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Make every day Valentine's Day By Keishon Thomas

Once the flowers have wilted and the chocolates are gone, we tend to take the focus off of our relationships. Whether or not you go all out for Valentine’s Day, now is a great time to re-evaluate your relationships.

Are there areas for improvement? Is everyone healthy and happy?

Here are a few resources from University of Georgia Cooperative Extension to help keep love alive all year.

Communicate effectively with your partner. “Women and men have occasionally been found to interpret the same messages differently, and these differences in interpretation are often the causes of major conflicts,” said UGA Extension Family Life Specialist Ted Futris.

Sometimes, I say one thing and my husband hears another. Ensuring that your partner understands what you are trying to communicate – even if they see it differently – is important. It is also important to listen when your partner communicates with you. I am a different person than I was when I was newly married. I have changed and so has my husband. We have acknowledged those changes – some have been good for us – only because we communicated openly and honestly about them early on.

Share moments throughout the day. According to the book “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work,” “couples in stable marriages maintain at least five times as many positive moments together than negative moments on a daily basis.” Between the children, work, planning for retirement and caregiving for an older parent, the appreciation may not always be voiced. Saying “I appreciate you” can go a long way.

Similarly, compliments also serve as positive reinforcements. I have a lot more pep in my step when my husband says, “You look nice today.” You can also use technology and send an unexpected selfie. You will be pleased with the response.

Sometimes I feel like we are in the movie “Groundhog Day” doing the same things over and over again: chauffeuring children, preparing dinner and watching “Jeopardy.” Breaking up that monotony can bring new excitement into your relationship. It causes us to view our partners in a different light. On date night, I actually feel like we are dating again because it is just us – no bills, squabbling children or general stresses of life.

Try something new together. Find a new restaurant, attraction or park to visit. “Sip ‘n’ Paint” date nights, for instance, are increasing in popularity and are quite fun. You get to spend quality time with your partner and make wonderful memories. Peruse the lifestyles section of your local newspaper to find more events happening in or near your community.

Laughter is still good medicine. While there are health benefits associated with laughter, such as reduction of blood pressure and stress, it can also help your relationship. When I have observed long, happy relationships, I have noticed the common thread of laughter. One of the reasons I truly love my husband is his sense of humor. It has helped us through many stressful, and sometimes awkward, situations.

According to Henry Ward Beecher, “A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs, jolted by every pebble in the road.” Relationships are the same. Laughter can help ease the jolts of life that are sure to come.

(Keishon Thomas is the University of Georgia Extension family and consumer sciences agent in Bibb County.)

Vacation
Vacation

Whether it's a date night to the movies, spending the day kayaking on the Towilaga River or a weekend touring the Biltmore House, newlyweds Sam and Amanda Williamson make an effort to spend time together. "Sam's my best friend and my husband," Amanda said. "We have fun together no matter where we are."

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Whether it's a date night to the movies, spending the day kayaking on the Towilaga River or a weekend touring the Biltmore House, newlyweds Sam and Amanda Williamson make an effort to spend time together. "Sam's my best friend and my husband," Amanda said. "We have fun together no matter where we are." Download Image
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