just for the love of it: 5 new year's resolutions for your relationship


Need a New Year's resolution for 2011? Make 2011 the year that you fix your broken relationship, give your average relationship a boost, or continue to enhance and intesify your already amazing relationship. Try implementing 1, 2, or all of these seemingly simple, yet extremely influential behaviors into your relationship routine and watch 2011 be the best year yet!


5. Say "I love you" (or some version of that) every single day in 2011. Text it, email it, Facebook it, or just say it.

4. Have a date night at least twice a month. Dinner and a movie, an exotic weekend get-a-way, or a night of ice skating will suffice. Do whatever you can to make sure that you and your partner have a few hours of uninterrupted, face-to-face, alone time. Even if this means that you put the kids to bed, turn off the tv, and play a board game at the kitchen table. Spend some quality one-on-one time together in 2011. Click HERE, HERE, and HERE for some great date ideas for any time of the year.

3. Become a list-maker. Write down everything that you love and appreciate about your partner. And continue to return to this list through out the year. Share this list with your mate on New Year's Eve next year. You could read the list to your partner, create a "reasons I love you" scrapbook, or an online photo book with each reason included.

2. Implement a "let's talk" night (preferably once a week, but at least twice a month). I'll admit, this isn't one of my tips, it's Alisa Bowmen's (of http://www.projecthappilyeverafter.com/). Click HERE to read her incredibly practical and insightful article about the necessity of a "let's talk" night.

1. Laugh with each other. Laugh about the things that would usually irritate you and laugh about those silly things that we encounter from time to time. Remember to not take life so seriously; it's supposed to be fun! Laughter not only has a significant impact on your physical and mental well-being as an individual, but it can also help you to feel closer with your partner while increasing the amount of positive interactions that the two of you share. 

netflix gift certificate WINNER!


First, let's reveal the top post of 2010. And your favorite post of 2010 is...

How Does Tuesday Night Around 10 Sound? Three Reasons Why Scheduling Sex with Your Partner May Not Be Such a Bad Idea


