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Tips for Better Communication with Your Spouse

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To keep a relationship strong and healthy, effective communication is a key skill. Communication allows couples to share their thoughts and feelings and engage in healthy problem solving. The following communication tips can help show you how to better communicate and connect, whether you and your partner have been together for months, years, or decades:

Take time to be with one another.

It can be easy for life's daily responsibilities and obligations to interfere with the time you allot to your relationship. However, every relationship needs nurturing and attention. Try not to let your busy schedules come between the time you take for intimacy. Set aside at least one hour of private time each day to spend with your spouse. Enjoy it by engaging in a fun activity or even spending some quiet moments together. You can also strengthen your bond by using this time to talk about the highs and lows of your day.

Talk about the tough stuff– at an appropriate time.

Try not to accost your spouse the minute he or she walks in the door from work. Instead, ask your mate for a specific time when you two can discuss an important topic. Choose an appropriate time when you can both give your undivided attention. Before you meet to talk, write down your thoughts so you can keep the conversation on track. When you come together, share your thoughts and listen to each other for ten minutes, making sure each person has ample time to share feelings. If you need more time, schedule another time to talk about the issue at a later date.

Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Try to speak your point clearly and directly. Avoid beating around the bush; get right to your point as soon as possible. After you've finished saying your part, listen to what your spouse's reply is. Don't badger and argue over opinions; this is your opportunity to create solutions and problem solve.

Listen to both sides.

Don't elevate your voice when a disagreement occurs. Stick to a gentle, calm, but firm tone of voice, and only talk about what's most important: Choose your words wisely and tell your partner what you need, why it's important, and what your partner needs to do. Listen to what your partner needs as well, knowing that understanding his or her needs is just as important as you voicing your needs.

Talk about how you feel. Don't blame.

Share your feelings, rather than accuse the other person. A helpful way to do this is to use “I” statements, instead of “You” statements; for example, say “I'm disappointed that you didn't show up to dinner on time,” instead of “You're always ruining dinner by being late.” When your spouse doesn't feel blamed, he or she is less likely to react defensively, and more likely to listen and think about what's needed to correct the situation.

Appreciate your differences.

Understanding and accepting your differences can help you appreciate that you may communicate in a different way than your spouse. He may prefer to write about his feelings instead of vocalize them. Or she may prefer to take a walk after a disagreement, and then work on solutions when she returns. Honor these differences, and be creative in accommodating them when solving your problems. When you appreciate the unique communicative style of the other person, you'll be better able to get along and better able to nurture a healthy relationship with your loved one.

Written by Life Advantages – Author Delvina Miremadi ©2014

9 Tips to Get Organized for Tax Time

Getting organized to file your taxes can remove a lot of the stress involved with meeting the April 15 deadline.

The nine tips below are helpful reminders to make sure you have all the information you need in front of you when it's time to file your taxes:

1. Mark important tax dates on your calendar. While April 15th is the biggest deadline, you also want to make sure you receive any W–2, 1098 or 1099 forms on time as well. All of these should have been mailed to you by January 31st, so if you haven't received them yet, contact the company that is responsible for sending them to make sure you have them well in advance of the filing date.

2. Decide on a filing system. Whether you use paper clips, accordion folders, color–coded Post–it notes, or some other system, decide on how you're going to physically group and hold together important paperwork and documents. If you do everything paperless online, that's great, but be sure to keep electronic records organized in folders. Having a physical paper trail can come in handy in case of an audit.

3. Gather all income statements and documents. Group together any and all sources of income, which may include W–2, 1098 or 1099 forms as well as paid invoices or any other evidence of income you have received in the past year.

4. Gather all deductions. Group together documents regarding mortgage interest payments, property taxes, charitable gifts, medical bills, and any other items that may count as deductions.

5. Gather all receipts. If you have deductions that only have accompanying receipts as opposed to a document with the information, keep them separately in a file or folder.

6. Use your filing system. This may sound obvious, but in order for a filing system to be most effective, you actually have to use it all year and not just when tax season comes around.

7. Decide how you're going to file. Be sure to consider different tax statuses if you are eligible for more than one. For example, if you're married and can file either jointly with your spouse or separately, be sure to consider both options. This might be something for you to investigate throughout the year, especially if your circumstances change.

8. Decide the method by which you will file. Will you e–file, use a tax filing software program, hand everything over to an accountant, or just fill out the paperwork by hand yourself? Whichever you decide, make sure you have everything in place for using this method well before the April 15th deadline.

9. Keep up–to–date on tax laws. While it might be a good idea to get expert advice regarding tax law, you should also keep an eye on the news for anything that might affect you or your business. A well–informed client can often help attorneys give the best legal advice, so make sure you know about any changes in tax provisions that could apply to you.

National Observances

American Heart Month
National Black History Month
Relationship Wellness Month

Week of February 1–7
Women's Heart Week
International Friendship Week

Week of February 9–15
Children of Alcoholics Week

Week of February 16–22
Healthy Weight Week

Week of February 23–3/1
National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Presidents' Day – February 17

What is EAP?

The Employee Assistance Progr am (EAP) is a FREE and CONFIDENTIAL service that can assist you and your eligible family members with ANY personal concern, large or small.

Employees and family members can call Canopy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We can help! Call Canopy to schedule an in–person appointment or get the resources you need. For more information, please call us at:


Almond & Lemon Crusted Fish with Spinach

Zest and juice of 1 lemon, divided
½ cup sliced almonds, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tbsp. plus 2 teaspoons extra–virgin olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 ¼ lb. wild caught cod or halibut, cut into 4 portions
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, slivered
1 pound baby spinach
Lemon wedges for garnish

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray

Combine lemon zest, almonds, dill, 1 tbsp. oil, ½ tsp salt and pepper in a small bowl. Place fish on the prepared baking sheet and spread each portion with 1 teaspoon mustard. Divide the almond mixture among the portions, pressing it onto the mustard.

Bake the fish until opaque in the center, about 7 to 9 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not brown, about 30 seconds. Stir in spinach, lemon juice and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt; season with pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the spinach is just wilted, 2 to 4 minutes. Cover to keep warm. Serve the fish with the spinach and lemon wedges, if desired.

1 small butternut squash, cubed
2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
3 Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
1 red onion, quartered
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F (245 degrees C).
In a large bowl, combine the squash, red bell peppers, sweet potato, and Yukon Gold potatoes. Separate the red onion quarters into pieces, and add them to the mixture.
In a small bowl, stir together thyme, rosemary, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Toss with vegetables until they are coated. Spread evenly on a large roasting pan.
Roast for 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, stirring every 10 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through and browned.
Serves 12.