How to Accept Compliments Graciously

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Accepting compliments is hard for many people. We don’t want to give the impression that we are conceited, and in some cases we don’t feel like we deserve the compliment. Unfortunately, rejecting or dodging a compliment is hurtful to the person giving the compliment and takes away the joy they receive from giving the compliment. So how can we respond graciously when complimented?

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Think about what the compliment means to the other person

  • Carlson points out that giving a compliment requires thought and courage, and comes from a desire to bring happiness to the person being complimented. However you choose to reply, you want to honor the kindness of the person’s action.

Respond kindly, saying something like:

  • “Thank you! That’s nice of you to notice.”
  • “Thank you! I worked hard on it.”
  • “Thank you! It’s always nice to be appreciated.”
  • NOT “Oh, this old thing? I just threw it on!” or “I just got lucky, I guess.”

Return the compliment (without rejecting it):

  • “Thank you! I like your dress as well.”
  • “Thank you! Is that a new hairdo?”
  • NOT “Oh, you’re much prettier than me!” or “Well, I’m sure you could have done it better.”
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Source: enkivillage.com

Keep the conversation moving

  • If compliments make you uncomfortable, there is no need to dwell on them. After you’ve responded with appreciation to the compliment, move the conversation on to more comfortable topics. That might sound about like this: “Thank you! I’m glad you liked it! I thought the brass section was excellent, didn’t you?”

Compliments are a good thing for the people giving them and the person receiving them, so next time you receive a compliment, do your best to accept the compliment graciously. The person giving the compliment will feel happy, you will show confidence instead of insecurity, and you will be more likely to receive more compliments in the future. There really are no downsides to accepting compliments graciously!

Trusting My Husband with the Baby

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Since we’re talking this week about not questioning your partner’s reasons for every small decision they make, I did a quick mental review of my own behavior. Did I question my husband about small choices that didn’t really matter? As I considered it, I quickly realized that I frequently do that with my husband’s parenting choices.

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Source: livescience.com

Now, I should make it clear right here that my husband is an excellent parent. He is a caring, involved parent who sticks right in there through the good and bad times of parenting. Any advantage that I have over him in the area of understanding our daughter comes only from the fact that he is gone for 8 hours a day for work, while I’m with her all day, but he is observant and has good intuition, so he rarely needs help from me. He has taken care of her on his own on several occasions, and I have come home to a happy, healthy, content baby.

So why do I feel the need the question the small decisions he makes with our daughter? I do question him frequently. “Why did you dress her in that?” or “Don’t you think you should put her down for a nap?” or “Why are you feeding her that?” The truth is, he can be trusted to make good decisions, so I should stop bugging him. I think my behavior comes from a desire to feel needed, and maybe a desire to feel better than him. I’m not proud of that, but I think it’s the truth. Neither of those are good things, so I’m going to try to step back and little bit more and let him parent without my input. I’m sure he will appreciate it, and I will be a better person for it.

 

Trust Your Partner’s Motives

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For most people who get married, a belief that their partner is basically competent and capable of making good decisions is a part of the deal. When you hear people talk to their partners, though, it sometimes makes you wonder whether they have forgotten that their partner can make decisions without their input. It is common to hear people ask their partners, “Why would you do THAT?” or “Shouldn’t you be doing THIS?”

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Source: lifestyleupdated.com

Now, it isn’t always a bad thing to question your partner’s motives. After all, if a decision your partner is making affects you or your relationship directly, it’s important to understand the factors they are using to make that decision.

However, a lot of times questioning your partner’s motives is really just an excuse to focus on a tiny issue that doesn’t even need discussion. We’re talking here about things like, “Why did you boil the broccoli when you could steam it?” or “Why are you wearing tennis shoes when it’s warm enough to wear flip flops?” or “Why would you go swimming when jogging is much better exercise?”

As Carlson points out, saying these types of things sends the message, “I don’t have enough respect for you to allow you to make your own decisions. You must clear them with me so that I can give you my approval or disapproval.” What a message to send to your partner!

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If you find yourself struggling with this tendency, as many of us do, step back for a moment and think about all the decisions your partner made without your input before they met you. Think of all the decisions they make when they are away from you. While they don’t make perfect decisions, since no one does, they are probably reasonably good at making decisions without your input. If they aren’t (or if you think they aren’t), that’s a serious problem, and you should probably get to counseling as soon as you can. Most likely, though, the problem is an unfortunate habit of treating your partner as incompetent instead of trusting them to make their own decisions. Try showing a little more faith in their decisions, and you may find that they will feel more comfortable and less defensive around you, and possibly even ask for your input more often on important personal decisions.