 Thank you everyone who voted!


~~~~


Now, onto the winner of the Netflix.com Gift Certificate! After using random.org to determine the winner, one lucky reader was chosen to receive the Netflix.com Gift Certificate! Drumroll please..........................


Jessicaletta291 is the official winner!


Congrats Jessicaletta291! All you have to do now is send your name and contact info to jenslovelessons@gmail.com by 5 p.m. on January 2 and then I will email you your prize!

Not Jessicaletta291? It's okay, there will be more giveaways soon! In fact, there will be a wonderfully sexy Valentine's Day giveaway coming up in the next few weeks.


giveaway: vote for the best love lesson of 2010 and win one of my favorite date ideas of 2010

~ SORRY, BUT THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED ~

With the end of the year fast approaching, I thought that a contest was definitely in order. After looking at my blog stats this year, three Jen's Love Lesson posts clearly emerged as the most viewed posts of 2010. There were plenty of runner-ups like this one about gaining some perspective, this one about talking about your relationship,  and this one about winter date ideas. For this contest though, I want to know which of the TOP THREE (listed below) is your favorite!

So, what can you win? Well, in case you didn't know already, I love movies. Seriously, I love them. And, I think that watching a movie at home  with your partner is an easy and inexpensive (have you  tried to hire a babysitter lately?) way to spend time together. This year, Hus and I saw our fair share of flicks on our couch. Since I love movies and I also love extremely casual date nights, it only seemed natural to give away a one-month subscription of Netflix!

In particular, you will receive the $9.99 one-month subscription where you can watch movies instantly on your computer or TV, watch as many movies as you want, and "rent out" 1 DVD at a time (exchanging them as often as you want). Click HERE for more information about the Netflix plans. If you already have Netflix, this gift card of sorts can be put towards your account and if you don't have Netflix already, then you will for one month- no strings attached. Just one month of free movies.

Without further adieu, here are the 3 most viewed love lessons of 2010...drumroll please...

To make an informed decision, you can click on each link above to read the post. 

Want to win? Here's how to enter:
All you have to do is cast your vote for ONE of the three most viewed Jen's Love Lesson posts of 2010. And, you can cast your vote by clicking on the "Tell me what you think" or "Post a comment" link at the bottom of this post and leaving a comment OR by leaving a comment under the post about this contest on my Facebook fan page.

All entries (comments on Facebook and on Jen's Love Lessons) will be combined based on time of entry (so technically, if you comment on both, you're increasing your odds of winning). Then, the winner will be chosen using random.org.

You have until WEDNESDAY December 29, 2010 @ 5:00 p.m. EST to enter. The winner will be posted on the Jen's Love Lessons homepage that night. The winner will then have until 5:00 p.m. EST on January 2 to email me at jenslovelessons@gmail.com with their contact information.

*All entries received after the cutoff time will be deleted prior to choosing a winner.


Good Luck!

the magic 5 to 1 ratio: 4 ways to integrate more positivity into your relationship




"It takes ten atta-boys to erase one negative comment"

I'm sure you've heard this said before about raising children, but what if I told you that the same logic is extremely useful in romantic relationships as well? John Gottman, a famous relationship researcher and professor, believes that successful, happy relationships (and especially marriages) require at least a 5 to 1 ratio between positive and negative interactions, respectively. I couldn't agree more.

Just think about it. Relationships are shaped by the experiences that we share with our partners. And unfortunately, we tend to let negative experiences influence our feelings about our relationships more so than positive experiences. For example, infidelity (a very negative experience) can drastically change the dynamics of a relationship (i.e. the amount of communication, physical touch, etc.) much more than a positive experience of equal magnitude (for example, your partner taking you on a surprise romantic weekend get-a-way) changes these same dynamics in a positive way. Sure, you may feel loved and have greater feelings of commitment after this vacation, but overall, you won't experience as many immediate effects from your mate's romantic gesture.

The notion that negative experiences, as opposed to positive experiences, have a greater impact on our lives has been referred to by researchers as the negativity bias (Baumister, Bratslavsky, Vohs, & Finkenauer, 2001). This concept argues that "[h]umans are biased toward behaving in a manner that will avoid negative experiences, and are much more likely to recall and be influenced by negative experiences from the past" (Ellis-Christensen, 2010, p. 1).

Because of this, integrating more positivity into your relationship is very important. But for many of us, this can be a difficult task to complete. I get it, you have so many other things to worry about and finding ways to be more positive is just one more thing to go on your seemingly never-ending to-do list. I promise though, that once you make positivity with your partner a habit, it will not seem like a chore anymore. It will become part of your natural interaction patterns with one another.

Below are four ways that you can be more positive with the one you love.

1. Show Interest
Showing interest in your partner's opinions, hobbies, job, and overall life experiences (past and present) can make him or her feel loved and special. Ask your mate about his or her day, listen whenever he or she is talking (especially when it's important!), and participate in your mate's life (either by sharing some hobbies together, supporting your mate's interests, or just by doing things together).


2. Act Thoughtful
