Relationship

Reader’s Digest

Reader’s Digest https://www.rd.com Wed, 11 Dec 2019 03:30:50 -0500 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.0.3 https://www.rd.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/NEWRDicon10.9.18-150×150.png Reader’s Digest https://www.rd.com 32 32 Are Crossed Arms Rude? 8 Secrets Your Body Language Reveals About You https://www.rd.com/advice/relationships/reading-body-language/ https://www.rd.com/advice/relationships/reading-body-language/#comments Thu, 05 Dec 2019 19:00:04 +0000 https://www.rd.com/?post_type=slideshows&p=89991 Find out what your gestures and movements are saying with these expert insights.

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crossed arms

Crossing your arms? Others may read crossed arms to mean you’re distant, insecure, anxious, defensive, or stubborn, according to Barbara and Allen Pease in The Definitive Book of Body Language. But crossed arms have their pluses, too. Driver points out that this pose can make someone better at sticking to a difficult task, citing a study that found adults who crossed their arms and then were asked hard math questions were 30 percent more likely to keep trying to solve them than those who kept their hands on a table. “The act of crossing your arms utilizes both your left and right brain, creating higher cognitive function,” says Driver. In a 2019 Wired video, former FBI agent Joe Navarro even calls arm-crossing a “self-soothing” gesture, meant to comfort yourself rather than to “block” others. So the next time you confront someone with a tough question and they cross their arms, don’t assume you’ve made them mad; the crossed arms might just mean they’re trying to come up with an answer. Learning to speak body language and control body language is important not only in casual interactions, but also in the workplace.

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https://www.rd.com/advice/relationships/reading-body-language/feed/ 5 The Ultimate Gift Guide for Every Zodiac Sign https://www.rd.com/advice/relationships/zodiac-gift-ideas/ Thu, 05 Dec 2019 15:00:21 +0000 https://www.rd.com/?post_type=listicle&p=300263 Even when Mercury isn’t in retrograde, buying gifts for friends and family can be difficult. A New York City-based astrologer offers guidance to help find the perfect gift for every zodiac sign.

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A gift they’re sure to love

Ancient clock Torre dell'Orologio on St Mark's Square (San Marco) in Venice. Detail with clock face and astrological Zodiac signs. Vintage dial close-up, medieval art of Italy. Astrology concept.The season of giving is upon us—but that can also mean a season of struggling to find the perfect, personalized gift to suit everyone on your Nice List. Astrologer Rebecca Gordon is here to help by suggesting the ideal token of affection that will complement every astrological trait. From active Aries to peaceful Pisces, these are the sweet gifts that will make your friends, family, and coworkers know you are thinking of them. Don’t miss these 25 unique gifts you can find on Amazon.

Note: Prices listed were accurate as of press time; pricing fluctuations may occur.

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31 Relationship Habits That You Think Are Loving, but Are Actually Dangerous https://www.rd.com/advice/relationships/dangerous-relationship-habits/ Tue, 26 Nov 2019 20:06:11 +0000 https://www.rd.com/?post_type=listicle&p=303597 Although these practices are heavily romanticized in society, they just might be poisoning your relationship. Take heed of these tips from top relationship experts.

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Making your partner your ultimate priority

couple“Making a partner your first priority before yourself is a ‘spiritual don’t’ because the secret to life is to love another as icing on an already great cake. If you dare to give your power away and make that person more important, you are out of balance in your energy field. You walk a fragile line with yourself, and if anything should happen, or they leave you, or the relationship changes course, then you are a fallen soul with no means to get up. One must love in a healthy way by always making themselves number one in self-care.” – Audrey Hope, celebrity renowned relationship expert. Here are 19 things your marriage counselor already knows about you.

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11 Signs You Can Totally Trust Your Partner https://www.rd.com/advice/relationships/trust-in-relationships/ Tue, 26 Nov 2019 16:00:56 +0000 https://www.rd.com/?post_type=slideshows&p=208423 These little indicators make it easy to know you’re in a loving, stable relationship.

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Are they trustworthy?

Portrait of smiling beautiful girl and her handsome boyfriend. Woman in casual summer jeans clothes. Happy cheerful family. Female having fun on the street background

Trust is one of the most important qualities necessary for a serious relationship—but it can also be difficult to know that you have it. How can you know that you can trust your partner, and that they trust you? Luckily, there are some telltale signs, according to relationship experts.

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How One Therapist’s View on Death Changed After She Lost Her Partner https://www.rd.com/advice/relationships/help-a-friend-grieve/ Thu, 21 Nov 2019 19:01:20 +0000 https://www.rd.com/?p=1351522 As a psychotherapist, she thought she 
knew all the tools 
for dealing with 
loss. Then her own partner died.

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On a beautiful, ordinary summer day in 2009, I watched my partner drown. Matt was strong and healthy—just three months from his 40th birthday. We had joked that he was half mountain goat, able to scale waterfalls if need be. There was no reason he should have drowned. It was random, unexpected, and it tore my world apart.

We had gone out to the river on the first sunny day after several weeks of rain. Matt went swimming while I stayed in the woods with our dog. When he called out for help, I saw him swept away by a flood-swollen current. The dog and I ran in, trying to save him, but were carried two miles downriver. Search teams found Matt’s body three hours later.

I thought I knew quite a bit about grief. After all, I’d been a psycho­therapist for nearly a decade. I had worked with hundreds of people, from those wrestling with substance addiction and patterns of homelessness to private-practice clients facing decades-old abuse, trauma, and grief.

After Matt died, I wanted to call every one of my clients and apologize for my ignorance. With all of my experience and training, if anyone could be prepared to deal with that kind of loss, it should have been me. But none of what I’d learned mattered.

And I wasn’t alone. In the first years after Matt’s death, I slowly discovered a community of grieving people. It wasn’t just loss that we had in common. We shared stories of being encouraged to “get over it,” put the past behind us, and stop talking about those we had lost. We were admonished to move on and told we needed these deaths in order to learn what was important in life.

Even those who tried to help ended up hurting. Platitudes and advice, even when said with good intentions, came across as dismissive, reducing great pain to empty one-liners. At a time when we most needed love and support, each one of us felt alone, misunderstood, judged, and dismissed.

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It’s not that the people around us meant to be cruel; they just didn’t know how to be truly helpful. Like many grieving people, we stopped talking about our pain to friends and family. It was easier to pretend every­thing was fine than to continually defend and explain our grief to those who couldn’t understand.

Our culture sees grief as a malady: a terrifying, messy emotion that needs to be cleaned up and put behind us as soon as possible. As a result, we have outdated beliefs about how long grief should last and what it should look like.

We see grief as something to overcome, something to fix, rather than something to tend or support. Even our clinicians are trained to see grief as a disorder rather than a natural response to deep loss. When the professionals don’t know how to handle grief, the rest of us can hardly be expected to respond with skill and grace.

There is another way. If we want to care for one another better, we have to rehumanize grief. We have to talk about it. We have to understand it as a natural, normal process rather than something to be shunned, rushed, or maligned. We have to start talking about the skills needed to face the reality of living a life changed entirely by loss.

I’ve been the person howling on the floor, unable to eat or sleep or leave the house for more than a few minutes at a time. I’ve been on the other side of the clinician’s couch, on the receiving end of outdated and wholly irrelevant talk of stages and the power of positive thinking. I learned firsthand why trying to talk someone out of their grief is both hurtful and entirely different from helping them live with their grief.

Many people truly want to help a friend or family member who is experiencing a severe loss. Words often fail us at times like these, leaving us stammering for the right thing to say. Some people are so afraid to say or do the wrong thing that they choose to do nothing at all. That’s certainly an option, but it’s not often a good one.

There’s no one perfect way to respond or to support someone you care about, but there are some good ground rules.

stack of casserole dishes on blue background

First, remember that you play a supporting role, not a central role, in your friend’s grief. You may believe you would do things differently if this loss had happened to you. I hope you don’t get the chance to find out. This grief belongs to your friend. Follow their lead.

You might also be tempted to make statements about the past or the future when your friend’s present life holds so much pain. But you can’t know what the future will be—it may or may not be better “later.” Omniscient platitudes aren’t helpful. Stick with the truth: This hurts. I love you. I’m here.

Keep in mind that being with someone who is in pain isn’t easy. Your friend cannot show up for their part of the relationship very well, and you will likely get hurt. Don’t take it personally, and please don’t take it out on them.

