Be the kind of wife or girlfriend that makes him feel like a winner.

How to Be a Better Girlfriend or Wife

by Shelli Proffitt Howells

Falling in love with a great guy is easy; staying in love can be a lot harder. Maintaining a healthy, happy relationship takes work. If you've discovered bumps in the road to romance, you may be tempted to try to “fix” your partner. Instead, start with yourself. By taking a few simple steps to become a better wife or girlfriend, you can quickly and easily improve your relationship.

1. Kindness

The most notable thing successful marriage partners have in common is they are kind to each other, says John Gottman, author of "The Seven Principles for Making a Marriage Work." They communicate love and respect to their partners every day and in many small ways. They show affection and interest in one another and use more humor. Begin by focusing on your partner's positive qualities more than his faults. Notice the things that he does for you and express your appreciation. Respond to him when he's trying to reach out and connect. Don't ignore problems, but approach them gently. Never allow an argument to devolve into accusations, yelling or name calling.

2. Communication

It's no surprise that men and women communicate differently. Men are experts in “report” talk, says Cynthia Burggraf Torppa, Ph.D. They value communication that involves analyzing issues and solving problems. They focus on task accomplishment and asking questions about facts. Women, however, are experts in “rapport” talk. They value communication that builds, maintains and strengthens relationships. They focus on nurturing, emotional expression, empathy and support. Understanding these differences can help you improve your communication. Your partner will be more open to your relationship-building if you approach him in a manner he is comfortable with. Don't overwhelm him with emotion when you're trying to talk; allow yourself to cool down before you approach him. Begin your conversation directly by letting him know what you expect: “I just need to vent," “Can I tell you about my day?” “What do you think I should do?” or “We need to talk about a problem.”

3. Availability

While women bond verbally, a male partner can bond just by sharing space, according to Ramona Zabriskie in her book, “Wife for Life: The Power to Succeed in Marriage.” He enjoys your company beside him in quiet contentment. Make time in your busy schedule to spend time together. Establish the habit of having regular date nights. Take up a hobby you both can enjoy. Make love often. Go for a walk, have dinner out or simply stay inside and watch a movie.

4. Independence

While too much independence can hurt a relationship, too much dependence isn't the answer, either. It is important for people to have a separate life and existence to feel validated as individuals. Encourage your partner to follow his interests, but don't stay home pining away while he's out. Develop your own interests and unique talents as well. Enjoy a girls' night out, work on a project or learn something new. Fostering your individuality makes you both more interesting and enhances your relationship.

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