Eight ways to reconnect with our partners
In a world filled with stress, uncertainty and high separation rates, what do we need to do to stay together? How do we nurture our relationships, reconnect and stay happy with our partners?
In my relationship counselling work, I see common patterns and themes of what can contribute to a relationship’s downfall and what fosters a satisfying one.
Here is a list of 8 simple ways couples can strengthen relationships and beat the statistics.
1. Be the partner you want
It’s easy to get lost focusing on your partner’s shortcomings. However, blaming stunts connection and responsible participation in your relationship. Blaming ensures an unhappy cycle. So, challenge yourself to explore what you are contributing to the relationship. Ask yourself, how you can improve what you bring?
2. Set aside 10-15 minutes every day with no devices.
Ask your partner about their day and listen with purpose. Focus on what they are saying. Ask questions and/or summarise what you have heard so they know they’ve been heard. Relationship researcher Dr. John Gottman, found that a few minutes of focused communication are more important than spending a week together with distractions.
3. Practise daily appreciation for one another.
In the business of life and daily stress, it’s easy to focus on what isn’t working or what your partner isn’t doing to your liking. Here’s the challenge: Train yourself to focus on what they are doing right, how they are contributing positively and then let them know. This daily practice of expressed appreciation reconnects and reminds our partners they are loved, and as a result, cultivates a stronger connection with further understanding.
4. Eat meals together without screens.
Research shows that couples who eat together feel better about their partners. During meals you are sharing time in the experience of eating, sharing your likes, dislikes and conversing about your day. Remember to leave your devices with notifications turned off.
5. Plan a holiday together without the kids.
It’s so easy for many parents to anxiously focus on their children’s activities at the expense of their primary intimate relationship. Be mindful of the balance. All our relationships require time, investment and attention to thrive. When is the last holiday, short or long, that you took with your partner? As lockdown begins to ease, maybe it’s time to start planning one today. Even a weekend away can work wonders!
6. Do physical activities together.
Couples who participate in physical activity together report more satisfaction in their relationship. To increase this phenomenon, studies tell us that couples who take more risks to embark on new and “exciting” activities feel more “connected” to each other. Have conversations about a physical activity that interests you. Try something new together, or something you haven’t done in a while. Commit to it and mark it down in your calendar this week.
7. Date night.
Setting time aside to reconnect with our partners shows them they matter. How about scheduling a date night once every 2-weeks? Whether you’re putting the kids to bed and having a candlelit dinner at home, or curling up together with Netflix, (without devices!) set this time in your calendar. This is one appointment that will help fuel your connection.
8. Have more physical contact.
Increase your emotional intimacy through touch. Physical contact releases oxytocin (the bonding hormone), can improve our mood and is calming. Holding hands, hugging, touching, and kissing can reduce your stress hormones (cortisol) and increase your sense of relationship satisfaction.
While this list may seem like a lot, these ideas are all very doable. Relationships require effort and thoughtful planning. Change takes time and you’ll want to set yourself up for success, so start with small steps and don’t give up.
Why not discuss the list with your partner and choose one or two items to undertake this week. Then as you move forward, add or change the items you are doing.