In fact, one of the best things you can do for a grieving friend is anticipate their needs. Don’t say, “Call me if there’s anything I can do,” because your friend will not call. Identifying a need, figuring out who might fill that need, and then making a phone call to ask is light-years beyond your grieving friend’s energy level, capacity, or interest. Instead, make concrete offers: “I will stop by each morning on my way to work and take the dog for a quick walk.” Then show up and do it.

Of course, the real work of grieving is not something you can do for your friend, but you can lessen the burden of everyday life. Assist in small, ordinary ways, such as refilling prescriptions, taking in the mail, or shoveling snow. These tasks are tangible evidence of love. You can also shield your friend by setting yourself up as the designated point person—the one who relays information to the outside world or organizes well-wishers.

If your friendship is close enough, you could even offer to tackle projects together. There will likely be plenty of difficult tasks that need tending to—things like choosing a casket, mortuary visits, sorting through and packing up a lifetime of belongings. Then be sure to follow through on your offers to help.

Above all, show your love. Say something. Do something. Be willing to stand beside the gaping hole that has opened in your friend’s life without flinching or turning away. Listen. Be there. Be love. Love is the only thing that lasts.

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How One Fan Became Such Good Friends with Charles Barkley That the Basketball Star Even Attended His Funeral https://www.rd.com/advice/relationships/my-pal-charles/ Wed, 20 Nov 2019 02:00:51 +0000 https://www.rd.com/?p=1349731 An NBA star, an immigrant scientist, 
and a friendship no one believed.

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still life on wood. two mugs of beer, peanuts, cocktail napkin, phone showing charles barkley in a basketball uniformWhen Charles Barkley’s mother, Charcey Glenn, passed away in June 2015, the former basketball star’s hometown of Leeds, Alabama, came to the funeral to pay respects. But there was also an unexpected guest.

Barkley’s friends couldn’t quite place him. He wasn’t a basketball player, he wasn’t a sports figure, and he wasn’t from Barkley’s hometown. Here’s what I can tell you about him: He often wore striped polo shirts tucked into khaki shorts, and he got really excited about two-for-one deals. He was a commuter. He worked as a cat-litter scientist in Muscatine, Iowa. In short, he was everyone’s suburban dad. More specifically, he was my dad.

“It was obviously a very difficult time,” Barkley told me recently regarding his mother’s death. “And the next thing I know, he shows up.

Every­body’s like, ‘Who’s the Asian dude over there?’ I just started laughing. I said, ‘That’s my boy Lin.’ They’re like, ‘How do you know him?’ I said, ‘It’s a long story.’”

The long story started four years ago. My dad, Lin Wang, knew about Barkley long before he met him. “You know, [Barkley] has a big personality,” he told me. “He’s a top-50 player in the history of the NBA. For many years, he was the number two guy, right after Michael Jordan.”

Whenever we attended dinner parties, my dad would talk about his friend Charles Barkley. The first time my dad told the story, I didn’t pretend to know who this person was. Basketball has never been my thing.

Like a good millennial, I googled Charles Barkley. He seemed pretty famous and definitely not like anyone who would be friends with my dad. But again, as a good millennial, I knew that people have very loose definitions of the word friend.

About two years ago, I asked my dad if I could see their texts. He handed me his phone. Their texts were mostly messages from my dad that ended with an excessive number of exclamation points. I told him the conversation seemed pretty one-sided and handed the phone back.

As I talked about the relationship with more and more people, I began to think that either my dad was one of the luckiest basketball fans ever or this whole thing was an elaborate joke. But no. The friendship was real.

“It was, like, one of the most random things,” Barkley recalled with a laugh.

“I was on a business trip,” my dad said, “and was walking in the hotel lobby, and I saw Charles Barkley.”

Charles Barkley poses with Lin Wang at the bar where they met.
On the night they met, Wang and Barkley spent hours just shooting the breeze.

“I was in Sacramento speaking at a charity event,” Barkley said.

“So I just went to say hi and take a picture with him,” my dad said.

“I was just sitting at the bar,” Barkley said. “And me and your dad were the only two people in there. And we just sit down and started talking.”

“He’s a super-nice guy.”

“And before we know it, we looked at each other like, ‘Yo, man, I’m hungry. Let’s go to dinner,’” Barkley said. “It turned into a two-hour dinner. And then we actually went back to the bar and just sat there and talked for another couple of hours. And the rest is history.”

My dad and Barkley saw each other again in the bar the next night. And the night after that. At the end of the third night: “Certainly, I told him I had a good time talking with him, hanging out with him,” my dad said. “He said the same thing to me, and he left his phone number. He said, ‘Whenever you’re in Atlanta, New York, or Phoenix, check in with me. If I’m in town, we’ll hang out and have a good time.’ ”

Over the next few years, whenever my dad was in those cities, he would text Barkley, and they would hang out. He even spent time on the set of Barkley’s TNT show, Inside the NBA.

“I mean, it was just a fun time,” Bark­ley said. “My [cohosts]—Shaq [Shaquille O’Neal], Ernie [Johnson], Kenny [Smith]—they enjoyed just meeting him.”

They got dinner together. “I think I had Thai basil noodle,” my dad recalled. “It was pretty good. I had it right inside the office. He likes to clean. There were several big cans of cleaning wipes right on his desk. Every time he sit down, he cleaned his desk.”

They watched basketball games.

“Iowa lost to Maryland that day,” my dad said.

I’m pretty sure they did some partying too. But that, I don’t know much about.

“Your dad is one of the happiest people I’ve ever met in my life,” Bark­ley said. “I’m not just saying that. I mean, think about it; it’s fun to be with your friends, you know? ’Cause I don’t have that many people that I want to be around, to be honest with you. You know a lot of people, but when you go spend time with your friends, it’s a whole different animal.”

Back home, my dad’s coworkers would tease him about Barkley and ask him about the story all the time. My dad didn’t mind that they didn’t believe him. He even made a slideshow of photos of him and Barkley together for our community’s Chinese New Year ­celebration—totally irrelevant to the holiday.

I asked my dad what he thought it was about him, of all people, that made him and Charles Barkley become friends.

“You know, he’d grown up in the ’70s in Alabama. His father left him and his mother when he was little. He’d grown up with grandma and mother. And the grandma and mother cleaned up houses for somebody else to make a living. Tough life for him. But he’s well-respected professionally. And that’s his story.”

My dad moved to Iowa from China in the ’90s. He felt that he and Barkley had similar experiences.

“So, to me, as an Asian in the United States, I felt as long as I do a good job, people will respect me,” my dad said.

Barkley and my dad both worked hard—so hard, they believed, that the color of their skin didn’t matter.

Phone showing texts to Barkley from Wang
Barkley gave Wang his number and told him to text whenever he was in Atlanta, New York, or Phoenix-the star’s home base.

My dad and Barkley had something else in common. In Chinese, we’d say that dad would hú shuˉo bˉa dào—that meant that sometimes he would spew rubbish. Basketball fans might say Barkley often does the same.

In June 2015, Barkley’s mother passed away. When my dad heard the news, he looked up the funeral details and hopped on a plane to Leeds.

“It ain’t easy to get to those places,” Barkley said. “I’m from a very small town.”

But my dad showed up for his friend. Afterward, he went to dinner with Barkley and his family.

“For your dad to take the time to come to the funeral meant a great deal to me,” Barkley said.

Then, in May 2016, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. He had tumors in his heart.

I took that fall off from school. My dad and I watched mobster movies together. Action movies. Kung fu movies. When the credits rolled, we’d flip to a basketball game. Just me and him, watching a lot of TV in our living room.

Days passed by. Then months. Then it was two years. My dad never told Barkley that he was sick.

“I called him and got mad at him when I found out,” Barkley said. “I was like, ‘Dude, we’re friends. You can tell me. You’re not bothering me. You know me well enough—if you were bothering me, I would tell you you were bothering me.’ ”

What Barkley didn’t know was that my dad watched him almost every night on TNT. And while he rested and healed, my dad was laughing along with Barkley. He kept my dad company.

June 2018. NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers. My dad was staying in palliative care at the hospital. He loved the Warriors. I visited and read him sports highlights.

It was a Sunday afternoon, and my dad was tired. The summer light filled his room. Then the day faded, and dusk began to enter.

After it was all over, I went through my dad’s phone and texted all his friends: Hi. This is Shirley. My dad just passed away.

The funeral was the day after the last game of the NBA Finals. My dad’s favorite team, the Golden State Warriors, had won the night before.

The funeral was set near the outskirts of Iowa City in a house by the woods. I was talking to my childhood friend when she suddenly looked stunned. I turned to look behind me.