Ways I Annoy My Husband

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Well, I promised you on Tuesday that I would follow through with this week’s strategy and ask my husband what he finds most difficult about being in a relationship with me. The results are in, and it ain’t pretty, folks!

When I first asked, my husband tried his best to get around the question without answering it directly. He told me that the most difficult thing about our relationship, like any relationship, was finding ways to balance our separate wants and needs and make our way to workable compromises. Obviously, that’s a tricky thing to balance in any relationship, but I couldn’t let myself off that easily, so I dug deeper.

After a few unsuccessful rephrasings of the question, I finally hit on one that worked: “What is the most obnoxious thing that I do in our relationship?” He was reluctant to answer the question, which tells me that he is not naturally inclined to upset anyone and that I tend to be defensive enough that stating frustrations directly can be tricky.

He finally shared two frustrations because he said he couldn’t decide which one was a bigger deal to him. First, he felt I could be emotionally needy at times, needing hugs and cuddles when he wasn’t necessarily ready or able to give them. Second, he said that I sometimes don’t take his priorities into account as much as my own.

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Source: classic105.com

These weren’t necessarily the things I expected him to say, but I can see where he is coming from. I don’t think I’m extremely needy emotionally, but I have my moments, and since he not emotionally needy at all, I can see how that could be frustrating for him. I can also definitely see that giving more weight to his priorities is something I should work on. I can get so stuck in my own plans and goals sometimes that I’m not willing to let them be sidetracked by anything, even if he has an equally valid consideration that I should consider.

Now, I must admit that the reflections I’ve shared above were not my first thoughts. I tried to be accepting while he was telling me his thoughts, but I caught my mind trying to wander off into defensive patterns a few times. I found myself thinking, “Well, he does that too!” or “Yeah, but he does this…” Fortunately, I was able to catch myself and recognize that my thoughts were an attempt to protect myself, not valid additions to the conversation. Instead of voicing any of those thoughts, I thanked him for giving me the information and told him that I think it is helpful to know what he thinks because it can point out blind spots I haven’t recognized.

It was a tough conversation for me, and it required considerable bravery and self-control both to have the conversation and to resist defending myself. However, I feel like it was very beneficial. Not only did my husband have a chance to voice his concerns, but I feel more comfortable because I can be confident now that I know what he is struggling with, instead of wondering and guessing, which leaves a lot of room for interpretation and unnecessary worry. I also feel closer to him because only people who are truly close can talk that honestly with each other and not fear that the relationship will fall to pieces.

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Source: deviantart.com

As scary as it is to ask your partner what you do that makes the relationship difficult for the other person, I can now say from experience that I think it is worth the risk. After all, your partner already has these thoughts. By giving your partner a chance to speak their concerns into the open, you can address their concerns, your partner can feel listened to, and you can both feel closer because you are communicating with openness and vulnerability.

What Does Your Partner Dislike about You?

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We’ve talked about many difficult strategies in this blog. This week’s strategy may require the most bravery of any we’ve discussed so far, though: ask your partner what is the most difficult thing about being in a relationship with you. Are you brave enough to try it? I’m going to, but I’m definitely nervous about it.

Why would you want to do this anyway? Wouldn’t it just stir up resentments in your partner? Well, actually, the opposite is more likely. Think of it this way: your partner is already living with whatever is more difficult about being with you. But instead of being in the open, it is underground, festering resentment. By bringing it out in the open, you give yourself a chance to try to improve yourself and your relationship, and your partner is less likely to resent you because of the issue, as they will see that you are doing your best to improve.

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The fact that this strategy is useful doesn’t mean it is easy. As a really defensive person, I’m certainly not looking forward to it. However, I believe in the strategy, and I don’t want to be a hypocrite by telling you to try something but avoiding it myself, so I’m going to go for it. Wish me luck, and check back in on Friday to see how it goes.

Oh, and one last note on this strategy, provided by Carlson:

If all goes well, perhaps your partner may even ask you for your feedback as well. If that turns out not to be the case, however, that’s okay too. Whatever you do, don’t demand reciprocation. If you do, your partner will probably have one more issue to discuss with you the next time you are this question.

