What's On Your Menu

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How can requesting what you want from your mate improve your marriage?

Communication is the single most effective way to deepen intimacy in any relationship, whether it’s with your mate, family, friends, or on the job. Just as food is essential to a healthy body, intimate communication is essential to a healthy relationship. Generally, our communication is based on what we consider to be within our safety zone. It’s incredibly safe to exist on clichés or by simply stating facts. Most conflicts begin to enter into the picture when we share opinions, feelings, or needs.

When you go to a restaurant, you request items off a menu. The same principle can be applied to a relationship. Request what you want from your mate for example, a daily hug, help around the house, or appreciation for a job well done. Decide what’s most important in your marriage, and put those things in writing. One menu item I suggest you include is an agreement that during an argument, you’ll both list all the positive and negative aspects of the issue at hand. Seeing both sides can bring about a quicker resolution and also the unity you both desire.

It’s crucial that we develop healthy relationships. Doctors have found that tension from a poor marriage or friendship can actually cause illness and shorten a person’s life! Not only that, but our children also gain or suffer from the model we provide them every day. One of the keys in any healthy relationship is a willingness to say, “I’m more interested in understanding what you’re saying than in thinking of what I’m going to say once you’re done talking.”

A husband and wife need to establish a routine pattern of meaningful communication—times of sharing feelings, hopes, dreams, and fears. “Weather report” comments like “How’s it going?” “How was the traffic today?” and other safe questions aren’t enough. Every day, spouses need to add the water of well spoken words to keep their relationship strong and healthy.

In a nurturing and healthy relationship, you perceive that your ideas and insights are valuable, and you learn how to negoti-ate and listen to the other person’s views. You hear things like “What did you say?” “You always know the right thing to say,” or “Let’s talk about this.”

In a healthy relationship, not only are you encouraged to feel, but you’re also sensitive to others’ feelings. You perceive that how you feel is valuable and that you’re safe when sharing your feelings. You might hear things like “How do you feel about this?” “It’s okay to feel like that,” or “What can I do to make you feel better?”

When you honor your spouse above yourself, you develop close- knit feelings of belonging. In this atmosphere, you spend a great deal of quality time together. You might hear things like “Let’s spend some time together,” “What can I do to become closer to you?” or “What can I do to make you feel closer to me?”

When you and your spouse agree to live in oneness, you’re con- sequently willing to spend more time listening and discussing in order to resolve important issues and so build intimacy. When-

ever a husband and wife agree on the main areas of their lives, they become bonded together and achieve a unique strength. Two people united are much stronger than one.

Frequent praise builds strength. The simplest way to make your spouse feel good is to say, “Well done!”

One way to cherish our mates is to help them become fulfilled as people. We can do this by discovering their personal goals and looking for ways to help them reach those objectives. We all love knowing someone is pulling for us. We should discuss our roles in marriage and what areas we need encouragement with. We should choose areas based on genuine love and not on expectations that have never been discussed.

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