And standing there—drenched in sweat from the Iowa summer, towering over everyone in the room at six feet six inches tall—was Charles Barkley.

Everyone watched, astonished, as this man—this worldwide celebrity—walked down the aisle, looked at us, and sighed.

Photo of Barkley at Wang's funeral.
Barkley flew all the way to Iowa City to pay his respects at Wang’s funeral.

Later, after it all, I called him up and asked, “Why my dad? What did you even have to talk about?”

“Well, first of all, clearly, he was a fan,” Barkley said. “But I think the main thing we talked about was you and your brother.”

“What did he say?” I asked.

“It was more that he was proud,” Bark­ley said. “Because I’ve got a daughter too. I’m just really, really proud of her, because I think she’s a good person. And your dad was so proud of you and your brother. Listen: As an adult—and you’re too young to understand this now—all you want is your kids to be happy. That’s what you work for. To give your kids everything in life.”

The more we talked, the more I realized just how close he and my dad were. Barkley knew so much about me and my life, even though this was the first time he and I had ever talked.

“It gives me great memories and great joy to know that I was a friend of his,” Barkley said. “Just hearing about him at the funeral—what he had accomplished and what he was trying to help other people accomplish … I wished he’d bragged more about himself.”

“So let me get this straight: You were impressed by him?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Barkley said.

At the funeral, people shared memories of my dad and made me realize that he was not just a cat-litter chemist but an industry-changing scientist with a PhD. And not just an immigrant, but someone who reached out to Chinese newcomers. And not just a thoughtful guy, but someone people trusted for advice. I realized that, even after he passed away, I would continue to learn things about my dad.

Before Barkley and I hung up, he had one more thing to say: “Just keep doing you. It’s your time now. That’s the most important thing. Your dad prepared you to take care of yourself. I was blessed to know him and to know you too.”

I know how much his friendship with Barkley meant to my dad. It was not just a relationship with a celebrity. It shed light on the possibilities of this world. A world where someone like him could just say something cool, something charming, and befriend someone like Charles Barkley.

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Here’s What Princess Diana Really Thought When She First Met Prince Charles https://www.rd.com/advice/relationships/what-diana-first-thought-of-charles/ Mon, 11 Nov 2019 19:30:54 +0000 https://www.rd.com/?p=799216 Despite their doomed marriage, there were butterflies in the beginning.

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We all know the story: After they married in 1981, Prince Charles and Princess Diana had anything but a fairy tale romance. Charles was still in love with his ex, Camilla Parker Bowles, whom he’d met in 1970, and Diana could sense the future king’s ambivalence toward their marriage. Here’s why Charles didn’t marry Camilla in the first place.

But before there was drama, there must have been love—right? Even with the promise of a plush royal lifestyle, it’s impossible anyone would set themselves up for a lifetime of marital despair. Well, the answer to that isn’t so clear.

Diana and Charles first met in November 1977 at Althorp, the Spencer family’s ancestral home, when Charles visited for a grouse hunt. After the meeting, the 16-year-old Diana told friends that one day she was going to marry Prince Charles, writes Tina Brown in her book The Diana Chronicles. When Diana’s friends asked how could be so sure, she responded, “He’s the one man on the planet who is not allowed to divorce me.” Later on, she recalled to author Andrew Morton that her first impression of Charles was, “God what a sad man.”

The relationship didn’t heat up until Diana was 18-and-a-half. “I was asked to stay with some friends in Sussex and they said, ‘Oh, the Prince of Wales is staying,’ and I thought I hadn’t seen him in ages,” she told her speech coach on a tape that was later used for the Channel 4 documentary Diana: In Her Own Words. “He’d just broken up with his girlfriend and his friend Mountbatten had just been killed. I said it would be nice to see him. I was so unimpressed. I sat there and this man walked in and I thought, well, I am quite impressed this time round. I was different.”

The prince was smitten too. “He was all over me,” she said on the tapes. ”We were talking about Mountbatten and his girlfriend and I said, ‘You must be so lonely.’ I said, ‘It’s pathetic watching you walking up the aisle with Mountbatten’s coffin in front, ghastly, you need someone beside you.’ Whereupon he leapt upon me and started kissing me and I thought, urgh, this is not what people do. And he was all over me for the rest of the evening, following me around like a puppy.”

Still, dating the prince was an uphill battle. “He wasn’t consistent with his courting abilities,” she said. “He’d ring me every day for a week, then wouldn’t speak to me for three weeks. Very odd. I thought, ‘Fine. Well, he knows where I am if he wants me.’ The thrill when he used to ring up was so immense and intense. It would drive the other three girls in my flat crazy.”

The couple famously met each other just 12 times before becoming engaged. Unfortunately, those courtship butterflies were short lived. “We had this ghastly interview the day we announced our engagement,” she said. “And this ridiculous [news] man said, ‘Are you in love?’ “I thought, what a thick question. So I said, ‘Yes, of course, we are,’ and Charles turned round and said, ‘Whatever love means.’ And that threw me completely. I thought, what a strange answer. It traumatized me.” This is the real reason why Charles proposed when he wasn’t in love.

The rest, as they say, is history. The couple stuck it out for 11 years together, before separating in 1992 and divorcing in 1996. Diana died in a car crash in 1997. For more, learn the 9 secrets about Princess Diana no one knew until after her death.

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16 Things Smart People Do for End of Life Planning https://www.rd.com/advice/relationships/how-prepare-for-death/ Fri, 08 Nov 2019 21:00:59 +0000 https://www.rd.com/?post_type=slideshows&p=237972 You can leave your family scrambling to make arrangements—or calmly executing your wishes.

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They want family to avoid the hallway huddle

An elderly couple walks in the park with a male assistant or adult grandson. Caring for the elderly, volunteering

You could learn a lot by asking a healthcare worker about the problems families run into when a loved one dies. “Time and again, hospice professionals see families in the hallway of the emergency room or ICU trying to figure out what Mom or Dad might have wanted, and that’s a very tough time to think these things through,” says Jon Radulovic, vice president of communications for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO). “People often put more thought into preparing for the family vacation—the transportation, the timing, the meals—than planning for the end-of-life experience we’ll all have.” Here’s a fascinating look at how doctors choose to die.

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14 Things Polite People Always Say https://www.rd.com/advice/relationships/things-polite-people-always-say/ Thu, 31 Oct 2019 15:07:54 +0000 https://www.rd.com/?p=1062776 A few simple phrases will help you turn on the charm, navigate awkward moments, and defuse tension.

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“Hello”

“Take the time to say ‘hello,’ especially if you’re in an environment where you regularly see the same people,” says Jacqueline Whitmore, etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach. She explains that greeting a person makes you stand out and make a positive, lasting impact. “And even if you’re seeing an unfamiliar face, that person could be a member of the board of directors, a major donor, or someone who’s important to someone in your family, and you’ve made a good impression that will stay with them.”

“Please”

According to The Emily Post Institute, “please” is one of the magic words that should be used on a daily basis. Simply saying “please” changes a command into a request and therefore shows respect and regard for the person you’re speaking to. Adding one simple word can change the entire tone of the conversation. Also find out the conversation starters that make you instantly interesting.

“Thank you”

“Whether someone is going out of their way to do something they didn’t have to, like hold a door for you, or…performing a routine, expected task like making your coffee, saying ‘thank you’ is a small gesture that makes a person feel appreciated,” Whitmore says. Stopping for a moment to acknowledge another person and give them your attention is an act of kindness that speaks volumes about you.

“You’re welcome”

After being thanked, the polite response is “you’re welcome” or possibly “my pleasure”—but saying “no problem” sends the wrong message. The reason? Replying to an expression of gratitude with “no problem” is dismissive—you’re simply saying that the gesture was easy for you, explains Candace Smith, etiquette expert. A slight shift in your response sends a much more positive message. Following these subtle etiquette rules also makes a big impact.

“Excuse me”

When you enter someone’s personal space—whether intentionally or accidentally—you should call attention to it to ask permission or offer an apology by way of saying “excuse me.” Smith also explains that “excuse me” is a helpful way to bring a conversation back into “social equilibrium” and serves as a way to get someone’s attention, provide an exit, or serve as a polite transition.

The other person’s name

Whether you’re addressing a customer service representative or a CEO, using a person’s name shows courtesy and respect. According to The Washington Post, when someone remembers our name we feel appreciated, important, and positive about our interaction. The key is to stick to the name a person uses when they introduce themselves. Don’t automatically shorten Michael to Mike, for example, unless you’re asked to do so.

