5 Ways to Improve Your Relationship Right Now

I’m sure you have heard people say that good relationships require a lot of hard work. But what does that actually mean? What kind of hard work needs to get done to improve your relationship? Isn’t it enough to commit to your partner day in and day out? The short answer to that is no. In order to have a healthy relationship, we need to be good partners– which means more than just a commitment and a shared life together. Check out these 5 ways to improve your relationship right now.

1. Tell the Truth.

There’s nothing wrong with a little white lie– is there? Do you tell your partner that you love her cooking, even when it takes like burnt rubber? How about all of the times where you said “yes” when your partner asked if you liked their favorite ugly sweater or “no” if they looked fat in something when they didn’t look their best? Do you pretend to listen and wait to speak? Do you tell your partner only what they “need to know”?

I have had clients tell me that they lie to their partner to protect them. I had a guy tell me that he went to the bar once a month for lunch with his work buddies, though couldn’t tell his wife because that would make her jealous. He claimed to be an honest guy, though lied monthly about hanging out with his friends. My question to him (and you) is this: if you have nothing to hide, why would you lie and how is lying protecting your partner if there is no real motivation to lie?

So if you want to improve your relationship, stop lying. No lie big or small has ever turned out to be a good thing. If you are scared of your partner’s reaction when you tell the truth, you may want to have a heart-to-heart with that partner and seek relationship coaching. Lies build resentment and distrust.

Practice transparency.

Be transparent. If your partner can clearly see your intentions, and can trust your word, you will greatly improve your relationship. Broken promises, little white lies, indirect communication, and speaking in hyperboles tears down the relationship and makes for a rocky path.

Remember this: It may be difficult to be transparent after many years, though it is equally if not more difficult to maintain a web of lies, secrecy, and resentment. Be someone your partner can rely on and stop lying.

2. Manage Expectations.

People change and grow over time. If you are waiting around for your partner to become the person they were when you first started dating, you will be waiting forever. It is an impossible task to ask someone to stay the same over the course of a relationship. Sameness may be comfortable to you, but it is unrealistic to maintain.

Make a list.

What expectations do you have for your partner? What do you expect out of your wife or husband, boyfriend or girlfriend? Make a list.

Do you expect your husband to take out the trash and keep your gas tank full? Does he know this? How about your wife? Should she keep the house at a certain level of clean or should she cook everyday if she is a stay-at-home mom?

After you list our your expectations, ask yourself this for every item on your list: Does my partner know that I expect that of them? and then… Is my partner capable of meeting that expectation?

If you expect your wife to clean and cook every day and to make sure your favorite pair of pants is clean– do you ask this of her? Does she have time in her day to meet those expectations? If you have children and your wife is a stay-at-home mom and not getting all of the chores completed that you expect her to complete– have you talked with her? If your husband never takes out the trash or puts his dirty laundry next to the laundry basket– have you talked with him?

Remember this: Expecting someone to do exactly what you want them to do without ever taking into consideration their capabilities and communicating with them is tyrannical. Be a good partner by managing your expectations and communicating directly with your partner.

3. Choose Leadership over Tyranny.

Do you use sarcasm, shame, yelling, and indirect communication to get your needs met? Are you a good leader to your partner when they need guidance or do you resort to tyranny?

A good leader is trustworthy, determined, influential, empathetic, passionate, and connected. A leader understands and sets boundaries, is responsible, and is humble. A leader takes responsibility for their actions and is able to make choices that make the most sense for the good of the group, not the individual.

A tyrant is also influential, but relentless, critical, and demanding as well. A tyrant is often apathetic towards others and displays arrogance. Tyrants are not concerned with the good of the group, rather they are concerned with what is best for themselves and have a selfish worldview.

I’m not a tyrant!

Are you thinking that there is no way that you could possibly be a tyrant? Think again. If you have low self-esteem, anxiety, and a need for things to be perfect, you may very well engage in tyrannical behavior– whether you are male or female.

Did you ever ask the question, “You’re going to take the trash out, right?” (or do the dishes, mow the lawn, do the laundry, etc.) The minute this question is asked, you set the person on the receiving end up to either fall in line with what you want or face some kind of consequence. Instead of asking, “Will you please take out the trash?” You have entered a situation where your goal (the trash going out and your partner doing it) means more to you than your partner. This is tyrannical.

