restaurant. They seem so wonderfully in sync, and they make the work of being a couple seem effortless. Of course, no intimate relationship ever is, especially once you factor in life’s built-in pressures, like work deadlines, laundry and your daughter’s orthodontist appointments.

But, says Jane Greer, Ph.D., Redbook Online’s resident sex-and-relationships expert, there are certain core values that make some marriages more intimate and resilient than others. You could probably predict the list: trust, mutual respect, commitment and a strong sense of “we” in the relationship. What is surprising, experts point out, is that when you ask loving husbands and wives about the key to their devotion, over and over you’ll hear the same things, specific habits that mirror these values. Learning these secrets can make your marriage closer too.

1. They use terms of endearment

Sure, you may find it cloyingly sweet when you overhear other couples talking like 2-year-olds, but endearments are actually a sign of a healthy rapport.

“Pet names take you back either to the happy childhood you had or the one you wish you had,” says Manhattan-based family therapist Carolyn Perla, Ph.D. “They signal a safe, supportive environment.” Also, these days, when we’re stretched to the limit trying to juggle jobs and kids, “pet names give us the chance to let down our guard, to be vulnerable and childlike. And they make us feel close to one another.”

These same feelings of intimacy can also come from using a special tone of voice with each other, sharing silly “inside jokes,” or pet-naming your spouse’s intimate body parts. The point is to connect with some private message system that’s meaningful to you alone, as a couple — not to the outside world. “This type of playfulness is a statement that you’re feeling comfortable with each other and with the relationship,” says Dr. Perla.

2. They do stuff together

When that pheromone-crazy feeling of falling in love passes and happy couples no longer spend all day in bed, they look outward. They start businesses, refinish the attic or take up cooking together.

Of all the variables in a relationship — from commitment to communication — the amount of fun couples have together is the strongest factor in determining their overall marital happiness, according to a landmark study by Howard Markman, Ph.D., codirector of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver. Time spent playing together, says Dr. Markman, is an “investment in the relationship”; it provides a relaxed intimacy that strengthens the bond between two people. So even if your life is impossibly frantic, make the time for play. And do all you can to eliminate distractions. Leave the kids with a sitter, ditch the beeper and cell phone. The activity doesn’t have to be anything elaborate or costly. Exercising together, browsing in antiques stores, or renting a classic movie can help bring the two of you closer.

3. When the going gets tough, they don’t call Mom or Dad

The first task facing all young couples is separating from their families of origin, points out San Francisco-area-based family researcher Judith Wallerstein, Ph.D. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go home for the holidays. But if there’s a crisis over whether to have a second child or relocate for a new job, or even if there’s good news about a big raise or the results of a medical test, the couple should talk about it together first before dialing Mom. “You wouldn’t believe how many people who are getting divorced say to me, ‘She was never mine,’ or ‘His mother always came first,'” Dr. Wallerstein observes.

4. They stay connected to their parents

This doesn’t contradict No. 3: You can talk with your mom every day and still be clear about where your attachment to her ends and your love for your mate begins.

“Staying connected to parents, siblings, cousins and the like can be excellent for a marriage because it gives a sense of family continuity,” says Dr. Greer. “It generates positive feelings, especially when you incorporate your spouse into that family. You’re sharing that part of you with each other.”

5. They don’t nickel-and-dime about chores

It’s no secret that most wives continue to do more in the housekeeping and child-rearing departments than their husbands. Still, when partners become double-entry bookkeepers, adding up every dish washed and every diaper changed, they may be headed for trouble.

“Most couples think they should strive for a relationship that’s 50-50,” observes Dr. Perla, “but the fact is, they should each give 150 percent. In good relationships, couples give everything they can. They don’t nickel-and-dime each other, and they respect that each person gives different things.”

6. They fight constructively

There’s fighting and then there’s fighting. When couples start yelling and throwing things, when they dredge up every single complaint they’ve ever had (or “kitchen-sinking,” as marital experts typically call it), you can be sure that they won’t be celebrating their silver anniversary together. “Studies show that the way couples handle conflict is the most important factor in determining whether or not they stay together,” observes Polly Young-Eisendrath, Ph.D., a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont.

“Happy couples have learned the art of constructive arguing,” says Dr. Markman, whose research has demonstrated that it’s possible to predict whether or not a couple will divorce after watching them argue for 10 or 15 minutes. In strong marriages, he says, the partners take control of their disagreements by establishing ground rules. They may, for example, call a mutually agreed-upon time-out if the conflict is escalating and unproductive, agreeing to continue the discussion after a cooling-off period. They also truly listen to each other and won’t prematurely try to solve the problem before they’ve heard each other out. Above all, no matter how angry they get, they don’t resort to name-calling and insults — key danger signs, says Dr. Markman.

7. They give each other gifts

Couples who are deeply connected often give each other presents or write little notes, says Thomas Moore, Ph.D., best-selling author of Care of the Soul. What they’re doing is preserving the rituals, and the magic, of their courtship.