“I’m happy to see you”

This only works if the sentiment is authentic, but according to Inc. Magazine, this is the most attractive sentiment you can express to another human being. The next time someone asks how you are, reply that you’re happy to see them. Hearing that their presence is causing joy for you is the most positive way to start off an interaction.

women hug

“That’s so kind of you”

“Accepting a compliment can be challenging for people,” says Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., an etiquette expert and founder of Access to Culture. “Brushing it off can indicate that you don’t value what was being complimented.” She suggests acknowledging words of praise with “that’s so kind of you.” The phrase shows gratitude and still sounds humble. Try giving some of these little compliments that will make everyone smile.

Offering condolences

“Condolences are very important, but make people uncomfortable,” Whitmore says. She suggests saying something simple, such as “I’m so sorry for your loss.” You don’t have to offer words of sympathy verbally—it’s fine to send a handwritten note, email, gift, or donation to acknowledge a loss. The important thing is to let the person know you care, Whitmore stresses.

“Can you share your thoughts on…”

One of the qualities of a polite person is listening to the opinions of others. Seeking another’s thoughts on a topic shows their insights matter. And, according to Inc. Magazine, this is an invitation that makes the person experience a bit more self-worth, which generates positive feelings toward you—a win-win. This only works if you are engaged in the conversation and obviously interested in the response.

“Is there anything I can do to help?”

Ignoring a person who’s struggling—to carry a package or to manage a large workload—shows a lack of empathy. When you stop and offer your assistance, the gesture goes beyond politeness and ventures into kindness. According to a study in the Journal of Social Psychology, participants who performed acts of kindness reported higher life satisfaction. So when you volunteer to step in and lighten someone’s load, literally or figuratively, you’re benefitting both of you. Here are other etiquette rules you should always follow at work.

“Perhaps”

Think of using “perhaps” as a way of saying “let’s agree to disagree.” According to the Macmillan Dictionary, “perhaps” is used as a polite reply to someone when you do not completely agree with what they have said. The word can be used to defuse a potential disagreement without telling someone they’re wrong and avoid a confrontation. Try this advice for navigating other awkward moments with manners.

“I can (or cannot) attend your event”

According to Anna Post of The Emily Post Institute, it is essential to always respond to an invitation. She writes in her blog, “Failure to RSVP”—(short for the French répondez s’il vous plaît, or “please reply”)— “is one of the biggest etiquette complaints I hear about and the one that is often accompanied by the most frustration.” You should always reply in a timely fashion, especially if you cannot attend an event.

“I’ve noticed how good you are at…”

The most polite people don’t monopolize conversations—they actually find ways to actively incorporate others into the fold. One way to politely spark a conversation is to point out another’s strength and ask them to talk about it. Focusing on what they’re good at puts them in a positive light, and, according to Inc. Magazine, that reflects kindly on you. Here are more daily habits of polite people that everyone should try.

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24 Stories About the Touching Kindness of Strangers That’ll Make You Tear Up https://www.rd.com/true-stories/inspiring/kindness-strangers/ Tue, 29 Oct 2019 15:00:22 +0000 https://www.rd.com/prepost/134186/?post_type=post We asked readers for firsthand accounts of compassion. Here are the true tales that touched your lives—and our hearts.

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The Man at the Market

When the supermarket clerk tallied up my groceries, I was $ 12 over what I had on me. I began to remove items from the bags, when another shopper handed me a $ 20 bill. “Please don’t put yourself out,” I told him. “Let me tell you a story,” he said. “My mother is in the hospital with cancer. I visit her every day and bring her flowers. I went this morning, and she got mad at me for spending my money on more flowers. She demanded that I do something else with that money. So, here, please accept this. It is my mother’s flowers.” – Leslie Wagner, Peel, Arkansas. Here are 30 more acts of kindness you can do in two minutes or less.

Jim and the Job

My neighbor, Jim, had trouble deciding if he wanted to retire from the construction field, until he ran into a younger man he’d worked with previously. The young man had a wife and three children and was finding it difficult to make ends meet, since he hadn’t worked in some time. The next morning, Jim went to the union office and submitted his retirement paperwork. As for his replacement, he gave them the name of the young man. That was six years ago, and that young husband and father has been employed ever since. – Miranda MacLean, Brutus, Michigan. 

A Family’s Food Angel

While going through a divorce, my mother fretted over her new worries: no income, the same bills, and no way to afford groceries. It was around this time that she started finding boxes of food outside our door every morning. This went on for months, until she was able to land a job. We never did find out who it was who left the groceries for us, but they truly saved our lives. – Jamie Boleyn, Emmett, Idaho. These 12 heartwarming stories will restore your faith in humanity.

Color Me Amazed

I forgot about the rules on liquids in carry-on luggage, so when I hit security at the airport, I had to give up all my painting supplies. When I returned a week later, an attendant was at the baggage area with my paints. Not only had he kept them for me, but he’d looked up my return date and time in order to meet me.  – Marilyn Kinsella, Canmore, Canada

october 2015 kindness of strangers

Seven Miles For Me

Leaving a store, I returned to my car only to find that I’d locked my keys and cell phone inside. A teenager riding his bike saw me kick a tire and say a few choice words. “What’s wrong?” he asked. I explained my situation. “But even if I could call my wife,” I said, “she can’t bring me her car key, since this is our only car.” He handed me his cell phone. “Call your wife and tell her I’m coming to get her key.” “That’s seven miles round trip.” “Don’t worry about it.” An hour later, he returned with the key. I offered him some money, but he refused. “Let’s just say I needed the exercise,” he said. Then, like a cowboy in the movies, he rode off into the sunset. – Clarence W. Stephens, Nicholasville, Kentucky. Take a look at these incredible photos of heartwarming moments.

The Little Lift

One evening, I left a restaurant just ahead of a woman assisting her elderly mom. I approached the curb and paused to see if my arthritic knees could climb it. To my right appeared an arm to assist. It was that of the elderly mom. My heart was so touched. – Donna Moerie, Goldsboro, North Carolina

Bounty For a Navy Wife

I was balancing caring for a toddler and working a full-time job, all while my Navy husband was on extended duty overseas. One evening, the doorbell rang. It was my neighbor, a retired chief petty officer, holding a breadboard loaded with a freshly cooked chicken and vegetable stew. “I’ve noticed you’re getting a little skinny,” he said. It was the best meal I’d had in months. – Patricia Fordney, Corvallis, Oregon. Here are 10 life-changing acts of kindness you can do right now.

My Granddaughter’s Dress

I saw a dress in a consignment shop that I knew my granddaughter would love. But money was tight, so I asked the store owner if she could hold it for me. “May I buy the dress for you?” asked another customer. “Thank you, but I can’t accept such a gracious gift,” I said. Then she told me why it was so important for her to help me. She’d been homeless for three years, she said, and had it not been for the kindness of strangers, she would not have been able to survive. “I’m no longer homeless, and my situation has improved,” she said. “I promised myself that I would repay the kindness so many had shown me.” She paid for the dress, and the only payment she would accept in return was a heartfelt hug. – Stacy Lee, Columbia, Maryland

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White Shoulders

A woman at our yard sale wore a perfume that smelled heavenly and familiar. “What are you wearing?” I asked. “White Shoulders,” she said. Suddenly, I was bowled over by a flood of memories. White Shoulders was the one gift I could count on at Christmas from my late mother. We chatted awhile, and she bought some things and left. A few hours later, she returned holding a new bottle of White Shoulders. I don’t recall which one of us started crying first. – Media Stooksbury, Powell, Tennessee. Try these effortless ways to be nicer to people.

Breaking Bread

Last December, before work, I stopped at a deli and ordered an everything bagel with cream cheese. It was toasty warm, and I couldn’t wait to dig in. But as I left the store, I noticed an older indigent gentleman sitting at the bus stop. Knowing it would probably be his only warm meal of the day, I gave him the bagel. But all was not lost for me. Another customer from the deli offered me half of her bagel. I was so delighted because I realized that in one way or another, we are all looked after. – Liliana Figueroa, Phoenix, Arizona

“I Can Still Help”

As I walked through the parking lot, all I could think about was the dire diagnosis I had handed my patient Jimmy: pancreatic cancer. Just then, I noticed an elderly gentleman handing tools to someone working under his stalled car. That someone was Jimmy. “Jimmy, what are you doing?” I yelled out. Jimmy dusted off his pants. “My cancer didn’t tell me not to help others, Doc,” he said, before waving at the old man to start the car. The engine roared to life. The old man thanked Jimmy and drove off. Then Jimmy got into his car and took off as well. Take-home message: Kindness has no limits and no restrictions. –Mohammed Basha, Gainesville, Florida.  Start giving these 10 little compliments to people every day.

