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Welcome to the HPRC Blog. We've got lots of information here, from quick tips to in-depth posts about detailed human performance optimization topics.

HPRC Fitness Arena: Family & Relationships

How to build intimacy in your relationship

Intimacy is essential to your healthy romantic relationship. Learn how to connect with your partner.

Intimacy is your sense of closeness with your partner, and it’s a key component of successful romantic relationships. You can build it by sharing thoughts, ideas, experiences, and emotions, and through physical touch. The level of shared intimacy in your romantic relationship makes it different from other relationships too. Many couples report greater relationship satisfaction when they share intimacy, while others tend to seek therapy when they lack intimacy.

So, how do you build intimacy in your relationship?

  • Communicate with your partner. Positive communication leads to higher levels of intimacy. It builds when you discuss your own vulnerabilities, and your partner listens and strives to understand your experiences. This can be challenging for Warfighters who train to not share information. To work through this, practice being assertive and a good listener. Intimacy builds when you share things that are deeply personal and your partner listens, honors, and respects what you’re saying.
  • Choose the “right” time to talk. An important piece of good communication is timing—and knowing when your partner is able to fully listen. Asking your partner, “Do you have some time to talk?” can help you determine that “right” time to talk things over. If distance makes it hard to find time to talk, written communication can be very effective if it’s assertive and received with respect.
  • Enjoy time together. You also can build intimacy by spending time doing mutually enjoyable activities. Experiencing new things with your partner can create a shared sense of intimacy as you encounter obstacles and solve problems together.
  • Explore physical touch. Sex and physical touch make your romantic relationship unique. To build intimacy, talk about your sex needs and listen to your partner as well. Sharing physical intimacy helps couples feel close and connected.

Intimacy builds over time and through multiple experiences, so it requires an ongoing investment from you. And remember it’s common for couples to experience peaks and valleys of intimacy levels in their long-term relationships. Visit HPRC’s Sex, Sexuality, & Intimacy section for more information on how to build intimacy in your relationship.

Posted 29 May 2017

Lullabies help soothe baby and “new parent” stress

There’s great joy in becoming a new parent. To ease the stress during this transition and forge a bond with your little one, try singing to your baby.

While having a baby can bring immense joy, it also can spark anxieties for new parents and cause tension between them. So try singing lullabies to help relieve stress and soothe your cranky infant.

An infant’s neediness sometimes can make new parents question their competence. It’s normal to worry about your baby’s health and your new parenting role. Singing lullabies and other playful songs can help you feel connected to your baby as you share a soothing and enjoyable interaction. Moms, in particular, report that singing to their infants helps them experience and convey positive emotions such as happiness, pleasure, and satisfaction.

Singing is a way to focus attention on your baby and see your little one’s reactions to your voice, gestures, and facial expressions. This type of exchange can help you feel more confident as a parent and closer to your baby. His or her reactions can then inspire feelings such as pride and amazement, which dampens your stress and anxieties.

Singing lullabies can help new parents feel satisfied and calm too. There’s often a physical component to singing as well, where you sway together, or your infant snuggles in your lap. Some parents also report that singing changes their babies’ behavior. Babies can feel calmer, and both parent and baby can experience relaxation and harmony together. Mothers who sing to their babies say it soothes them, which leads to less crying.

If you’re currently pregnant, start singing to your baby now and continue after her or his birth. It’s possible singing taps into a natural tendency you have, but even if it doesn’t, singing lullabies and other playful songs is something you can get acquainted with doing. Use this strategy to lessen “new parent” stress and help you bond with your baby.

 

Posted 22 May 2017

How TBI affects couples' relationships

A traumatic brain injury not only changes your loved one, it also changes your relationship as a couple.

When your partner suffers a traumatic brain injury (TBI), changes to your relationship are likely. Both of you can experience a range of emotions as you adapt to new expectations in your relationship, but you can weather the changes. TBIs can occur without warning, and the path to recovery isn’t always clear, which can add strain to your romantic relationship. Read more...

Military kids and mindfulness

Encouraging your kids to be mindful supports their mental health. Learn how to bring mindfulness into your family.

