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Tips of the Month for Couples are regular tips for building strong relationships and healthy families. If you would like to sign up to receive these monthly tips, scroll to the bottom of the page and leave your email address.

Who Unwinds?

Cortisol? It's the hormone associated with stress. It peaks shortly after awakening in the morning and decreases as the day goes on, with spikes during stressful moments. Cortisol levels can be quite high by the evening, depending on the demands of the day and the demands after the workday ends. The bad news is that elevated end-of-day cortisol has been associated with burnout, depression, and even earlier mortality. 

Hit the Pause Button

“Between the stimulus and response, there’s a space,”  wrote philosopher Victor Frankl. “And in that space lies the power to choose. In our choice lies our freedom and our growth.” 

The Gift of Self-Soothing

For your partner’s next birthday or special occasion, consider this gift idea: “My gift to you today is a promise to handle myself better in the future when I’m flooded with emotion.”  

Beneath Anger

Has your partner in a heated moment ever said something harsh or demeaning of you and suddenly you fire back with sharp, angry words of your own?   Has your partner, in a social gathering, ever revealed to friends something about you that you regarded as very personal and you turn silent, quietly simmering with anger? 

Try Something Different

If you and your partner are clever enough to commit to a regular date night, take note of this: couples who engage together in novel experiences have been found to enjoy an enhanced sense of well-being compared to couples attached to their tried and true.  

How to Complain

It’s never easy finding the balance between accepting versus complaining about the things that give us a hard time in our partner. But complain we must, occasionally and with kindness, lest a growing reservoir of irritation spill over its banks.  Here are some examples of complaints expressed well: 

Responding to Bids

It’s not the grand birthday gift or the surprise weekend getaway that form the foundation of the best relationships. No, it’s how partners respond to the endless stream of small, everyday moments when, consciously or not, we “invite” our partner’s interest.

Your Partner or Your Screen

What does the brain find more stimulating? Twenty uninterrupted minutes chatting with a spouse, or twenty minutes checking email, surfing websites, receiving texts, and glancing up occasionally to follow the action on the flat screen television?