Thinking about your mate and taking his or her values, beliefs, and desires into consideration as you go about your daily activities allows you to be more in-tune with your partner when you are actually together. Buying (or making!) your partner thoughtful gifts, surprising your mate with something you know he or she would absolutely love, or thinking of what your partner would want when making decisions that could potentially impact him/her are great ways to remain thoughtful.


3. Appreciate
Telling your soulmate how much you appreciate anything and everything that he or she does for you is an excellent way to incorporate a little positivity into your life together. And, being specific in your commenting is even better. Instead of just saying, "I appreciate you" (which is still a really GREAT thing to say), you could mention that you are truly grateful for the way that your partner does the dishes everyday or that you can't imagine what life would be like if you didn't have your partner to kiss you goodnight or that you are incredibly thankful for how hard your partner works to provide for your family. Everyone likes to hear that their efforts are not going unnoticed.


4. Be Affectionate
Whether you decide to smile, stare into each other's eyes, sit next to one another on the couch, hug, use those cutesy and sometimes mushy nicknames, or just kiss, being affectionate towards your partner has the potential to ignite feelings of closeness and intimacy in your relationship.


All of these behaviors (and many, many others) can help you incorporate more positivity into your life. So, for every one negative interaction, try to have five (or more!) positive experiences with your partner.




References

  • Baumister, R.F., Bratslavsky, E., Vohs, C., & Finkenauer, K.D. (2001). Bad is stronger than good. Review of General Psychology, 5, 323-370.
  • Ellis-Christensen, T. (2010). What is the negativity bias? www.wisegeek.com


top five relationship blog!



GuidetoOnlineSchools.com has named Jen's Love Lessons as one of their favorite FIVE relationship blogs and I couldn't be happier!


You can click HERE to read more about their top 50 Best Relationship Blogs. Thanks Guide to Online Schools!



top 10 marriage blog finalist!


Jen's Love Lessons is a finalist in The Marry Blogger's Top 10 Marriage Blogs contest! Click HERE to vote for Jen's Love Lessons!

repost: it's beginning to look a lot like...


Christmas is right around the corner. And you know what that means! You get to spend some quality time with all of your friends and family. Many of you will be traveling in the next couple of days to far away places, while others may be hosting the entire family at their homes. Initially, this sounds like a great idea, but the truth of the matter is that the holidays can be an extremely stressful time. From sleeping on an uncomfortable pull-out couch, to your kids bouncing off the walls because it's too cold to go outside, to arguing over which family member's house you're going to for Christmas dinner, the holidays can cause serious conflict in your relationships with family, friends, and significant others. So, what can you do to make this year as stress-free as possible?


While there's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, I have a few suggestions. 

  • Relax. Try not to stress out over all of the decorating, cleaning, and cooking. I know it may sound cheesy, but Christmas is about love, togetherness, and family, not who's house is the cleanest. Spend quality time with the ones you love. Talk to them. Don't just sit around. Turn off the TV and have some meaningful conversations. Don't have anything to talk about? You could have everyone name their favorite movie of 2010, discuss their favorite family moment of 2010, share their biggest accomplishment of 2010, or talk about their favorite or most hated celebrity of 2010. Any of these topics could create some interesting discussions with your family members. If you want to avoid unnecessary conflict, try to stay away from topics like politics, religion, or money.
  • Make something. Make a gingerbread house, decorate cookies, bake a cake or a pie, build a snowman, or make ornaments for your tree. Doing something with your family is really enjoyable for everyone involved. 
  • Play a game. Again, you want to actually do something with your friends and family instead of just vegging-out on the couch. Get out a board game, make some snacks, and play a game all afternoon.


When it comes to those crazy family members who seem to always say the wrong thing, stay calm. I know it's difficult (believe me, I know), but arguing during the holidays is not fun for anyone. For those of you who are those crazy family members, remember:

  • Don't criticize. Criticism can be extremely hurtful. It's also a great way to create animosity and conflict in your relationship. And so you know, any message that has the words "always" or "never" in reference to something that someone is doing or has done is usually considered criticism. For example, "Your kitchen is never clean" or "You always speed on this road" are examples of criticism. Try to avoid these messages this holiday.
  • If you're going to compliment someone, actually compliment. Many times people give back-handed compliments instead of real, genuine praises. You know exactly what I'm talking about. You're in your Aunt Mable's kitchen, which is immaculate, and your Aunt Greta says, "Wow dear, this kitchen is so fancy, you've done a great job decorating it. I never would have thought that you had the decorating gene in you. I mean, the rest of your house, well..." C'mon people! Just stick with complimenting; there's no need to go down that road of negativity.
  • Keep your opinions to yourself. Unless you're asked, there is absolutely no reason why you should ever insert your opinions about how a child should be cared for, how to cook a holiday dish, how to decorate the tree, or the like. Unwanted advice is another excellent way to create conflict this holiday season (or any season for that matter).

If all else fails, rent the movie Four Christmases
with your (adult) family... it's hilarious!


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