The gift should carry no strings. Sarah sometimes comes home from work to find that her husband has prepared a candlelight dinner. “But it’s not set up to be a prelude to sex,” Sarah says laughingly. “John does it because he wants me to feel loved.”

8. They never lose their sense of humor

Humor, as many psychotherapists have observed, is the Krazy Glue that keeps a couple together. When a couple can no longer laugh together, Dr. Moore says, it’s a signal that the soul has gone out of their marriage and they are headed for trouble.

But Dr. Moore is quick to point out that lighthearted couples never mock each other. They instinctively know what is — and isn’t — fair game. “Sam would never dream of making fun of my big butt,” notes Catherine.

9. They take “for better or for worse” seriously

Contented couples encounter their share of life’s miseries — whether it’s the car breaking down, a nasty cold or a missed promotion — but they help each other get through. You don’t, for example, hear them say, “How could you let that happen?” when a spouse loses a job. “Couples who do well together tend not to do anything that increases their partner’s suffering, like become resentful or criticize,” notes Dr. Young-Eisendrath. In good marriages, people feel safe from the outside world. Each spouse, stresses Dr. Greer, has the feeling, “I can count on you, our world is all right.”

10 Ways to Divorce-Proof Your Marriage

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By Natasha Burton

Be Split Savvy
With a new matrimonial scandal erupting each week these days, we asked Judge Lynn Toler, host of Divorce Court and author of My Mother’s Rules: A Practical Guide to Becoming an Emotional Genius, for her tips on keeping your marriage strong and steady. While there is no guaranteed formula for preventing divorce, there are ways you can protect your marriage.

Always Communicate
Toler says: “It is a cliché for a reason: Communication is incredibly important. Talk. Talk. Then talk some more.”

Talk Right
Toler says: “When you talk, obey these three rules: 1. Wait until your spouse is ready (don’t try to explain anything meaningful in the middle of an argument); 2. Start where he/she is (restate what was said so they know you heard their position); 3. Then gently introduce your point of view and a workable compromise.”

Learn How You Differ
Toler says: “Understand and appreciate gender differences. Just because you’re not thirsty doesn’t mean that your spouse couldn’t use a drink of water. For example, typically women need to cut down on how many words they use and men need to increase the number they are willing to listen to.”

Keep Money in Check
Toler says: “Do a budget. Write down how much is coming in and how much is going out, and make sure the former exceeds the latter.”

Don’t Forget Romance
Toler says: “Rekindle regularly, especially if you have kids. Date nights and time alone increase the love chemicals in your brain and help you fall in love over and over again.”

Stay in the Real World
Toler says: “Don’t trip over technology. When things aren’t going well at home, it’s easy to seek an emotional connection with some person online. The only reason ‘virtual love’ is easy is because it isn’t real.”

Change Your Approach
Toler says: “Many couples have the same argument over and over again. If that is what’s going on, change what you say — no matter how much sense it makes to you — because it’s not working.”

Keep Problems Private
Toler says: “Don’t complain about your marriage to people who are usually unhappy in their own lives. Misery loves company, and you could be misled.”

Talk, Talk, Talk!
Toler says: “Did I already say talk about everything? Well, I’m saying it again.”

Be Alert
Toler says: “The minute you start thinking ‘we’ve got it all worked out,’ you dramatically increase the odds that it won’t. Marriage is the job that never ends; it can be a good job, but it is always a job.”

10 Ways to Get Your Marriage Back on Track

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By Kimberly Dawn Neumann

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes happily ever after. End of story, right? Not quite… While it’s true that couples relax a bit after they think they’ve nabbed the matrimonial Holy Grail, the reality is that they may also find themselves dumbfounded if their fairytale starts slipping away. “Many people think that marriage is about marrying the right person, so when things go wrong, they automatically go to the ‘Crap, I accidentally married the wrong person’ place,” says Alisa Bowman, author of Project: Happily Ever After. “Although you do want to marry someone you are basically compatible with, marriage has a lot less to do with marrying the right person than it has to do with doing the right things with the person you married.” In other words, relationships are a constant work in progress. To keep the happy connection that made you say “I do” in the first place—or maybe even create a newer-and-improved version—try out these 10 tips to rehab your romance.

1. Nurture yourself

Marriage is about giving, but don’t make the mistake of giving too much. “To have a good marriage, you need to be a good you,” says Bowman. “Learn how to prioritize and put boundaries around activities that keep you healthy and whole—activities like rest, relaxation, fitness and time with friends.” In other words, remember that scheduling “me” time into your day is not selfish, it’s a necessity. It will strengthen your relationship because you’ll have a saner version of “you” to bring to the “us” equation.

2. Define your problems

Spend some time looking at your relationship and figure out which parts work and which parts don’t. Bowman suggests that you take a moment to imagine a perfect day in your perfect relationship. What would this look like? How would you and your partner interact? Then create a plan of how you might get from point A (your current reality) to point B (that perfect day). Write it down if you need to, then start breaking the issues into bite-size pieces and tackling them one at a time. Before you know it, there will only be a few bite-size problems left.

