October is domestic violence awareness month it is a time to consider how we can spread the word if there are any secrets out there about how to have peaceful relationships with our spouses/partners.

Every couple out there who has survived a few years of married life can usually thank heavens for a few strategies that have kept them out of trouble. Here are a few we have found to be most commonly used to help grow a relationship, keep things from getting super heated in a bad way or to escape a blow up that is about to happen.

If your wife/husband/partner says you two have a problem in your relationship, then you DO have a problem. †

Donít just think your mate is full of crap, or exaggerating the issue, and donít put off getting help. The saddest thing for many coupleís counselors is that so many couples finally decide to go to counseling after it is already too late ó after the person who was begging for counseling in the first place has already given up. There are at least five on or off-post free counseling options available for couples. Call Military One Source, at 800-464-8107 for more information. At least go to a chaplains or Army Community Service (ACS) couples workshop to learn some tips and see how other couples cope. ACS has a practically famous, monthly coupleís workshop that is a lot of fun call 396-5521 to sign up.

If youíre mad at your partner about something or resent something about them, donít believe you can get away with hiding it.†

So many husbands especially, may be angry about how early they had their first baby or about a friend who ends up taking too much or their partnerís time, but donít want to get into it so they keep it hidden Ė they think. If youíre one of these anger/gripe hiders, donít kid yourself, it comes out. It probably is already coming out loud and clear by way of sarcasm, a short temper, or being slow to help. And since these behaviors donít clearly have a cause, your mate probably thinks youíre a jerk or no longer the person they married, or worse. If you have one of these gripes or resentments find a way to get it out more directly.

How the heck do I do that?! (Get my gripes out more directly) †

Find a way to say it to your partner in a way you would say it to your best friend or someone you respect very highly. For example, ďLet me say something to you and donít respond until I get it all out. I realized I have been keeping something inside that Iím a little upset about and it has been causing me to be a little obnoxious to you in unfair ways, because you probably have no idea why Iíve been that way. I think itís because you spend a lot of time either playing those video games or out with your friends and I miss those times when we spent more time together. I know you love those things and donít want to give them up but Iíve needed you for several things the past few months and havenít felt like you were available. I would like for us to solve this in a way that works for both of us.Ē

See the leadership bearing used of being tactful, respectful, and presenting a reasonable solution within the statement? Notice no labels such as lazy, stupid, crazy, etc. were used These are the hidden dynamite within those conversations that for some reason get crazy, heated real quick.

Let your partner talk it out to you - and listen.†

A lot of us get home and we donít want to hear about the problems our mate has had or we just want to decompress until the weekend or we have some great things on our electronic devices and TVís that we want to catch up on.† Find a way to talk more to your partner every day and never take this for granted. Just being a better listener, putting down the phone, remotes, magazines and facing your partner when he/she talks to you is a great start. This is one of the most important ways you do another important thing Ė express frequent appreciation for your mate, for who they are, what they do, how they think.

Hug and/or kiss as often as possible.†

What a powerful thing a prolonged hug is, especially for a guy to do who has just heard his spouse talk for 10 minutes about something he has no idea how to fix or respond to.

Suggest a limited time for those uncomfortable, crappy things.†

Maybe youíre stressed that the living room is so dirty or that you both keep putting off doing the taxes or that you never agreed upon how to discipline your about-to-be-born baby. Perhaps he dreads it too because it will ruin the whole day. How about proposing you both spend 30 minutes, two hours from now knocking out the living room or taking 10 minutes to call and schedule a tax time after work on a weekday? Spending 10 or 30 minutes on a problem is a lot better than not at all and might just be enough to make a significant dent in those unfinished things around a household that can often cause a surprising amount of stress, anger, or uncertainty between a couple.

Respect your partnerís need for security in your relationship.†

Facebook and work friendships are the biggest danger zones with this. Have you ďfriend-edĒ an old boy- or girlfriend from high school on Facebook? Are you developing a platonic but close friendship with a person of the opposite sex at work or from night classes? Recognize clearly and realistically that these contacts by anyone who is either married or in a committed relationship are playing with fire. In some cases they are perfectly unavoidable and ok. In many cases they may be based upon an immature personal need that will threaten the relationship. If you are indeed mature, always make these relationships known to your partner if you have even that faintest thought they might be upset if they donít know, and try to ensure as many contacts with this person as possible include your partner.† If your partner wants you to cool off your friendship with the person, do not ever under estimate the need to do that Ė see above. Find an agreed upon solution.

Avoid knock-down, drag out arguments.†

If we are in the midst of deciding whether to divorce or break up or already at that point and we have a partner who is going to hit the roof, we can usually predict when or what topics will cause the bad kind of fireworks. Plan for them, and for how to avoid a fight, so you donít come to blows. If you are about to have a fire fight at home (there is a lot of yelling and extreme anger going on), try to call a time out Ė seriously. Say, ďWe both are really getting pissed about this right now! Iím going to go outside from a few minutes. I PROMISE I will be back in 20 minutes because I know this is important to get settled. But please letís do this Ė Iím going now but I promise I will be backĒ. If you are divorcing and know you canít stand each other, protect yourself from being accused of striking out or from losing your temper by planning meetings so that they will be safe.

There are so many great places to go for help or more information about improving our relationships. ACS is one Ė call 396-5521 if you need counseling sources or a coupleís workshop. There are even Apps that can help. Check out Girlfriend Keeper, Relationships, Honeydo, or Icebreak for Couples. If you are in a relationship where you are being abused and donít know how to get out there is 24 hour help. You can call the Fort Bragg victim hotline at 910-322-3418 or the national hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233). If you are worried about your privacy or are not sure if you really want help right now, just call, ask questions and donít give your name. You will still get help!