Top Note

When my husband died unexpectedly, a coworker took me under her wing. Every week for an entire year, she would send me a card saying “Just Thinking of You” or “Hang in There.” She saved my life. – Jerilynn Collette, Burnsville, Minnesota

He Kept an Eye on Me

Driving home in a blizzard, I noticed a vehicle trailing close behind me. Suddenly, my tire blew! I pulled off the road, and so did the other car. A man jumped out from behind the wheel and without hesitation changed the flat. “I was going to get off two miles back,” he said. “But I didn’t think that tire looked good.” –Marilyn Attebery, Spokane Valley, Washington. Being kind to strangers is great, but don’t forget these ways to be nicer to yourself.

My Commander’s Call

It was one of my first missions on a gunship during the Vietnam War. I was scanning for enemy fire when I spotted a bright object that looked as if it were coming straight at us. “Missile! Missile!” I shouted into my interphone. The pilot jerked the airplane as hard as he could, dumping guys from one side of the craft to the next. Well, turns out the “missile” was a flare we had just dropped. Suffice it to say, the guys weren’t pleased. Back at the base, my commander put an arm around my shoulder. “Sergeant Hunter,” he said, “you keep calling them like you see them. Better safe than sorry.” That kind act gave me the confidence to be one of the top gunners in my squadron. – Douglas Hunter, Fort Walton Beach, Florida

21 Apples From Max

When my grandson Max told his mother, Andrea, to donate any check she would give him for his 21st birthday, Andrea got an idea. She handed Max’s brother Charlie a video camera. Then she took out 21 $ 10 bills from the bank and bought 21 apples at the supermarket. When they spotted a homeless man, Andrea told him, “Today is my son Max’s 21st birthday, and he asked me to give a gift to someone to help him celebrate.” She handed the man a $ 10 bill and an apple. The man smiled into the camera and announced, “Happy birthday, Max!” Soon, they passed out their booty to men and women waiting in line at a soup kitchen. In a unified chorus, they wished Max, “Happy birthday!” At a pizza parlor, Andrea left $ 50 and told the owners to feed the hungry. “Happy birthday, Max!” they shouted. With one last $ 10 bill and apple, they stopped at Andrea’s sister’s office. Unable to contain her laughter or her tears, she bellowed into the camera, “Happy birthday, Max!” –Dr. Donald Stoltz, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Don’t miss these 21 acts of kindness that changed these people’s lives.

How Did She Know?

I was driving cross-country to start a new job. What began as a fun adventure turned into a nightmare when I realized I had run through most of my money and still had a ways to go. I pulled over and let the tears flow. That’s when I noticed the unopened farewell card my neighbor had shoved in my hand as I left. I pulled the card out of the envelope, and $ 100 dropped out—just enough to get me through the remainder of my trip. Later, I asked my neighbor why she had enclosed the money. She said, “I had a feeling it would help.” – Nadine Chandler, Winthrop, Massachusetts

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Photograph by Yasu+Junko; Prop Stylist: Sarah Guido-Laakso for Halley Resources

Raised Right

Children were playing at the recreation area of an IKEA store when my five-year-old granddaughter motioned for a small boy to stop. She knelt down before him and retied his flopping shoelaces—she had only just learned to tie her own. No words were spoken, but after she finished, both smiled shyly, then turned to race off in different directions. – Sheela Mayes, Olla, Louisiana. Take a look at these 8 acts of kindness that turned into good karma.

Blanket Statement

When I was seven, my family drove to the Grand Canyon. At one point, my favorite blanket flew out the window and was gone. I was devastated. Soon after, we stopped at a service station. Moping, I found a bench and was about to eat my sandwich when a biker gang pulled into the station. “Is that your blue Ford?” a huge, frightening man with a gray-and-black beard asked. Mom nodded reticently. The man pulled my blanket from his jacket pocket and handed it to her. He then returned to his motorcycle. I repaid him the only way I knew how: I ran up to him and gave him my sandwich.
Zena Hamilton, United Kingdom

Just Driving Through

When my friend and I were injured in a car accident, a family from out of state stopped to help. Seeing we were hurt, they drove us to the hospital and stayed there until we were released. They then took us home, got us food, and made sure we were settled in. Amazingly, they interrupted their vacation to help us. –Cindy Earls, Ada, Oklahoma. Check out this story of how this generous man let a stranger borrow his car.

Butterflies of Support

I was four months pregnant with our first child when our baby’s heart stopped beating. I was devastated. As the days went on, I was nervous about returning to work. I’m a middle school teacher and didn’t know how I could face kids. This past May, after four weeks of recovering, I walked into my empty classroom and turned on the lights. Glued to the wall were a hundred colored paper butterflies, each with a handwritten message on it from current and past students. All of them had encouraging messages: “Keep moving forward,” “Don’t give up on God,” and “Know that we love you.” It was exactly what I needed.
Jennifer Garcia-Esquivel, San Benito, Texas

Twice as Nice

Two firefighters were waiting in line at a fast-food restaurant when the siren sounded on their fire truck parked outside. As they turned to leave, a couple who had just received their order handed their food to the firefighters. The couple then got back in line to reorder. Doubling down on their selfless act, the manager refused to take their money. –JoAnn Sanderson, Brandon, Florida. These are the nicest places in America, according to our readers.

Designated Driver

I’d pulled over onto the side of a New Mexico road and was suffering a panic attack when a minivan full of kids pulled over. A woman got out and asked if I was OK. “No,” I said. Then I laid out what had happened: I was delivering books for a publishing company. My next stop was way, way up this long and winding and, to me, very treacherous road. I couldn’t do it. “I’ll deliver the books for you,” she said. She was a local, and the roads were nothing for her. I took her up on the offer and never forgot the simple kindness of a stranger. – Doreen Frick, Ord, Nebraska

A Christmas Story

In January 2006, a fire destroyed a family’s home. In that fire were all the belongings of a six-year-old boy, including his Christmas presents. A classmate from his school who had a birthday around then asked her parents if she could give all her gifts to the boy. That act of kindness will forever warm my heart because the boy is my grandson.  – Donna Kachnowski, Lebanon, Connecticut. Christmas stories are the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit.

She Gave Me Direction

As I left a party, I got on the wrong freeway and was immediately lost. I pulled over to the shoulder and called my roadside-assistance provider. She tried to connect me to the California Highway Patrol, but that call never went through. Hearing the panic in my voice, she came up with a plan B: “You’re near this office,” she said. “I’m about to go off shift. Stay put, and I’ll find you.” Ten minutes later, she rolled up. She guided me not only to the right freeway but all the way to the correct freeway exit. And then, with a wave goodbye, she drove back into the night. – Michelle Arnold, Santee, California. Next, check out these 50 random acts of kindness that don’t cost a cent.

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Here’s How a 78-Year-Old Gambler Brought One Woman Humanity https://www.rd.com/advice/relationships/betting-on-humanity/ Tue, 15 Oct 2019 20:01:34 +0000 https://www.rd.com/?p=1303248 An unlikely friendship teaches one woman the importance of taking a chance on others.

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illustration gambling

Our families lived more than 450 miles away, so a few weeks before Thanksgiving one year, my then-husband and I decided to invite a guest over for the holiday. I called a senior center in the Dallas area and they suggested Ilse, a woman I imagined would be quiet, soft-spoken, serene. I was wrong.

Ilse was a stubborn 78-year-old force of nature. She enjoyed complimentary gambling junkets to Las ­Vegas and kept a local bookie on speed dial. She favored sequined T‑shirts; her tiny wirehaired mutt, named ­Speckles; and spending time at the senior ­center. Describing this opinionated, four-foot-four woman as a fire­cracker would be like referring to the Olympic torch as a disposable lighter.

On Thanksgiving, within minutes of arriving, Ilse plopped her oversized purse on the kitchen counter and, with a wide, denture-filled smile, welcomed the glass of wine my husband offered. By the end of the evening, we felt as if this quirky septuagenarian were an old friend. Two weeks later, I invited her to lunch.

The more time I spent with Ilse, the more she became like a surrogate grandma, albeit a saucy one. She wasn’t afraid to share her opinion with others or to ask me when I was finally going to have children. “You’re not getting any younger,” she’d say.

