4 Ways to Nurture Your Relationships

Learn to identify flaws in your marriage, talk to your parents about aging, comfort a friend with a serious illness, or jump back into dating.

By Reader's Digest Editors
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    How to Stay Married

    Do you two have what it takes to endure? Professor and sexologist Pepper Schwartz, PhD, offers five ways to probe your feelings -- and prove your love: Do you have trouble finding solutions to problems together? Is your spouse making most of the decisions? Does he or she withhold affection? Is your mate defensive? Are you? Is he or she inflexible?

    Bottom line: If you've answered affirmatively to most of these questions, it's time to get to work. Discussing your answers might be a good place to start.

    4 Tips for Getting Back into Dating

    Feeling a little rusty? Psychologist Judith Sills, PhD, recommends three attitude adjustments and a new skill: Be truly single. Lose your agenda. Practice on social-networking sites. Forgive your mistakes.

    -- Sills is the author of Getting Naked Again: Dating, Romance, Sex, and Love When You've Been Divorced, Widowed, Dumped, or Distracted.

    How to Talk to Your Parents About Aging

    There's no easy way to broach the tough but inevitable conversations many of us will have to have with one or both of our parents as they get older. But you can make the conversation more successful and less stressful. Gerontologist Alexis Abramson, PhD, author of The Caregiver's Survival Handbook, says the mistake most people make is waiting until they are in the middle of a crisis to begin. "Have these conversations well in advance," she says. "And don't just show up with the problem. Come ready to provide solutions."

    How to Comfort a Friend

    When a friend receives a serious diagnosis, it's the rare individual who knows instinctively how to respond. Here are four rules: Assume nothing. Do more listening than talking. "I don't know what to say" is okay. But don't push. You can ask, "How are you feeling?" If you hear "I'm great!" that means "I don't want to talk."

    Sara Goldberger, a cancer survivor, an oncology social worker, and director of program support for Gilda's Club Worldwide (gildasclub.org; 888-GILDA-4-U)

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