Children can boost their mental wellness by learning and practicing mindfulness. It helps them be more aware of their thoughts and feelings “in the moment” and enables them to better manage their emotions and reactions. When children and teens accept their emotions, they can avoid becoming overwhelmed and suppressing their feelings. Practicing mindfulness can help reduce anxiety, improve performance, and build resilience. Bringing mindfulness into your family can help create calm and peaceful times together. Read more...

Save more, spend less, and reduce stress

Managing your family’s finances means balancing your spending and saving habits. Get ahead of the stress that financial strain can bring with these money management tips.

“Smart” spending and saving habits might help reduce your stress. Money issues tend to be a major source of stress for many Americans, and military families are no exception. The 2016 Blue Star Families survey results showed that financial issues are a top concern for service members and their families.

Poor money-management skills and lack of financial resources can lead to stress that spills over into your relationships, wearing you down. The good news is “smart” spending and saving can help you cope with stress and feel in control during troublesome times. Good saving habits, in particular, can help reduce financial unpredictability, which also could lower your stress. Read more...

Kids benefit from summer camp

Find out how kids have fun, learn, and grow at summer camp.

Children benefit from summer camp experiences that enable them to gain skills, build confidence, and learn responsibility. Summer is typically a time for kids to unwind from the rigid schedule the school year can bring. While parents often want their children’s summer to be relaxing, they want it to be educational as well. Summer camp offers both experiences.

At camp, your children can meet new kids and form friendships. This can build their competence in social situations, as they gain experience getting to know new people, asking questions, and sharing their own thoughts and ideas.

Camps can expose children to situations where they can practice leadership, teamwork, and problem-solving skills too. Whether it’s working together to build a fire or establishing camaraderie on a sports team, children can spend the bulk of their days interacting with peers and exercising decision-making skills. Camps also can help your kids explore what it feels like to take on leadership roles in a group.

The learning component of camps can lead to skill attainment. When they face new adventures and implement newly learned skills, kids’ self-esteem grows. Their confidence blooms when they work through the successes and failures of new experiences as well.

Your children’s time at summer camp also can help them learn responsibility and independence, especially if it’s a sleep-away camp. When kids have to take care of their own belongings and share team responsibilities, they grow as individuals. They also learn about cooperation and how to be self-sufficient.

Kids can learn to appreciate nature through their experiences in summer camp too. Children who spend time in nature develop a deeper sense of gratitude for the outdoors.

With summer around the corner, plan your kids’ summer camp experiences now. The 4-H Military Partnership offers clubs and summer camps for military kids. And check out your local military installation's programs and activities: Make sure to select Youth Program/Centers from the drop-down menu.

Resilience tips for job-seeking military spouses

If you’re a military spouse, looking for a job sometimes can feel overwhelming. Find out how to feel confident during your job search.

As a military spouse, it can be challenging to sustain your career along with your PCS moves. The good news is there are ways to help manage the stress of job searching and cope with setbacks along the way. These tips also can encourage a positive mind-set and help you feel more prepared to meet with potential employers. Consider these strategies to help stay resilient during your job search. Read more...

Should I trust the person I’m dating?

It’s risky to trust a new boyfriend or girlfriend. Ask yourself these questions to gain clarity about your partner’s trustworthiness.

Dating is a time to “experiment” with trust and evaluate if your relationship will last, so it’s normal to wonder if the person you’re dating is trustworthy. The decision to trust your new partner should depend on your own assessment of his or her commitment to you and your relationship. Mutual trust is a central component of your relationship and essential to helping it thrive.

Feeling confident that the one you’re dating will keep what you share private and have your best interests in mind helps build connection and intimacy in your relationship. Disclosing personal information—such as details from your past, your feelings on challenging topics, or intimate pictures of yourself—and knowing your partner respects your wishes not to circulate things is one way to tell if you share mutual values.

It’s risky to trust your new partner, and there’s no clear-cut way to tell if she or he is worthy of your confidence. Still, asking yourself these questions might help you gain some clarity.