3. Make a financial plan together

Money is one of the biggest stressors in a marriage. Couples worry and argue about it constantly. If you find you and your spouse are starting to badger each other over the bottom line, it’s time to have a penny-pinching powwow. “We are all guilty of something economists call ‘passive decision-making,’ which just means defaulting to the easy option,” says Jenny Anderson, coauthor of Spousonomics: Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage, and Dirty Dishes. “Couples need to make an active plan about how they will manage their money: Combine it? Separate it? Create a joint account and keep some separate? Whatever the decision, both people have to be part of the decision to do it and then figure out what needs to be done to keep the system humming.”

4. Use the three-sentence rule

When you need to ask your partner for something that could be misconstrued as nagging, keep the request at three sentences—max. “The art of being assertive without coming off as aggressive lies in being succinct and using a warm tone of voice and body language,” says Bowman. “When you keep your requests to three sentences or fewer, it’s almost impossible to blame, use sarcasm or use put-downs.” It’s also a lot more likely that you’ll get your point across without losing your spouse’s attention. Make your request with a smile. Be sincere and encouraging. You might even rest your hand on his thigh as you say, “Honey, the house is a mess and I am exhausted. Could you help me clean this place up? I could really use your help.”

5. Take your fighting gloves off

Don’t duke it out. Instead, consider taking a time-out. “There’s a concept called ‘loss aversion’ in economics, which simply means we really hate to lose. And when we think we are losing, we fight like there is no tomorrow to try to win,” says Anderson. “It happens when couples talk about hot-button issues like sex, housework, money or the kids. If either person thinks he or she is losing, he or she will ratchet up the stakes and escalate the issue.” The next time you see a spousal spat going to a not-so-happy place, take a break and revisit the subject when neither one of you feels overwhelmed by the topic.

6. Just do it

Yes, by “do it” we mean have sex. Intimacy is an important part of a vital relationship, and one of the first areas to suffer if feelings are floundering. But sexual encounters can also be one of the quickest ways to reconnect and rekindle with your partner. “Of the many forms of couple intimacy—a smile across a room, a kiss, a touch—sex has the potential to be the most powerful positive physical experience most of us enjoy,” says Joel D. Block, PhD, coauthor of Sex Comes First: 15 Ways to Save Your Relationship…Without Leaving Your Bedroom. “This is especially true if sex results in emotional fulfillment, better communication, security and reassurance.”

Make your sex life a priority by following these five tips

7. Burn your grudges

It’s time to set some bad memories on fire. Literally. Sometimes hanging on to those “Do you remember the time you did such and such?” moments are the things that lead to relationship sabotage. Instead of carrying grudges around forever, torch them. “Write them all down on a piece of paper. Then set a timer for a certain amount of time. It might be 10 minutes. It might be 30. It might be the whole day. The point is: Give yourself as long as you need to really wallow in the misery of these grudges. Savor them. Get angry about them. Mutter about them. Do whatever you need to do to get sick and tired of them,” says Bowman. “Once you are done, say, ‘I will not think about these anymore. These grudges have lost their usefulness.’” Then take a match and burn them.

8. Don’t be overly confident

Overconfidence can lead to complacency, which is not good for any relationship. According to Anderson, in a survey published in August 1993 in the journal Law and Human Behavior, couples who had recently applied for a marriage license were asked to estimate the average rate of divorce. Almost uniformly, they accurately predicted about 50 percent. Then they were asked to estimate the chances that they would get divorced. They answered zero percent. The problem with this statistic is that, if there is no perceived risk of failure, no “work” is put into maintaining the relationship—until it’s suddenly faltering. Don’t let yourself gloss over the little things. Don’t forget to make an effort to keep your romance alive. Don’t find yourself in a situation where you realize that you could have done more…when it’s already too late.

9. Write your spouse’s eulogy

This one isn’t as macabre as it sounds. It’s more of an exercise in appreciation. Bowman suggests that you work on it a little at a time as a way to notice what your spouse does right (since these are the things you’d likely eulogize him with, not the negatives). “Think back over the years you’ve known this man. When did he make you laugh? When did he make you cry tears of joy? When did he surprise you? When did he feed the cat because the smell of cat food makes you want to hurl? Put it in the eulogy,” says Bowman. “The funeral fantasy will help you remember to appreciate your spouse.”

10. Remind yourself you have a choice to stay married

Many people stay in troubled marriages because they believe they have no other choice. “They think that they are stuck, and they blame this sensation of being stuck on their spouse. But if you are stuck, it’s your fault and not your spouse’s,” says Bowman. That fact is, “you are not stuck; you have choices. Three of them: Do nothing and remain miserable; face your fears and try to save your marriage; ask for a divorce.” Choose to either be married or not. Make a choice. And wake up every morning and make that choice again. The surest path to happiness is knowing that you are not a helpless damsel in distress, but rather a woman who can make her own decisions. You have the choice to live happily ever after.