Whether you’re still trying to establish new routines, work from home while caring for your children or others, or dealing with a precarious employment situation, we all could use a bit of extra support right now. For many of us, we have spent more time with our partner in the past few weeks than we have in the past few years. Being together 24/7 can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be.
Here are some of my tips on how to take care of your relationship and get those sparks flying in a good way!
- Remind yourself of the good stuff. Where focus goes energy flows. No one is perfect, whether you focus on your partner's admirable qualities or their faults - it will have a huge impact on your relationship. Let’s say you view your partner as 90% admirable and 10% faults. If you only focus on that 10%, it gets 100% of your attention which is problematic. Instead, focus on the good stuff - verbalise your appreciation every day. Before long you should see the impact on your relationship and what they notice about you too. And if you don't then don't worry, as there are other things you can do.
- Focus on what YOU can change - not how you want your partner to change. This is key - waiting for your partner to change will only leave you feeling frustrated and helpless. Take this time to consider what YOU bring to your relationship and your own personal growth. It is inevitable that your partner will be affected by the changes that you make.
- Listen first, then talk. How often do you interrupt with defensive explanations or advice? People will listen more when they feel listened too. Notice how you begin to feel more connected and listened to when it’s your turn to share.
- Redefine what it means to be in a happy relationship. We all had this fairy tale image of what marriage and family life would be like - Disney has pumped it out from childhood for decades. And then there is the reality. The good news is that you can have most of what you imagined if you shift your mindset and think about what it is that you really need and what actions you can take to make a mental shift. We would all be a lot happier if we acknowledged this .
- Know their love language. Do you know your partner's preferred way of expressing and receiving love? There are five love languages and unless you know your own and each other’s it can be difficult to consistently meet each other’s expectations and needs for love. To find out more and take the test, look up “The 5 Love Languages”, by Gary Chapman.
- It’s the little things that count. Simple things such as receiving a loving greeting, or offering a cup of tea without having to ask to make a huge difference to how appreciated we feel. Make a commitment to do “little things” every day to show your appreciation to your partner and keep the sparks alive.
- Couples meetings. Set aside time each week for a couple's meeting. Inordinately I would suggest doing this outside the home on neutral ground, perhaps the garden or a walk if that is possible. Start the meeting with appreciations, next brainstorm solutions to items on the agenda, choose a solution to try it for the week. End each meeting by doing something fun together. It helps to have a list of things you both want to do prepared that you can add to and tick off.
- You are still a couple despite having other distractions. Schedule time for the two of you and make sure it happens. What did you do when you first met that you have stopped doing in the past few years? Be imaginative! When spending time together, talk about your interests instead of focusing on one area. Transforming your relationship is one of the most meaningful things you can do for your unit and it can have a huge impact on other areas too. So, don’t feel guilty for taking time out for yourselves as a couple.
- Give each other space. We all need our own time and space to switch off, deal with our own stuff, or just to be. Relationships need balance - spending time as a family, a couple or as individuals. Respect each other's need to do individual activities and make time for it without resentment.
- Laughter is the best medicine. Laughter is good for the soul and great for your relationship - there are PhDs on the subject and laughter therapy classes. A sense of humour can create magic, especially when things get tense. When you see yourself getting too serious, look for the humour in the situation but be careful to make sure you don't use this to belittle your partner's feelings or share it too openly which can cause upset. Humour is always relative.
I hope you find this helpful, if you need any help with your relationship and want to talk please get in touch through the usual channels.