How about another example? Let’s say you like your house to be clean, so you have an expectation that your partner clean the home regularly since they spend more time at home. When the home isn’t clean and you’ve had a decent day, it doesn’t really bother you, so you don’t say anything at all to your partner. On a bad day, though, it drives you nuts that the house isn’t clean so you scream, yell, and threaten your partner when you get home. Maybe you call them lazy or other names and make them feel bad for not meeting your expectations. That is not good leadership.

Being a good leader is a difficult skill. It takes practice, commitment, dedication, and willingness to fail– at first. It may take time for you to develop and enhance your leadership skills, though this time spent will be invaluable to the growth of your relationship. Need help? Schedule a session today.

Remember this: The goal of a tyrant is always more important than you and your goal. If your goals trump everything in front of you, including your partner, their goals, and the goals of your family, time to seek guidance to transform tyranny into leadership.

4. Communicate Directly & Listen to Understand.

A fool finds no pleasure in understanding, but delights in airing his own opinions.

Proverbs 18:2

What is your communication style? Are you direct and to the point or do you use indirect communication to express yourself? Do you listen until it’s your turn to talk or do you listen to understand?

Indirect communication is when a person chooses to act out what they really mean instead of saying it directly. They can use voice tone, gestures, or facial expressions. They do this to avoid being directly rejected, avoid arguments, be in the “safe” zone, and to ultimately save face. This cycle has to end as it can and will end a relationship.

Jay Skeeters

Communication breaks down when what we hear are our own assumptions and insecurities projected onto the words of someone else. Direct communication and active listening will repair these breakdowns in communication. Listen to your partner by taking out any assumptions you may have when they are talking so that you can develop empathy for them and see the world from their perspective.

Jay and I talk a lot about communication in our work because it is a key component to having healthy, connected relationships. It is important to change from an indirect to a direct style of communication. Saying exactly what you think and feel makes listening and giving feedback much easier. This opens up the communication lines to a sharing of ideas, thoughts, and feelings. If you use indirect communication and aren’t sure what else you can do to get your needs met, schedule with us today. We can guide you on how to communicate better so that you will feel heard and respected.

Remember this: Listening communicates love, compassion, and empathy to your partner. Listening also helps you understand each other, connect and communicate effectively.

5. Be Supportive.

Would you take a bullet for your partner?

Okay, that’s intense– or is it? Throughout this post, I have referred to people in a relationship as partners. Why? Because if your husband or wife/ boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t have your back then your relationship will feel like its failing because you won’t feel supported or safe.

Have Your Partner’s Back.

A partner would have your back always. They would be supportive of you even if your choices didn’t align with their preferences. Read that again: They would be supportive of you even if your choices didn’t align with their preferences.

If you want to improve your relationship- practice having your partner’s back. Instead of getting annoyed and angry, help them out. Do they forget important dates? Get a calendar to help them remember. Text them reminders the day before and the day of an event.

Do they love NASCAR, football, soccer, ballet, theater, basketball, or disc golf? (insert other activity that does not interest you in the slightest) Make sure that they have snacks on race, show, or game day. Give them space to watch without pressure of doing something you want or need to do. Respect their hobbies and interests just as you would want your hobbies and interests to be respected. Go with them to places you don’t want to go because you love them and respect them as people in the world so their happiness means more than your temporary discomfort.

Do they hate being sick? Get them some vitamin C packs, cough drops, and plan to take care of dinner, dishes, and the nightly routine so they can rest. Do they have a big meeting tomorrow? Make sure their favorite pants are clean and ready to go and ask if there is anything else you can do to help them. An early night? Taking over with the kids? Taking the dog out?

Remember this: Having your partner’s back is key to developing trust and emotional safety in a relationship. If the things I listed above seem too over-the-top and inconvenient for you, it’s time to reevaluate things. Maybe you like the idea of a relationship, though not the work that goes into building a great one. And that’s okay. Telling yourself the truth will go a long way.


