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Relationship Advice: DISCOVER THE HEALING POWER OF LOVE

BY Arlene F. Harder, MA, MFT

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We humans need one another well beyond our mere survival. We need one another in order to experience what it means to be alive on this planet. We need one another in order to experience what it means to be human. And love, which is one of the highest and most rewarding experiences of this life, is impossible without another.

—Judith Sherven and James Sniechowski

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Relationship Advice: READY TO MAKE A COMMITMENT?

I was just plain lucky when I found my husband more than fifty years ago. We have had a successful relationship despite our differences and have learned to give the other person space to be who we are. You, too, may stumble into a happy marriage or committed partnership, but it sure helps if you think a bit about what you want and whether that special person can help you find the rainbow at the end of the day.

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dreams-compatibleTake This Compatibility Test

Take time to seriously consider how you want to spend the limited time and energy you and your partner have to invest. Find where the trouble spots might be BEFORE you tie the knot. Recognize the adjustments that will need to be made in order to have a successful relationship and whether or not you're willing to make those adjustments.

In this article you will also be able to play the Premarital Priorities Game, a self-test designed to help you explore your priorities before you commit yourself to a relationship.

Read the article Are Your Dreams Compatible?

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Marriage's Invisible ContractWhat Assumptions Lie Behind Relationship Problems?

We all enter into a committed relationship thinking the other person knows the “ground rules” as we understand them.

Unfortunately, unspoken expectations can cause trouble when they come into conflict. Learn how these expectations may create stress in your relationship.

Read the article Marriage's Invisible Contract

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The Marriage Contract GameThree Unspoken Expectations that Can Ruin a Relationship

We all have expectations concerning what we're willing to give our partner, as well as what we want to get from him or her. These assumptions are sources of trouble if they aren't understood by both people.

Play this game and share what you "think" you've both agreed is the basis of your relationship — you will undoubtedly uncover some areas of disagreement and others in which you are in accord. The results may surprise you.

Play the Marriage Contract Game

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How to Love a Perfectionist Without Going CrazyIs Your Partner a Perfectionist?

In the Understand Yourself Section, I share what I have learned as a “recovering perfectionist.” My free ebook, How to Love a Perfectionist Without Going Crazy is for the person who is in a relationship with a perfectionist.

Discover how to know whether your partner is a perfectionist, and how to help him or her become a "recovering perfectionist."

Read the FREE EBOOK How to Love a Perfectionist Without Going Crazy

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Relationship Advice: INCREASE LOVE AND INTIMACY

When we begin a relationship, we start out with great promise. We are filled with excitement, certain that we will create a vital and passionate future together. We see in our lover all the qualities we want, so that just the thought of being together is enough to fire our desire. Unfortunately, at some point this intensity often breaks down and we look at one another and wonder what happened to the person we married.

The articles below will help you discover how to recover the old passion.

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The Magic in Your DifferencesReveal the Real You and Enrich Your Relationship

Relationship experts Judith Sherven and Jim Sniechowski share the first chapter of their book, The New Intimacy. In it, they show how true love can only begin when fantasies end. When you and your partner are willing to be exactly who you are — no masks, no games — you can take your relationship to the next level.

Read the article The Magic in Your Differences

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Selfish or Self-Centered?Discover the Difference Between Being Self-Centered and Being Selfish

There is often confusion in reconciling the concept of loving oneself and the concept of selfishness.

In this article Joyce and Barry Vissell stress that “there is no real relationship without loving oneself. Without the love of one's own self, self-love, we are not magically able to give what we don't have to another.”

Read the article Self-Centered, or Selfish?

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Enhancing Sexual IntimacySex as a Mirror to Your Relationship

What happens during love-making is often a reflection of the condition of the rest of the relationship.

Learn how this concept can help us discover more about our relationship, and be a key to improving it on all levels.

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Read the article Sex and Your Relationship

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Sex and Your RelationshipEleven Ways to Make Sexual Intimacy a Central Part of Your Relationship

Sex holds the promise of ecstatic union and the regeneration of love between two persons. However, when it is relied upon as the only way to intimate connection, it can be abused.

In this article Joyce and Barry Vissell explore the question, When does foreplay truly begin?

