A Better Relationship in 3 Steps
It's amazing how making a few small adjustments to your relationship can have a powerful, long-lasting effect. It's often the small, negative habits that we allow to stay in our relationship that eventually wear down the connection and feelings of love between two people. Creating habits of small, positive behaviors can turn a relationship around or strengthen an already good relationship.
1. Be genuinely interested in your partner's world.
It's a wonderful experience to feel that your partner genuinely knows you - your likes and dislikes, hopes, fears, dreams, and worries. We generally keep up with our partner's world when we are dating and newly married, but it's easy to get caught up with life and forget that your partner's world is constantly changing. Their favorite movie, song, dessert, or hobby may not be the same as they were ten years ago. Their hopes, dreams, worries, and goals won't be the same either. Do you know your partner's current worries, hopes for the future, goals for the next month and year? If not, these are great conversation topics for date night.
2. Point out the positives.
It's so fun to watch newly in-love couples. They tend to notice all of the positives about each other and are quick to point out what they love about their partner. Magically, it seems like the positives about their partner greatly outweigh any negatives. How do couple's switch from noticing everything positive about their partner to noticing everything that irritates or disappoints them? Some of the change comes from the novelty of the relationship wearing off, but some of the change is just bad thinking habits. We can choose what we focus on, in any situation. The wonderful aspects of your partner that you fell in love with are still there. Are you choosing to look for them? Be quick to tell your partner when you see characteristics about them that you love. This builds and maintains feelings of fondness and emotional intimacy in a long-term relationship.
3. Make daily connection a priority.
So many couples come into my practice and say that they don't have any time together anymore. They are busy with kids, jobs, chores, and just trying to manage life. When these couples do talk, it is usually "shop talk," about who will pick up little Johnny from soccer practice or who will drop off the dry cleaning. While these interactions are necessary for the family to function, they don't do much for making a couple feel close and connected. Creating a feeling of closeness involves slowing down for five or ten minutes, shutting out any distractions, looking each other in the eye, holding hands, and emotionally checking in. This is a time for friendship talk, which is a good way to show that you are genuinely interested in your partner's world.
I'd love to hear how adding these three small behaviors to your daily relationship routine brings about a big change.