Rose Skeeters, MA, LPC, PN2 Thrive:Mind/Body, LLC TMB Online Counseling

Rose Skeeters, MA, LPC, PN2

Rose Skeeters is the CVO of Thrive: Mind/Body, LLC, an innovative mindset coaching & online counseling practice aimed at empowering motivated individuals to master every area of their life. She specializes in family & relationship counseling–helping couples, parents, & families get and stay on the same page. Rose is also the host of From Borderline to Beautiful, a podcast aimed at helping individuals with BPD, CPTSD, and EUPD find hope and help in their recovery journeys. Are you interested in working with Rose? Schedule a consult with her here or contact her today at Rose@thriveonlinecounseling.com.

Do I have Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety makes it difficult for people to engage in everyday activities such as just going to work or heading to Starbucks to have a coffee with friends. These activities can be incredibly intense for someone with social anxiety. The fear of having a panic attack in public or being humiliated or embarrassed is so strong that many people choose to avoid social situations entirely. If you have a friend with anxiety and they are inconsistent with plans or cancel often, try not to internalize this behavior. Anxiety causes a fight, flight, or freeze response, which is biological in nature. Someone with anxiety needs help to overcome their intense fear before they can be more consistent in social situations. 

Social anxiety disorder (social phobia) is the third largest psychological problem in the United States today.  Millions of people quietly endure this pain every day, believing there is no hope for them getting better.

What is life with Social Anxiety like?

  • “I couldn’t go on dates or to parties. For a while, I couldn’t even go to class. My sophomore year of college I had to come home for a semester.”
  • “My fear would happen in any social situation. I would be anxious before I even left the house, and it would escalate as I got closer to class, a party, or whatever. I would feel sick to my stomach–it almost felt like I had the flu. My heart would pound, my palms would get sweaty, and I would get this feeling of being removed from myself and from everybody else.
  • “When I would walk into a room full of people, I’d turn red and it would feel like everybody’s eyes were on me. I was too embarrassed to stand off in a corner by myself, but I couldn’t think of anything to say to anybody. I felt so clumsy, I couldn’t wait to get out.” 
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Parenting: 5 Things Parents Should Never Say to Their Kids

Parenting can feel like an uphill battle. Without a handbook or parents that modeled positive parenting behaviors, there is no way we can know exactly what to do. Even though our parenting skills will never be perfect, we can still choose to take steps to ensure that we are providing our children with love, rules, safety, security, and validation by not saying things that will make them wary of trusting us.

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Family Rules: 10 House Protocols


Here are 10 house protocols to help promote unity, transparency, and safety in your home:

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Choose Joy.

Having Joy & Being Happy: What is the difference? 

Do you ever find yourself stuck in traffic and tired of the same old playlist? Podcasts are a great way to switch things up, especially if you have a long commute. Recently, my family and I traveled out to the Mid-West to visit family. On the way home, we listened to a podcast that talked about the difference between having joy and being happy. It was such a great discussion that I thought I would share it with you today. (The word “JOY” also reminds me of the holiday season and it is a snowy December day here in Pennsylvania.)

So what is the difference between happiness and choosing joy?

Being happy is a temporary state of being. Sure, it feels good to be happy, though happiness is not always something that we can choose– especially when life gets us down. Happiness, as a feeling, is also not based on something necessarily being good for us.

Joy, on the other hand, is at least grounded in the idea that something is good for someone else. We have joy when — even in our pain/suffering — we are acting toward someone else’s well-being. If you have ever selflessly given of yourself or that which you own– you are certainly familiar with this feeling.

Now think, if all of our efforts are focused on trying to be happy — I think that we may be missing the point of life. But if our purpose is to have joy in our lives then we have committed to one another in a way that seeks something better than simple self-satisfaction.

So let me ask you this: What are you doing in the world that is causing you joy?

If you can’t answer that question, then make it your goal for the rest of the month of December to choose joy.

But, how?

Try putting yourself out there and doing something good for someone else (and also try to be humble about it- do it for the other person, not for others to see you doing something selfless and give you likes and attention) — and feel what happens.

Write the following quote down on that dry erase board on the fridge, on a sticky note above your coffee pot, on your palm, make it the background on your smart phone or laptop— put it somewhere. Read it every morning. In the spirit of the holiday season, choose joy by finding ways to be happy even when things don’t go your way.

