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  • Dr. Teresa Edwards, LMFT

A Better Relationship in 3 Steps

Making some minor changes to your relationship can yield significant and enduring results. Frequently, it's the small, negative habits that we allow to stay in our relationship that gradually erodes the connection and love between partners. Establishing positive habits of small gestures can revitalize a relationship or enhance an already positive one.

Small Changes for a Better Relationship

1. Show Genuine Interest.

It's truly magical to feel that your partner genuinely knows you - your likes and dislikes, hopes, fears, dreams, and worries. While we tend to stay attuned to our partner's world during the initial stages of dating and early marriage, it's easy to get caught up with life and forget that your partner's world is constantly changing.

Your partner's 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, and goals for the next month and year? If not, these are great conversation topics for date night.

2. Point out the positives.

Observing couples in the initial phases of love provides valuable insights into fostering feelings of closeness and connection. These couples tend to notice and point out all of the positive qualities they like and admire about their partners. Almost magically, it seems like their partner's positive qualities far outweigh any negative.

How do couples transition from focusing on all the positive aspects of their partner to becoming more attuned to irritations and disappointments? While part of this shift stems from the novelty of

the relationship wearing off, some of the change results from the development of bad thinking habits.

We have the power to select what we focus on, in any situation. The delightful qualities in your partner that initially drew you in are still present. The question is: are you choosing to look for them? Cultivate a mental habit of seeking the qualities in your partner that you value, and be quick to express your appreciation when you recognize them. This builds and maintains feelings of fondness and emotional intimacy in a long-term relationship.

3. Prioritize Daily Connection

Many couples I see in practice express a common concern - they don't have any time for each other anymore. The demands of children, work, household chores, and the overall management of life consume their days. When these couples do find time to communicate, it is usually "shop talk," revolving around practical matters, like coordinating childcare or managing household tasks. While these conversations are essential for family functionality, they don't contribute significantly to fostering a sense of closeness and connection between partners.

Creating a sense of closeness involves slowing down for five or ten minutes, eliminating 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.

It's remarkable how small adjustments can pave the way for a more fulfilling and harmonious relationship.

By being genuinely interested in our partner's world, expressing fondness and admiration, and taking moments to connect on a deeper level, we can nurture a bond that withstands the test of time.

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