  • Does your partner call as promised?
  • Can you count on him or her to show up as expected at your mutually agreed upon time and place?
  • Do others who know your boyfriend or girlfriend report that he or she is loyal and trustworthy?
  • Does he or she share information and show a willingness to trust you?
  • Is your girlfriend or boyfriend respectful of your personal wishes?
  • Do you feel pressured to share private information because she or he is insisting upon it?
  • Have you discussed and agreed to what’s okay to share with others?

Trustworthy people have integrity and care about others. If the person you’re dating pressures you to share intimate details that you’re uncomfortable revealing, listen to your instincts. If you have doubts, it’s okay to say, “No,” now and take more time to evaluate your comfort level. A trustworthy partner will respect your wishes. To learn more about building closeness and improving your relationship, visit HPRC’s Relationship Enhancement section.

Posted 10 April 2017

Help your military kids make new friends

During Military Children’s Health Month, HPRC takes a look at how military parents can help their kids make new friends.

Making and sustaining friendships is an important part of children’s growth and development. But military kids, who move often, might have to make new friends several times throughout childhood and adolescence. The ability to engage in conversations and openness towards others helps kids develop friendships.

What can you do to help your military kids make new friends?

  • Model friendly behaviors such as greeting new people, asking questions to encourage conversation, and treating others with respect. Be open to making new friends yourself when you move to a new location.
  • Emphasize the qualities that make someone a good friend. Encourage your kids to share and take turns. Children who are cooperative, helpful, and considerate tend to be more liked by their peers.
  • Talk openly about what it means to be someone’s friend. Friends are honest, supportive, and fun to be with. They share common interests and don’t bully or make you feel left out.
  • When your kids are younger, organize play dates with kids you think will complement your child’s personality. Before the play date, brainstorm with your child how to spend the time doing fun games and activities your child enjoys that will help build friendship.
  • Allow your school-age kids to choose their own friends while passively supervising the interactions.
  • Practice conversations your kids could have with new friends. Sharing thoughts and ideas is basic to any relationship, but especially friendships. Get your kids comfortable with telling others what’s on their mind and asking what their peers are thinking.
  • Discuss with your kids how to effectively manage through conflicts to sustain their friendships. Encourage them to be assertive and considerate.

Helping your kids make friends can impact them in the short and long term. Acceptance by peers can affect children’s self-esteem. As kids get older, friendships provide a sense of security and an outlet to relieve stress. Having good-quality friendships in childhood has long-term consequences, too. Having few or no friends in childhood has been linked to worse health in adulthood. As a parent, you can guide your kids toward making healthy friendships today.

Posted 03 April 2017

Why revenge against your ex doesn’t work

Filed under: Divorce, Relationships
The saying goes, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” Read on to find out why you’re not likely to benefit from taking revenge against your ex.

The end of a relationship is hard. It can be complicated further if you feel wronged. But getting revenge on your ex often has more costs than benefits. The desire for revenge might come about if you feel your ex violated the rules of your relationship. Maybe she or he was unfaithful or unresponsive to things you deemed important. People who report feeling the urge for revenge say their partner compromised their own reputation or sense of self, so they felt devalued.

Such thoughts and feelings are complex to manage. Still, revenge isn’t always a productive response. You might think vengeance will make you feel better, but the relief is probably temporary. And engaging in vengeance can create more feelings of discomfort and guilt. It isn’t likely to solve your problems, and it can end up causing more harm—to you and others—in the long run. The consequences of “taking revenge” might not be clear at first, but vengeful acts also can be unethical and immoral, leading to a range of negative outcomes, including career setbacks and family or other relationship strain.

People who think revenge is acceptable tend to be less honest, less humble, and less agreeable. They might feel they’re in a position to gain from exploiting others. Such personal characteristics aren’t desirable in long-term relationships. Successful relationships are built upon mutual respect, understanding, and trust.

Instead of getting revenge on your ex, consider the following:

  • If you feel hurt and wronged, practice good coping skills and mental resilience.
  • If you worry your reputation is damaged, surround yourself with family and good friends who will continue to support you.
  • If you’re not sure you’ll ever date again, remember that breakups are hard but also can be good for you, especially if you use this opportunity learn more about yourself.

So, set aside the urge for revenge. Handling yourself with respect and honor—even if you were wronged—reflects your strength and the characteristics new partners are likely to find attractive.

Posted 27 March 2017

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