In Strength,

Rose

Choosing joy means: Finding ways to be happy even when things don’t go your way.

How to Deal with [Difficult] People

How to Deal with [difficult] People. 

Do you find yourself in conflict with others often?  Whether it is someone close to you, someone you work with, or a complete stranger, they can get under your skin.  Do you blame them or do you blame yourself?  Well, what if you ended the blame game and started opening your eyes to a different culprit? The intended result! Below is a mindset formula from the Neuro-linguistics programming (NLP) presuppositions that is sure to change how you deal with people forever:

Every behavior has a positive intended result.

Every behavior has a positive intended result.

Every behavior has a positive intended result.

Read the first line out loud normally, read the second line out loud but a little slower, and read the third line out loud, even slower, and think about the words you are saying. Let that sink in for a bit before continuing the read

To avoid redundancy, I will refer to positive intended result as PIR.

Now, if you didn’t get that light bulb going off in your head, then you are either not getting it or you are skeptical.  So let me break it down for you.

What is PIR again? 

When somebody does something–anything– it is always because their intention is to have a positive outcome.  

Scenario 1: If you head out to work (behavior), your PIR is to arrive at the place that pays you money for your service.  That money is used for your livelihood.  Positive.

Okay, so that was an easy example of the formula. Let’s use the same example but we will change up the behavior (which changes the PIR). 

Scenario 2: You head out to work and while driving, someone cuts you off.  This enrages you and you flip them off while cursing at them in your car.  They see this and start gesturing that they too are angry because you didn’t let them in.  You engage in a back and forth gesturing match like a couple of driving baboons until it is time for them to turn off, allowing you to proceed to work.  

What’s the difference? 

The difference is that in scenario 1, your behavior was congruent with the PIR.  In scenario 2, your behavior changed the PIR when you perceived this other person as disrupting your commute to work. The new behavior had the PIR of releasing aggression. Once that PIR was attained, you changed your behavior back to getting to work. The problem with scenario 2 is that the behavior changed the original pursuit (getting to work to get that paycheck).  In this case, the original pursuit was just delayed, however there are times when this can get you into a lot of trouble pushing that original pursuit farther and farther away from you or extinguishing it altogether.

How can I use PIR to deal with others? 

When dealing with others, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the emotion of their behavior instead of seeing what their intention is.  

Have you ever watched a child who just learned to tie their shoes get angry and cry because they are struggling?  It’s easier to see the bigger picture because we understand what their objective is so we don’t get wrapped up in their tantrum.  

When a partner is displaying behavior that negatively impacts you, it is important to understand what the positive outcome is that they are pursuing and help them to continue their pursuit.  The behavior may be due to frustration because they may view you as an obstacle to their outcome.  It may be that they are looking at the outcome with a suboptimal point of view.  Our perspective controls the behavior we engage in when pursuing a positive outcome.  If the outcome takes longer than expected, has obstacles, or is no longer something we can pursue, we get cranky.

So what do you do?

First of all, you must understand that their negative behavior is not a reflection of who they are as a person. I will write more about this in my next blog.  For now, just hold onto that statement.  

Our behavior is NOT a reflection of who we are as a person. 

This makes it easier to understand that the behavior is simply a reaction to the positive pursuit.

In order to deal with others, you must separate the behavior that they engage in from the intended result.  If you can train yourself to do this, you will be amazed at how you will be able to see through the behavior and track the pathway to the intended result just as clearly and unemotionally as you see the the child struggling to tie their shoes. If you care about the person having the meltdown, you can support them by offering a different method or point of view to get the positive result that they are pursuing.  If you don’t care for the person having the negative behavior, you can choose to not be affected by their behavior and move on, unemotionally, pursuing your own positive outcome. 

In our daily lives we interact with all kinds of people.  It is important to learn how to deal with them in a way that doesn’t knock you off of your own pursuit.  It will give you the mental clarity to be able to help those you care for, and the armor to deflect the emotions of those who you do not care for.  Become a stronger version of yourself by running this formula.  It will be difficult at first because you already have a lot of repetitions dealing with people how you currently do. If you can replace the habit of getting overly emotional with this formula, many new doors will open up for you and your positive results.  It’s time to get smarter with how we deal with those around us.

Jay Skeeters