Val Baldwin, CPC
Live Your Ultimate Life

Most people set new goals for themselves at the beginning of each year but most overlook doing so with their relationships.  It’s never too late to schedule a positive private time with your special someone.  The purpose is to review how you did this last year and brainstorm on how you can make the coming year the best your relationship has ever had.  

One of the assignments I give couples is to review the following Universal Love Laws to see how you are both performing.  The goal is to fully understand each other to create the amazing relationship you both deserve. Remember this is NOT the time to be overly critical or a way to vent your anger and resentment over long-ago incidences. It’s crucial to approach this discussion as a positive and enlightening way to move forward together. It’s a time for both partners to be completely responsible for how you add or take away from the relationship. Finally, create an action plan on what you both commit to do and then DO IT!

Before you begin, you both must understand and agree upon three crucial concepts:

  1. You can’t CHANGE what you don’t first ACKNOWLEDGE.
  2. YOU are the only one you can change.
  3. BOTH partners are responsible and accountable for your relationship.

THE LAW OF CONNECTION: Spouses are either growing closer or growing apart.  You don't get to stand still in relationships for very long.  So we need to know two things:  What does it take to feel connected to my partner?  And what does it take for my partner to feel connected to me? 

  • Rate yourself 1-10 on how connected you currently feel with your partner. A high score means you feel very connected. A low score means the opposite. It is possible for one partner to feel very connected while the other partner does not.

If you or your partners score needs improving, then try this: Tell each other very specifically what you need your partner to do more of to feel connected. Give very clear examples of what you need them to do, how to act or what to say to feel more connected. Begin with “What would really make me feel more connected to you is……”

Examples: need more touching and holding (do you mean physical intimacy or holding hands, hugs, etc?), need more meaningful conversations with both of you sharing your thoughts, ideas and feelings and not just one partner doing the talking (how often?), need more sincere compliments and encouraging words (how many a day would make you happy?), need more dates without kids (how many times/month?), need to equally divide the household chores, etc. (create a chore list and divide it up).

THE LAW OF THE OTHER PERSON’S EYES:  In a relationship, we don't have to always agree with our partner, or even see things the exact same way.  We do need to be able to step into the world of the other person and be able to see through their eyes.  All partners want to feel understood.  When they do, they can deal with whether you agree with them or not.

  • Rate yourself 1-10 on how well you feel understood by your partner.

If you or your partners score needs improving, then try this: Make sure you use communication techniques that make your both feel understood and heard. After your partner says something meaningful, mirror back to them by saying something like: “Let me make sure I understand you. What I think I heard you say is…… Did I get that right?”

It’s OK to agree to disagree. Always approach a difference in showing open mindedness by saying something like “I can sure understand why you feel the way you do and I respect your decision. For me, I just view the issue differently.” Often times it’s appropriate to simply end the disagreement by saying “I respect you completely but on this topic let’s just agree to disagree and no hard feelings, OK?”

THE LAW OF NAGGING:  I've rarely seen a situation where one person was being accused of nagging where the other person was not being irresponsible in some way.  Nagging is no fun, for the nag-ee or for the nag-er.  It takes two people working together to stop the pattern, one to be responsible, and then one to not nag.

  • Rate your partner on how much you feel they nag you. A high score would be someone who nags a lot.
  • Rate yourself on how much you feel you nag your partner.
  • Compare your scores. Don’t be surprised if your scores differ quite a bit. People see things from their own point of view which may be very different than what you intended to portray.

If your partner rated you high on the nagging scale, then get a reality check that this is how you are coming across whether you intend to or not. Commit to be consciously aware when you go into the “nagging mode”, stop yourself, apologize and choose a different way to deal with the issue. You could come up with a funny “nag alert name” your partner could politely tease you with if you start into the nagging mode like “Nagging Nellie” or “Nagging Ned”.

If you rated your partner high on the nagging scale, ask yourself what behavior are YOU doing or not doing that prompts your partner to nag you? Is there a trend? Do they nag you over the same kinds of situations? Are you being irresponsible in some way? Analyze your behavior to see how it is contributing to their nagging. Ask them specifically what behavior change would need to occur to stop the nagging. Then commit to perform better in this area. You may be surprised at the welcome result.

THE LAW OF FUN:  The couple that laughs and plays together has a much better chance of staying together.

  • Rate your relationship (not your partner) 1-10 on how much fun you have together.
  • If either of you scored your relationship low on the “fun scale”, brainstorm ideas on how to incorporate more playtime together.

Examples: Make a list of things you think are fun to do together (i.e. outdoor activities, seeing movies, playing tennis together, taking classes, snuggling by the fire, sharing jokes etc.) Choose what activities and how often would make you both feel satisfied and happy. Schedule some fun times on the calendar and follow through!

THE LAW OF MANNERS: It’s all too easy to begin taking each other for granted. It’s important to continue to treat each other well. So when you need to get by your partner, saying “excuse me” is still a whole lot better than “move.”

  • Rate your partner 1-10 on how well mannered you feel they treat you.
  • Rate yourself 1-10 on how well mannered you believe you are towards your partner.

If you or your partners score needs improving, then do this: Share with each other specific behavior you consider bad mannered. It doesn’t matter if you don’t view the particular behavior as poor manners. The point is, your partner does and it offends them. Commit to correct this behavior and always treat each other with respect and adoration. Never slack off on good manners. It’s the loving and the right thing to do.

The Law of THREE: When you marry someone, you don't marry one person, you marry three.  The person you think they are, the person they really are, and the person they will become as a result of marrying you.

This final exercise is to be done privately. Do not share your results with your partner or the action items you commit to do.

Ask yourself “What kind of person is my partner today?”

  • Rate your partner 1-10 on the kind of human being and partner you believe they are. A high score meaning a wonderful person and partner, a low score meaning needs improvement.
  • Consider your part in the outcome of the score you gave your partner. What are you doing to bring out their best qualities? What are you doing that is bringing out their worst qualities? Ponder this and write down 2 things you will start doing immediately to boost your partner’s best qualities and 2 things you will immediately stop doing that brings out their worst qualities.

True love means being committed to the growth of another human being. This final Love Law puts this important attitude into practice.

Great relationships take time, patience and on-going tending. Does it take effort? Absolutely. But I promise you…..the results will be priceless!

Concepts from Jeff Herring’s article 11 Universal Laws, adapted by Val Baldwin

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