Our relationship with our significant other is the center of our life. It is what motivates us to get up each day, go to work and come back home at the end of the day. It is what brings us joy, whether we are together or apart. And yet, our relationship often is what we ignore; we allow other, less important parts of our life, to come to the forefront and push the relationship to the back burner. In a post a few weeks ago, 6 Necessary Ingredients for a Healthy Relationship, we discussed what areas are important. This week, we talk about 10 things you can do right now to help make your relationship stronger and more satisfying - for both you and your partner.
List 5 Reasons Why You Love Your Partner
After awhile we tend to look at what we don’t like about our partner and focus on that. But in the beginning, you focused on all the reasons why you loved your partner. It may be his or her laugh, smile, kindness, compassion or any number of other traits. Write down 5 things you love about your partner and ask him to ask to do the same. Take some time to remember why you fell in love.
Compliment Your Partner Everyday
When was the last time you complimented your partner? When he is leaving for work, do you let him know you think she looks nice? Do you notice his new haircut? Pay attention to what your partner does right and find at least one opportunity to give him or her a compliment every day. Remember to show how much you appreciate one another.
Find Time for Your Partner
For many couples, by the time you get home from work, make dinner, spend time with the children, you are exhausted and ready for bed. There is little time left to sit and enjoy time spent with your spouse. Set aside time each day, even if for a few minutes, to connect with your partner- just the two of you. Plan a date night once a week. This can be a romantic dinner, at home, after the children go to bed or a night out on the town. But, once a week, plan to spend time together, alone.
Reconnect as Friends
Spend time doing something that you both enjoy. We all have hobbies and interests; ways we like to spend our time. Some of these are probably things your spouse doesn’t enjoy or isn’t very interested in sharing with you. But there are probably lots of activities that you both enjoy and used to do together. But make sure you take time to ask your partner about his or her interests. Let them know you care about their likes and dislikes. Be not only a partner but a friend.
Share Your Dreams and Goals
If you have been in your relationship for any length of time, chances are your dreams and goals have changed, at least somewhat. Share what you want out of life, where you see yourself in several years, what matters in life. Talk about what you want to accomplish. As you discuss your goals, look for those that you both share; working together toward a common goal can help you grow closer together.
Talk About Your Needs
After we have been with someone for a period of time, we assume the other person knows what we need and want and then become angry when we don’t get it. Instead of assuming the other person knows, keep communication open and let your partner know what you need (without being critical) and want. In the same way, don’t guess what your partner wants, ask.
Show Your Partner You Care Every Day
Do something nice. You might start the coffee before he or she gets up or bring a cup of coffee to him while he is shaving. You might give a compliment or offer to give her a massage. You might buy a small gift or hold her hand when you are walking through the store. In the beginning of your relationship, you probably did small caring things all the time. Try to do between 3 and 5 caring behaviors each day.
Stop Blaming Each Other
It is easy to place the blame for your most recent argument or unhappiness on your spouse and we often start discussions with “You did”"; instead, start with “I felt”" Beginning a conversation telling your partner what he or she did wrong usually ends up with defensive and hurt feelings which can quickly escalate into a full scale argument. Think about why you didn’t like a certain behavior and explain that rather than accusing your partner of being wrong.
Spend More Time Touching
Touching and cuddling makes you feel emotionally closer. Hold hands when out walking, touch each other when you come home from work or when you are saying good-bye. Cuddle when watching television.
Say I Love You
You love your partner, even on the days you don’t like him or her. Make sure she knows how much you care, how much he means to you. Say "I Love You" every day.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.