I soon became her personal Uber driver (minus the fee), and I noticed that the more favors I agreed to do, the more she asked of me. Six months after we met, desperate for backup, I called her only child, Ralph. He claimed he didn’t have time to help. I questioned his “I’m too busy” excuse, but I kept my thoughts to myself.

A few months later, Ralph passed away. After the funeral, I realized Ilse was too distraught to be left alone and helped her hire a caregiver. Having known her for two years, I felt responsible for her. She was like family to me, and I was the only one left in her tribe.

Each time I stopped by her apartment, Ilse seemed more disconnected than the time before. Late one afternoon, she called from the emergency room to tell me she had tripped over her monstrous coffee table. Using the spare key she’d insisted I make months before, I searched her apartment for other trip hazards. The table had to go.

The next morning, Ilse called to ask about her table. She was angry and told me how upset she was that I had given away a family heirloom. Then she hung up on me.

When Ilse called that evening to apologize, I told my husband to say I wasn’t home. I was still angry and hurt.

The following day, I returned her call but was unable to understand what she was saying. I drove her to the emergency room, where the doctor confirmed she had suffered a mild stroke. During the next few days, I dropped by her apartment, but she was no longer the vibrant, obstinate Ilse I knew. At the end of the week, I received an early-morning call from her caregiver. “Please come over now,” the woman said, her voice ­matter-of-fact. “She’s passed away.”

When I arrived, I saw Ilse lying on her bed, motionless, her eyes closed. I sat on the edge of the bed and held her frail hand, too shocked to cry.

The morning after Ilse’s death, I pulled her will out of my file cabinet. Ilse had insisted I take a copy of it a year earlier. I read through it and stopped when I saw my name. She had left me $ 50,000. I didn’t remember her saying anything about her bequest. If she had, I would have insisted she donate the money to charity or give it to a friend she had known longer.

I knew I couldn’t spend what she had left me on myself. Ilse was a friend I’d helped out of loyalty and respect, not with the expectation of being paid.

Her attorney sent me a check, and I opened an investment account in her honor. Over the next 20 years, Ilse’s gift grew and gave me the opportunity to disperse funds in her name to a cause she cared about deeply: children.

Various families and charities benefited from her donations. Some families received funds to send their grade-schoolers to summer camp. Through the local food bank’s “Food 4 Kids” program, her donation provided children who relied on daily school meals with weekend backpacks filled with food to take home with them on Fridays.

A few days before my unconventional friend died, I heard her on the phone asking about “the odds.” I don’t know whether her last bet paid off—I didn’t ask her bookie when I met her at Ilse’s funeral. Yet the gamble I’d taken years before when I placed a call to the senior center and met Ilse had definitely made my life richer. I took a chance on humanity, and Ilse’s friendship was the jackpot.

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9 Thanksgiving Etiquette Tips for Hosts, and 8 for Guests https://www.rd.com/culture/thanksgiving-etiquette-tips/ Mon, 14 Oct 2019 18:40:35 +0000 https://www.rd.com/?post_type=slideshows&p=227283 Whether you’re hosting or visiting this Thanksgiving, you’ll want to make sure you follow good etiquette to keep the holiday fun and stress-free.

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Hosts: Ask about dietary restrictions

Before you plan your Thanksgiving menu, check if there are any foods your guests can’t eat so you don’t leave anyone hungry. That said, if you’re a guest with an allergy or other food restriction and your hosts haven’t asked, give a polite reminder, and offer to bring a shareable dish that meets your needs, says Diane Gottsman, national etiquette expert and owner of The Protocol School of Texas. “Even family members have to be reminded if you don’t see them often,” she says. “The host has to be aware, and the guest needs to make them aware, especially if it’s a life and death situation.” Here’s what hosts should do 30 minutes before guests arrive.

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15 Things You Should Never Discuss at Thanksgiving Dinner https://www.rd.com/advice/relationships/things-never-discuss-thanksgiving-dinner/ Mon, 14 Oct 2019 18:12:20 +0000 https://www.rd.com/?post_type=listicle&p=307255 Do you really want to be the person who causes the Awkward Family Silence?

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Your fight with your cousin’s boyfriend

conversingFamily gossip is so tempting to share, especially when you have everyone gathered together. Resist the temptation, says Marni Amsellem, Ph.D, a licensed psychologist practicing in Connecticut and New York. Causing drama will get you attention but in all the wrong ways. Instead of focusing on whomever you’re talking about, the rest of the family will remember your bad behavior instead. “If there is something that you need to say to a relative about something that displeases you, save it for another time,” she says. “Otherwise this will be a dinner that the rest of the family references even decades from now—as in ‘Remember that Thanksgiving when Sheila told cousin Lucy that she thinks her boyfriend is a cheating scumbag and she’s an idiot to stay with him?’” And definitely, don’t bring up personal arguments between you and your partner as what you fight about may say more about your relationship than you meant to reveal. Discuss these 50 things to be grateful for on Thanksgiving instead.

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7 Pieces of Advice to Take from Your Grandparents and 5 to Forget https://www.rd.com/advice/relationships/grandparent-advice-take-forget/ Tue, 08 Oct 2019 15:23:37 +0000 https://www.rd.com/?p=1291053 Your grandparents are very right about some things…and very wrong about others.

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Many people relish advice from their grandparents, and for good reason. After all, older relatives only want the best for you, and they’ve likely garnered some pearls of wisdom over the years. That said, not all of their advice is golden. Sometimes it doesn’t keep up with the times or it’s simply bad advice. How can you tell the difference? We talked to the experts to discuss the most common grandparent-given advice about life, money, and relationships, and sussed out which tips you should follow—and which you should ignore.

Advice to keep: Laugh…and then laugh some more

Laughter is the best medicine for stress and pain. It can quickly improve your mood, as well as increase intimacy, happiness, and understanding, helping you bond with others. And a paper from University of Kansas professor Jeffrey Hall gives data-backed validity to something else that your grandparents probably mentioned: Couples who laugh together, stay together. “In my opinion, the purpose of life is having fun,” says Mike Goldstein, founder and lead dating coach at EZ Dating Coach. “If you can find time to do that with your partner, you’re headed in the right direction.”

And that advice shouldn’t stop at romantic relationships. Incorporate laughter whenever possible in your life, trying to see the humor even in difficult situations. It can make the difference between a good day and a bad day for you—and for those around you. If you need some inspiration, check out these love and marriage cartoons that are hilariously accurate.

Advice to keep: Don’t burn bridges

This world is smaller than you think. That’s why you should always try to maintain good—or at least civil—relationships with people from all parts of your life, whether you like them or not. You never know when you’ll encounter them again, socially or professionally. Plus, harboring grudges can take a toll on you. “In our hyper-connected world, our degree of separation has been reduced to about 1.5 degrees,” says Paul Hokemeyer, PhD, a clinical and consulting psychotherapist and the author of Fragile Power: Why Having Everything Is Never Enough. “Regardless of the degrees of separation, maintaining dignity in our relationships is important because it’s the right thing to do. In the long run, it just feels better. Cultivating compassion for and understanding other people, especially those we get cross with, makes for a happier and healthier life.”

Advice to keep: Don’t marry for money

Whether your grandparents had a happy marriage or an unhappy one, they likely know a thing or two about love and money. They’ve seen what can happen when financial situations change and when relationships get rocky for any number of reasons. Money doesn’t necessarily last, and it certainly won’t comfort you in trying times. But if you truly love being with the person you’ve chosen to spend your life with, you’ll be happier on a daily basis as well as internally rich—the right kind of wealthy. “We’ve been acculturated to believe that money buys happiness, but it doesn’t,” says Hokemeyer. “What it buys is obligations, duties, and heavy responsibilities. These are the opposite of what we need to be fulfilled and happy in our romantic relationships. In our love lives, we need to be free to be our authentic selves and vulnerable in our fundamental truths.” These are 10 more things every newlywed couple should know.

Advice to keep: Save money for rainy days

All grandparents seem to preach this adage. Still, many Americans don’t prepare for a potential financial downturn. A study by Bankrate found that more than a quarter of consumers don’t have an emergency cash reserve. And while one in four do have some money set aside for worst-case scenarios, that money wouldn’t even cover three months of living expenses.

It may seem impossible to squirrel away even a little bit of money, but you really do need to figure out a plan. After all, you never know when your roof will leak, your car will break down, or your company will downsize. “Though life is unpredictable, you can predict that there will be times that something unexpected will happen,” says Marni Amsellem, PhD, a licensed psychologist who practices in Connecticut and New York. “Having access to a safety net or a backup plan, or having a support network in place that can rise up should you need them, is some great advice. While we can certainly live in the moment, anticipating needs in some form will be time and energy well-spent.”

