One of the challenges of a long-term relationship is trusting that our partner can change.Â After years of the same irritations and missed connections itâs easy to assume that thereâs very little you can do to make your relationship fresh again. But the truth is that relationships, like people, are always changing and with a little effort we can make sure that those changes are for the better.
The secret to keeping the spark alive and your connection to each other strong are not only in the grand romantic gestures that happen occasionally, but the small daily moments of connection.Â The most important thing any couple can do to make those moments count is to be intentional.
Each day ask yourself what you can do to show affection and kindness toward your spouse – then do it. With a little intentional effort you can change your relationship for the better in just a few weeks.Â Let me be clear, a month of intentional effort is not going to fully resolve major issues or long-standing conflicts but it is possible to change your attitude and set your relationship on a new, happier course.
One way to stay motivated and put my theory of small changes to the test is to have regular relationship check-ins. Our satisfaction with our relationship can fluctuate through out the day just like our mood, so daily or hourly check-ins are not the best approach.Â When evaluating how your relationship is going and the impact of your new efforts be sure to take the long view.Â While you may be annoyed at the moment, how would you describe things overall?Â This broad perspective is just a helpful when things are rocky as it is when things seem to be going well.Â A weekly check-in can be helpful as long as you aren’t using it only as an opportunity to air your grievances.Â Make your check-in a balanced conversation about what is working really well and what areas you want to improve – not just what your partner can do but what you want to do for them.
How do we create more connection?
Often we think it is the big things that make or break a relationship but the truth is that it is the small daily things we do that matter the most. Here are three simple ways to improve connection and shift your perspective on your relationship:
1. Hug and kiss at least twice a day.Â For a couple that is very affectionate this may seem simple but it’s the non-sexual touches that often get overlooked in a busy week.Â Physical intimacy can do wonders for keeping you connected and expressing love and appreciation that you may unintentionally forget to say out loud. It also releases oxytocin, often called the ‘bonding’ hormone, which can stimulate a natural sense of trust and connection.Â To truly reap the benefits, you must be intentional about these moments and take your time. A quick peck as you run out the door is not the same as a 3-5 second kiss or 20-second hug which has demonstrated benefits to your relationship.
2. Use technology to increase the playfulness.Â It easy to blame our phones and laptops for keeping us apart but these devices can also bring you together.Â A quick text hello or a flirty message at lunchtime keeps your partner on their toes – in a good way.Â These messages are easy to send and they can infuse your day with a little unexpected novelty, which is something we all long for. It can also set the stage for conversation and connection when you are finally back together again.
3. Say thank-you.Â Itâs so easy to overlook all the little ways your partner makes your life better each day.Â The cup of coffee they make in the morning, making sure the trash went out, or an encouraging phone call before a big meeting or project can all be forgotten in the blink of an eye.Â Yet when someone makes us mad or lets us down, we humans are quick to point out what’s wrong.Â Saying thank you for the good stuff doesn’t just make your partner feel good, it helps you keep perspective.Â If you look for something to appreciate each day, you will find countless reasons for loving your partner.Â That reminder will keep you both happier in the long run.
By: Esther Boykin