Read the article Enhancing Sexual Intimacy

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Can Travel Improve Relationship?Five Suggestions for Travelling Together and What it Reveals About Your Relationship

You can learn a lot about your significant other when you travel together.

Even after 50 years of marriage I still can learn new things about my husband while on vacation, and each journey we take enriches our relationship.

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Read the article Can Travel Improve Your Relationship?

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Relationship Advice: RESOLVING CONFLICTS

It is important to remember that all couples (even those who appear to be perfect for each other) have problems from time to time. Keeping that in mind will counter the illusion that an "ideal" couple doesn't have to constantly make adjustments, both minor and major, for the partnership to work.

So if your relationship "isn't working," I encourage you not to give up. Don’t wait until your dissatisfaction, distance, conflict and emotional reactions escalate to the point that the only recourse seems to be divorce or an emotional estrangement while living together.

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Healing Relationships is an Inside JobLooking at Relationships from a New Perspective

Are you trying to get another person to change and you are convinced that he or she WILL change IF . . . you keep trying harder . . . you say exactly the right words . . . you expend enough energy . . . you wait long enough?

In other words, you want another person to be different than he or she is right now. But you're going nowhere.

Explore what you need to change for the relationship to change.

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Read the article Healing Relationships is an Inside Job

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Pick Your Battles CarefullyDrawing a Line in the Sand

Lines are drawn in every marriage. Some are about basic values or principles on which we won't compromise. But sometimes we draw non-negotiable lines over insignificant issues because we need to be in control.

Explore how recognizing the distinction between between the two can help avert unnecessary conflict.

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Read the article Pick Your Battles Carefully

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The Many Levels of BetrayalHealing After You Have Been Betrayed

There are many kinds of betrayal in a relationship and recognizing when you have been betrayed, or when you betray another, can make the difference between a broken and a healed relationship.

This article offers advice on how to heal from betrayal and how to recognize that both contribute to the love, the harmony, and the dysfunction in the dance between two partners.

Read the article The Many Levels of Betrayal

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Catching a Cheating SpouseDo You Suspect Your Spouse of Infidelity?

In the book The More You Know: Getting the Evidence and Support You Need to Investigate a Troubled Relationship by private detective Bill Mitchell shows you how to prove or disprove your suspicions.

If you are afraid that your husband or wife is cheating, what can and should you do?

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Read the book review Catching a Cheating Spouse

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Brief Couple TherapyCan this Therapy Improve Your Relationship?

Some forms of marriage therapy take several, or many, sessions. Solution-focused brief couple therapy creates a dialogue between two people whose relationship is in trouble and can be as brief as a single session. In it, each person is empowered.

This therapy is based on the idea that one committed person can make positive changes in themselves that reflect back on the relationship. These small changes lead to larger changes and may save your marriage.

Read the article Brief Couple Therapy

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A Goodbye Ceremony for CouplesWhen it's Time to Let Go of a Relationship and Heal

Unfortunately, many couples don't seek therapy until it is too late to save their relationship. Approximately 80% of couples who seek therapy at this stage will succeed in terminating their relationships. This doesn't mean therapy was unsuccessful, just that the relationship was too far gone to be saved.

In this situation, therapy can help couples separate as amicably as possible. Learn a technique that can help a couple let go, heal their hurt, and learn from the experience.

Read the article A Good-bye Ceremony for Couples

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Relationship Advice: UNDERSTAND YOUR FAMILY OF ORIGIN

Since we bring to each new relationship what we have learned while we were growing up, it is important to understand the power that our past can have on our current relationships. A good place to start is to explore the family dynamics and family bonds that helped form who you are. Use the navigation bar on the left in Families in the Strengthen Relationships section.

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Words of Encouragement Everyone Needs

Unfortunately, not all parents know how to raise children who, when they become adults, are able to navigate all the problems that life can throw in the path of relationships. Not everyone was given the nurturance they needed as they were growing up.

Fortunately, it is not too late to learn what you may have missed as a child. This unique CD can take you through the stages of children and give you the affirmations you may use to form healthy relationships.

Check out Words of Encouragement Everyone Needs

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