Advice to keep: Enjoy your kids because time flies

You may lose your mind if your toddler has yet another temper tantrum. And you just can’t argue with your teenage daughter again about what she’s wearing. But as hard as it might be, don’t wish these points in time away, and try to see the good moments that are also there, even when things are difficult. Why? Because that toddler will soon be off to kindergarten, and that teen will be out of the house for good. They’ll have kids of their own in the blink of an eye. Your grandparents know this all too well.

Being present enough to truly enjoy your kids can be extra tricky when life is pulling you in a million different directions. But—as your grandparents realize now—the time you spend with them is incredibly important, as is cultivating the right relationship. “If the balance of career and quality time is the issue, remember that your connection with your kids often means a lot more than whether you can buy them the newest gadget,” says Lynn Saladino, PsyD, a clinical psychologist who practices in New York City. “It’s often the moments (or lack thereof) that will make the biggest impression. It can be tempting to say you’ll spend time with them after the next project, promotion, or work trip. But be careful not to delay too long or you risk missing some of the most important years of their life.” And no matter how hard things might seem, make sure you never say these worst things you can say to your kids.

Advice to keep: Make sure your partner feels needed

“No one wants to feel disposable in your presence, as if you’d be no better or worse off without them,” says Amy Spencer, author of Meeting Your Half-Orange. “We enjoy feeling necessary, useful, and needed. And that is rooted in basic human behavior. We want to feel significant and that we have purpose beyond ourselves.”

One study even found that having a sense of purpose actually helped people live longer. “Giving your partner the opportunity to help you is healthy for them and it increases your bond,” Spencer explains. “Even if you don’t ‘need’ your partner’s help, you’d surely like it now and then.” To do this, choose an area that your partner feels uniquely trained or capable in. For example, ask a strong person to help carry something heavy, or ask someone who is good with emotional insight how to approach a problem with a friend. “Lean on them so they feel necessary in your presence,” Spencer says. What else do happy couples do? They engage in these 11 healthy relationship habits every day.

Advice to keep: Don’t air your dirty laundry in public

While our grandparents weren’t talking about Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram when they doled out this very wise advice, we can and should apply it to this aspect of our lives. Why? Because people often forget just how public social media is. It’s not a secret space or a diary, and you shouldn’t be sharing your latest disagreement with your significant other there. Friends, family, and random Facebook acquaintances don’t have to be privy to everything about your life or relationship, especially arguments. Otherwise, it makes it harder to forgive and forget, and it can also create hurt feelings since partners may be embarrassed by this oversharing.

Feelings can even be hurt inadvertently. Of course you shouldn’t reveal something important that your partner told you in confidence, but you also shouldn’t screenshot and post a text that sounds seductive. “A relationship is a bond,” says Spencer. “And to keep that bond strong, you need to hold some things special, like a vault for which only you two hold the key. Think twice before you give away everything in your relationship like it’s a commodity. It may help your relationship to keep some special secrets in the vault for just the two of you.” Keeping some things to yourself is definitely one of the etiquette rules we never should have abandoned.

Advice to forget: The woman is always right

Yes, it can be tough to say, “I was wrong.” But in a relationship, it has to be done sometimes. And even better advice: Instead of figuring out who is right, figure out how to make things work. “When fighting about small things with your significant other, try to let them go,” says Bonnie Winston, celebrity matchmaker and relationship expert. “Of course, the issues that mean the most and are important to you can be argued over, but in a mature way.”

How do you do that? By taking the time to come up with exactly what you want to say—in the best, calmest, and most productive manner possible. “Candidates in a debate don’t raise their voices and spew out unrehearsed words,” says Winston. “The ones who are the most effective have a well-thought-out viewpoint.” Focus on the root of what’s really causing conflict, and don’t bring up other issues or go off on a tangent; otherwise, hurt and resentment can bubble to the surface, causing a desire for separation.

Advice to forget: Don’t have screaming fights or you’ll end up divorced

“Volatiles” have been flagged by relationship experts and married couple John and Julie Gottman, founders of the Gottman Institute, as one of three types of “happy-stable” relationships. The average happy volatile couple has at least a five-to-one positive-to-negative ratio during conflict—meaning they have five times more positive interactions than negative ones—which John Gottman has found to be the marker of a healthy relationship. In contrast, couples who end up headed for divorce court have a ratio of 0.8 to one. Though happy volatile couples can have intense fights, they balance arguments with kindness and attentiveness. So while there is a kernel of truth to this, it really comes down to the entire tone of a marriage.

Advice to forget: Your partner isn’t a mind reader

Open communication is an essential tool for a happy relationship—our grandparents are right about that. But the Gottmans have found that successful couples also understand each other’s feelings and needs without having to be told all the time. One of John Gottman’s studies found a link between satisfying marriages and a husband’s ability to interpret his wife’s nonverbal cues. “The best relationships are those that involve two emotionally present partners,” says Gilda Carle, PhD, relationship expert and author of 8 Tips to Understand the Opposite Sex. “When a partner is emotionally present, he’ll be able to sense nonverbal cues about the wants and needs of the person with whom he’s living. He’ll feel the emotional pulse of his partner and then ask how he can help, support, or offer advice.” The bottom line: Pay attention to your partner, because there are plenty of cues that you should be picking up on.

Advice to forget: Opposites attract

The idea that one partner’s strengths compensate for the other’s weaknesses and vice versa sounds good at first. But the Gottmans say that their research finds no support for this commonly held belief. You can be opposites on some smaller subjects (for example, you love to read a book at the beach and he’d rather hit the waves). But it when it comes down to core issues like money management or disciplining the kids, it’s best to be similar. “Two people with totally different interests and desires will find that opposites dis-tract,” says Carle. “When two people are at opposite ends of an issue, they may end up arguing to convince their partner to change to their side. This could have been avoided if they chose a partner who was more aligned with their own belief systems.” Here are 15 more early signs your relationship isn’t going to last.

Advice to forget: Talk things out until you agree with each other

We hate to break the news to you, but sometimes it’s just not going to happen. (Sorry, Grandma.) The good news is that this doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed. Sixty-nine percent of marriage problems are managed rather than solved, according to John Gottman’s research. The key is to avoid a “gridlocked conflict,” in which you can’t make headway in a recurring fight. At the bottom of these issues, the Gottmans have found, are core-value differences that take couples by surprise. For instance, a fight about finances isn’t just about the cash; it’s also about the meaning of money, power, freedom, and security.

You might not be able to find the perfect compromise in every situation, but by creating an open dialogue, you can discuss the issue without hurting feelings. “It would be nearly impossible to agree with your partner on every topic,” says Saladino. “The key is remaining respectful in your conversations and limiting resentment for things that aren’t discussed. Doing the hard work of finding a compromise on tough topics keeps you on the same page and your relationship healthy.” Your grandparents aren’t the only ones with plenty of great and not-so-great advice—this is the advice you should and shouldn’t follow from your in-laws.

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25 Funny Marriage Quotes That Might Actually Be True https://www.rd.com/advice/relationships/funny-marriage-quotes/ Mon, 07 Oct 2019 17:49:35 +0000 https://www.rd.com/?post_type=slideshows&p=116609 Wise words and wisecracks that capture what it’s like to tie the knot.

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Where did all the love go?!

15 Funny Marriage Quotes That Might Actually Be True

“Getting married is like trading the adoration of many for the sarcasm of one.” —Mae West

Just try not to be too sarcastic—or else you’ll need these 8 tips to avoid marriage counseling sooner rather than later.

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8 Pieces of Advice to Take from Your In-Laws and 5 to Forget https://www.rd.com/advice/relationships/advice-from-your-in-laws/ Thu, 03 Oct 2019 19:52:36 +0000 https://www.rd.com/?p=1287382 Your in-laws are right about some things…and wrong about others. Find out what advice to keep and what to ditch.

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Your in-laws likely give you all kinds of advice. Some of it is worth keeping. And some of it….not so much. We spoke to the experts to get their take on what words of wisdom to keep and which ones to toss.

Advice to forget: Never fight

It’s abnormal not to fight. Even happy couples have fights. Otherwise, that means one of you is too scared to bring up the subject and your issues won’t be resolved. You shouldn’t have to hide how you’re feeling if you’re in a healthy relationship. “Remember that your love interest liked you just the way you were when the two of you met,” says Gilda Carle, PhD, relationship expert and author of 8 Steps to a Sizzling Marriage. “If you suddenly withhold your passions about something, question whether you’ve given up your personal power. Fight for what you believe, and your passion will continue to turn your honey on.” These are the 13 most common normal fights even happy couples have.