My Frazzled Evening

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When I saw that this week’s topic was about not coming home frazzled, my immediate reaction was to think that this topic didn’t apply to me. After all, I’m a stay at home mom. I never really come home, I’m just there all day. On further reflection, though, I think that this strategy should be retitled. I think it should be called, “Let go of the day’s stress before approaching your partner.”
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Source: wordpress.com

Being at home with a baby all day can be stressful, and I dump that stress on my husband when he gets home more often than I would like. Just yesterday, I decided that the way to end a rough day would be to have a serious discussion with my husband right after he returned home. Specifically, I wanted to talk to him about how I wanted him to do more around the house. Unfortunately, I decided to have this conversation with him before I released my stress from the day, and without giving him time to let go his. As you might expect, the discussion quickly turn into an argument.

Fortunately, our daughter woke up from her nap and we had to take a break from the conversation to take care of her. We ate, relaxed, and spend some time together talking about nothing of any importance. When we came back to the conversation later that evening, it was still not an easy conversation, but it was much easier than it had been when we were both still stressed from the frustrations of the day.
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Source: monster.com

Having the conversation go badly was a good reminder to me of how important it is to relax before having difficult discussions and to allow my partner to relax as well. I wish we could have skipped the fight and gone straight to the insight, but that’s not always possible, even in strong relationships. Hopefully, next time I’ll know better.

Don’t Come Home Frazzled

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We all have bad days. Days when everything has gone wrong.┬áDays when we want to walk in the house and slammed the door. And that’s okay. Really! We’ve already discussed the fact that your partner is human, and that goes for you too. You’re allowed to have a bad day. The trick is to keep that bad day from negatively affecting your relationship. It’s tempting after a long day to come home and unload your struggles on your partner, or even worse, to direct your frustration at your partner. Unfortunately, either solution brings negativity into your relationship.

Instead of bringing the negativity of a bad day into your relationship, take a minute before you engage with your partner to relax and let go of the stresses of the day. You can relax by reading a book, watching a bit of your favorite show, going on a quick run, or doing whatever else is relaxing for you.
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Source: sheknows.com

Obviously, there will be times when talking to your partner will be the best way to deal with your frustrations. And that’s okay too. Just make sure that you are not doing it enough that it brings unnecessary negativity into your relationship. Taking a minute to relax on your own can help you to have less negativity in your relationship, which will come in handy when you have something that does need to be addressed with your partner.

My Offensive Husband

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One of the things that I love about my husband is his irreverent sense of humor. He says things that are outlandish and inappropriate because he finds it amusing, and fortunately for him I also find it funny. Most of the time, anyway.

This week, I found myself not appreciating my husband’s humor. Instead of laughing when he made a comment that was sarcastic or outrageous, I felt offended, like he was attacking me. His remarks started to feel like jabs instead of lighthearted joking.

Then, last night, I was cleaning up the living room. My husband, who was relaxing while the baby played on the floor, saw that I had picked up his wallet and keys from the mantle and was moving them. He came over, grabbed them out of my hands, and said, “That’s mine! Don’t move my stuff!”

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Now, I knew he meant no offense by this. Believe it or not, he would not have been offended if I did the same to him. In his mind it was a “I’m saying this so dramatically that I can’t actually be very serious about it” kind of thing. I, however, was unimpressed. I’m ashamed to say that instead of responding maturely, I snapped, “You clean it up, then!” and stormed out of the room.

I recognized pretty quickly that I had let a small comment become a big deal, so I went to him a few minutes later and apologized for snapping at him. The comment was, after all, not that big of a deal. Instead of just leaving it there, though, I took a minute to think about why the comment had upset me. I’ve often found that when I get upset about something seemingly small, there is something larger behind my reaction. On reflection, I realized that the comment had upset me because I had started to feel like I was doing more than my fair share of the housework and because I want to make sure that our daughter grows up seeing her parents speaking kindly to each other. Oh, and because I’m very tired, and being tired kills your sense of humor.

I explained this to my husband, and sharing it made me feel like he understood better what was going on in my mind. I’m not sure that we’ve fully resolved this issue, since that is my husband’s natural sense of humor, and that’s unlikely to change soon. Even if he could change it, I’m also not sure whether I would want him to change it. So we are still in dialogue about it, but I think maybe that’s enough for now.

