A Better Relationship in a Week
Bill Cottringer

No matter how good or bad your present relationship is it can always be better with minimal planning, effort, and cost. And in this economy that is a pretty good deal! Here is a very practical and easy way to have a better relationship in just one enjoyable week. Carry out the seven following suggestions Monday through Sunday next week and watch your relationship satisfaction thermometer rise above your expectations (Helpful hint: Holiday time is great for getting in the mood and having it stick around afterwards).


Start out the week right with a commitment to be optimistic and positive, at least for a whole day! If you need a good reason to do this here is a granddaddy of one. Solid research shows that optimistic people are happier, make more money, live longer, are freer of physical symptoms and most relative to this article, have more fulfilling relationships (maybe because of the other four goodies). Consciously force yourself to think or do seven positive thoughts or acts to nullify the one negative thing you just can’t avoid or resist reacting to. Best yet, be proactive and think about not thinking or doing anything negative the whole day. Remember seven positive thoughts and actions can get wiped out by a single negative slip. Is that worth it?


Make this your partner’s very special, spontaneous Valentine’s day off season in doing everything nice for him or her unselfishly and without the need for payback or recognition. Graciously and generously deliver the right “love language” gifts to your partner—physical affection, presents, assuming chores, romantic intimacy, acknowledgment, etc. If you both work this may be even more appreciated before and after the workday. Love notes, special meals, thoughtful presents, sensuous scents, flowers, music, foot rubs, and candles can all accentuate the ambiance for best impact.


Do a switcherooney and pay it forward to your partner!


Take a break from this schedule and just let go to being spontaneous with each other devoid of any judgment. Do something different and unusual that you’ve wanted to do for awhile but always came up with some lame excuse. There’s no grade on this day, it just is. Try to spontaneously create something together if the break is too boring, or plan the right environment for tomorrow’s activities by thinking ahead how to communicate what you will be discussing. Planned communication always makes things turn out better.


Have a serious, assertive mutual discussion about one thing that bothers each of you about yourselves, that your partner probably agrees with; then plan how to deal with it better the next time it interferes with a good relationship between you and your partner. Don’t get carried away with talking about annoying habits that can and should be tolerated without discussion! Act like there is only one chance to get one most important thing right. And remember, no imposing your personal views as to what is wrong. Any planning time in your head the night before will pay off.


Enjoy some humor and laugh often together for the whole day—watching a funny movie or video at home or the movie theatre, reading funny jokes to each other, listening to a funny CD, visiting the zoo and seeing all the silly-looking and entertaining animals Take a break from all seriousness and put it on hold this day. Even plan a funny dinner like gourmet spam hoagies or something odd. When you go to bed, remind each other what the funniest part of the day was and laugh one more time.


Plan to do something religious or spiritual together for most of this day—going to church, reading and discussing a religious or spiritual book or magazine article, enjoying nature, meditating, taking a long walk or hike, volunteering service to those who need it, or writing nice notes to different people in your life that have had an important and positive influence. The point is to get outside yourself and the relationship, into something bigger. Take a needed break from yourselves and the relationship for this day of rest and renewal. No technology allowed, so unplug it all. It will be waiting Monday, but only for positive purposes.

Note: This simple 7-day plan can easily be expanded into a calendar month and year, until it becomes as natural as walking. The point is to have fun and not work at it too hard. Nothing in this week should be contrived or artificial.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), and “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), and “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or ckuretdoc@comcast.net