Advice to keep: Look good for one another

It may sound a bit old-fashioned, but your in-laws have a point. Ditch those sweats (sometimes) for that dress he adores. Put on those tight jeans she raves about. This shows that you don’t take him or her for granted, even if you’ve been together for years. Added bonus: you’ll feel more alive by taking such measures. Research on couples around the world found that the happiest couples prioritized staying attractive for each other (along with giving back rubs and having good communication). “Show that you still prioritize the connection you have as lovers, not just as parents or roommates,” says Andrea Syrtash, relationship expert, and author of Cheat On Your Husband (With Your Husband). “Dressing up for date night, for example, won’t only be noticed by your partner but it will likely remind you of the early days when you were courting each other.”

Advice to keep: Laugh together

It’s common to only discuss life’s daily logistics and routines, especially when you have kids. But healthy couples laugh together—and often. It helps maintain the joy and spirit in your relationship. “Laughing boosts everyone’s mood and probably is something you did in the early days of dating your partner,” says Syrtash. She adds that the average couple with kids communicates for about ten minutes a day uninterrupted. “So it’s worth making time to chat, laugh, and hang out when the kid(s) are sleeping or even text during the day.” It can help bond you and give you a feeling of mutual joy and understanding. A paper from University Kansas professor Jeffrey Hall gives data-backed validity to something you may have figured out for yourself: Couples who laugh together, stay together. In fact, laughing together is one of the 11 daily habits of the happiest couples.

Advice to keep: Cook for him (or her)

You think it’s crazy how your mother-in-law slaves over making dinner from scratch every night. But, she may have a point. The way to a man’s heart (or to a woman’s, for that matter) may be through their stomach. Make his favorite meatballs for dinner, even if you aren’t a meat-eater. On Sunday morning, surprise her with your homemade waffles. “Food has long been associated with love,” says Fran Walfish, PsyD (aka Dr. Fran), a family and relationship psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent: Resolving Conflict and Building a Better Bond with Your Child. “It began with the love of the breastfeeding (feeding) mother to her infant.”

Advice to forget: Don’t keep secrets from one another

Yes, honesty is the best policy. But it’s totally fine to keep a few things to yourself, even when you’re married. For example, when a friend says “Don’t tell this to anyone,” it’s OK not to betray her. You want to be a good friend and don’t want to lose that friend’s trust. It’s fine to keep a friend’s secrets to yourself. And your spouse likely won’t understand or even care about it anyway, says Lisa Hochberger, M.Ed., a sexologist, sex educator, and relationship expert. “There is no harm in keeping a friend’s secret that doesn’t affect your spouse,” she says.

Advice to keep: Compliment one another

Your father-in-law is telling your MIL she looks gorgeous, yet again. It’s a good habit to mimic. “Too often, couples start to take for granted all the good things about their partner and complain about the flaws and friction points,” says Jill Whitney, LMFT, who practices in Old Lyme, Connecticut, and blogs about relationships and sexuality. “It’s fine to talk about things you hope will improve, but it’s essential to also give attention to all the good things about the one you love.” Happy couples know how to give a sincere and genuine compliment. In fact, a study found that receiving a compliment has the same positive effect as receiving cash.

Advice to keep: Show some PDA

You may think it’s gross when your in-laws get touchy-feely, but, touch is the building block of intimacy and connection. “Touch allows for a sense of being connected and in sync with your partner,” says Carla Marie Manly, PhD, a clinical psychologist and author of Joy From Fear. “Touch can be reassuring and affirming. A partner may feel safer when the other offers loving, supportive touch.” In fact, not touching can feel to the other person like you’re trying to fend them off.

Advice to forget: You must always act like honeymooners

The chemistry we feel for a spouse can ebb and flow. It’s not unusual in a marriage to go through periods where we feel a lack of desire for our spouse, even if your relationship is solid. With daily responsibilities like work, running a household, and chauffeuring the kids, your passion for each other may take a backseat. You likely can’t jet off to the Caribbean or spend hours in bed like in your newlywed days to rev up the romance. But you can do little things to rekindle your relationship. For example, Carle says you can make an appointment for romance by lining up trusted babysitters. “Sure, advance planning loses its spontaneity, but keep in mind the beautiful family you exchanged for spur-of-the-moment lovemaking,” she says. “When life takes over, reality reveals that sometimes you don’t have the energy or interest to act as you did when you had fewer commitments.” Instead, look to these 15 signs that your relationship is solid as a rock.

Advice to forget: Spend all your free time together

Your mom and dad may spend every waking moment together, but spending time apart isn’t a reflection on the status of your relationship. In fact, a break—even a short one—revives it. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder. “When two people are apart, they get to experience independent activities they can bring back to their honey and share through fresh eyes,” says Carle. “Each partner can grow from his/her time apart.” On the other hand, couples who spend every hour together can get bored by repeating the same experiences. “Apartness adds spontaneity, which couples fear will disappear when they meld their lives,” says Dr. Carle.

Advice to keep: Say I love you

If you’re looking to build a stronger relationship, you need to say “I love you.” “Saying I love you to your partner, whether it’s first thing in the morning or at bedtime, is important,” says Bonnie Winston, a celebrity matchmaker and relationship expert. “And saying it with a shared kiss makes it extra special.” Happy couples say it throughout the day—when they wake up, when they’re eating lunch, when they go to sleep. She says for variation to try other meaningful three-word phrases like “You amaze me,” “You enthrall me,” “I adore you” or “You’re my everything.” Slip these phrases into conversation whenever possible. These 11 ways to say “I love you” without words will also help them feel appreciated.

Advice to keep: Check in with one another

Your father-in-law can’t drive to the supermarket without a call from your MIL asking if he made it there OK. You don’t have to communicate 24/7, but couples in healthy relationships do call or text—to show the kid’s latest mess, an online joke, or for no reason at all. “Studies indicate that there has been a decline in communications between couples,” says Antonia Hall, MA, a psychologist, relationship expert, and author of The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life. “So it’s important to re-prioritize our relationships. Checking in can be a great way to do that. Use check-in time with your partner as a way to foster connectivity.”

Advice to keep: Don’t hold a grudge

You won’t let it go that he was on a business trip on your birthday. He can’t forget you didn’t make it to his company holiday party. Not letting go of something, aka a grudge, is toxic for a relationship. “Holding onto a grudge can contribute to increased stress levels and cause harm to your physical and psychological well-being,” says Hall. “Letting go of grudges isn’t easy. But it’s important for your own health as much as the good of your relationships.”

Advice to forget: Don’t ask for what you want in bed

Women are better now than in the 30s and 40s for asking for their sexual needs and wants to be fulfilled, says Walfish. So unlike your in-laws, tell your guy what you want done in bed. And guys, it’s OK to request frequency, speed, and type of sex you want and need. “Sex is a wonderful way for couples to bond and communicate, in addition to verbal language,” says Walfish. “Healthy couples fortify the foundation of their relationship by nourishing the marital relationship with sex.” Read on for the best marriage advice from people married for 50+ years.

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10 Subtle Signs Your Partner Sees You as Just a Fling https://www.rd.com/advice/relationships/are-you-a-fling/ Tue, 01 Oct 2019 13:30:27 +0000 https://www.rd.com/?post_type=listicle&p=295484 So, you just met someone, and you’re completely over the moon. Unfortunately, sometimes your partner might not be on the same page as you are. Here are the red flags to look for early on so your heart doesn’t get crushed.

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“Commitment” isn’t in his vocab

coupleIf your partner gets antsy when you bring up the “C” word, it could mean that he isn’t ready for a real relationship with you. “If someone avoids the topics of commitment or exclusivity like the plague, it’s probably a sign that they don’t see any longer-term future with you,” explains Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Bregman, a rabbi and matchmaker based in New York City. “Obviously, the appropriateness of this talk, and what it might look like, will vary depending upon the stage of your relationship (i.e. eight weeks vs. 52 weeks). However, if your partner takes you seriously, he will realize this is a reasonable human expectation and be open to talking about it, and want to address your feelings,” explains Bregman. Find out the signs that your relationship is solid as a rock.

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Heartwarming Stories of Relatives Who Found Each Other Through DNA Tests https://www.rd.com/advice/relationships/reunited-by-science/ Fri, 27 Sep 2019 20:18:16 +0000 https://www.rd.com/?post_type=listicle&p=1266743

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