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Source: livehappylivestrong.com

We talked on Tuesday about not blowing small comments out of proportion, and after my experience this week I want to add that instead of blowing up, it may help to look deeper and see what is causing the temptation to overreact. If there is something larger underlying the reaction, try dealing with that instead of focusing in on the specific comment, since the comment itself is not the problem. It worked for me!

Letting Negative Comments Go

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When I was dating, I always hated first dates. Going on a first date is nerve-wracking. Obviously, there is the question of whether you will enjoy each other’s company, but on top of that is the knowledge that if you say or do one wrong thing during the date, the other person may decide to pass on a second date, even if you really enjoyed your time together. Each thing you say potentially has great significance for your future.

One of the many benefits of being in a long term relationship is that the urgency of constantly saying and doing the right things fades. Did the two of you have a bad date? Who cares? You’ve had many good dates already, and will have many more. Did you or your partner say something stupid? Who cares? Over time, this will become just one of the many things you have said to each other over the years.

Sometimes, though, we fall into the trap of obsessing over each negative or thoughtless comment our partner makes as if it is of deep importance, when most likely it is simply the result of a bad day or an empty stomach or a misunderstanding. That’s not to say that a pattern of negative remarks shouldn’t be addressed; of course it should. Addressing a pattern is different from fixating on one event and treating it like a major issue when it is not.

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Source: auburn.edu

This is one place where the “Jump Ahead and Look Back” strategy we discussed recently can be helpful. Instead of simply jumping to the conclusion that a negative remark from your partner must be treated extremely seriously, take a moment to ask yourself: “One year from now, will I remember this remark? Five years from now?” I’m not a fan of allowing hurtful comments to pass unaddressed, as research does show that relationships are more successful long-term when couples address issues as they arise, but putting things into perspective can allow you to address the comment in a way that matches its importance, so that minor issues are dealt with calmly and quickly rather than becoming a bigger issue than they need to be.

How My Daughter Has Affected My Marriage

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One of my hesitations about having children was a fear of what it would do to my relationship. I had seen friends seem perfectly happy in their relationships until they had children, then suddenly implode shortly after the birth of their children. I had heard the statistics about marriage satisfaction dropping after the birth of children. I was happy in my relationship, and I didn’t want to lose my closeness with my husband.

Now, I’m not very far into being a parent yet. However, the statistics show that marriage satisfaction drops most sharply during the first year after a baby’s birth, and although we’re over halfway through the first year, I’m happy to say that we have not experienced this kind of sharp decline. On the one hand, it’s true that we are sometimes snappier with each other. Having a new baby is stressful, after all. On the other hand, we have a new shared sense of purpose. We are at the beginning of the most important task of our lives together, raising our daughter to be a healthy, productive human being, and that has deepened our relationship tremendously. I also see new reasons to love my husband every day through seeing the way that he loves and cares for our daughter.

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Source: babydigezt.com

Having taken another look at the statistics, I can see that my experience is not exactly unexpected. It’s true that 67% of relationships show a drop in relationship satisfaction after the birth of a child, but if you look at it the other way, that means that 33% of couples have no change in relationship satisfaction or an increase. We discussed a study by Gottman on Tuesday that showed that couples who improved their relationship skills before the baby’s birth were less likely to show this decline, and another Gottman study that I read today found a similar result, plus some information that explains the difference between happiness in couples with children and those without. First of all, the study found that happy newlyweds tended to become happy parents. In other words, those who tended to struggle with become parents were often those who were already struggling with their relationships. Second, couples without children were less likely to experience sharp declines in happiness, but this was partly because these couples were more likely to divorce quickly, meaning that only the happiest childless couples stayed together, which bumped up the happiness scores of childless couples over time. (For more on this study, check out this article: Parenthood Detrimental to Marriage?)

I plan on maintaining a healthy relationship with my husband for the long run, and what I’ve seen while reading about the topic this week has been clear: in order to have a healthy relationship after becoming parents, it’s necessary to consistently work on building connection and positive communication skills. In other words, I need to keep doing what I was doing already, consistently working toward strong relationship skills and bringing those to my marriage. Aside from wanting to have a healthy relationship for personal reasons, I also want very much to provide our daughter with a model for a healthy, happy marriage so that our example will help and not hinder her when she is ready to develop a relationship of her own. For me, that is more than enough motivation to keep myself constantly striving toward the relationship that will be best for all of us in the long run, even if it is difficult at times, which it surely will be. I believe the struggles will be worth it in the end.

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