Life is busy and it's easy to end up taking your relationship for granted. Here are six tips to help and revitalize your relationship.
1. Track Your Ratio of Positive vs. Negative Interactions.
Research by Dr John Gottman has shown that happy couples have at least 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction.
When relationships sour, it's often the positive bond and interactions between the partners that decrease first, before conflictual interactions increase.
Positive bond and interactions are essential for any sense of being a team. You won't have any motivation to work together on improving the relationship if you don't have this sense.
Try tracking your ratio of positive to negative interactions for one week. Or, you could try just tracking for 2 weekdays and 1 weekend day.
Why it'll help instantly: Tracking anything tends to result in improvements just because it increases self-awareness.
2. Say something positive first when you see each other at the end of the work day.
For example, tell your partner something that went right in your day, before you tell them about anything that went wrong.
Intimate relationships should be a source social support but shouldn't be a dumping ground for all your stress.
3. Reinstate fun interactions that have faded.
Playfulness is a great way to boost positive emotions. Try thinking about fun activities you used to do as a couple and ways you used to be playful with each other that have faded.
Find creative ways to express your fun side. Self-generated humor generally has more benefits than passively consuming humor. Express fun in whatever way is natural to you.
4. Do a project together.
Doing novel and challenging activities together strengthens relationship bonds. Try working on a project together.
The project should be something you're both interested in and that's new to both of you i.e., there shouldn't be one expert/teacher and one student.
5. Find out things you don't know about your partner.
For example, ask them about their most embarrassing and proudest moments from their childhood, their favorite books when they were a child, their first crush, or what they know about their birth/their Mom's pregnancy. Knowing these details of your partner's life helps create a sense of intimacy and communicates interest and caring.
6. Practice perspective taking.
Most of us have a tendency to be self-absorbed and see situations primarily from our own perspective. Try this simple exercise to counteract this tendency.
Exercise: Write about a topic of disagreement from three perspectives: (1) your perspective, (2) your partner's perspective, and (3) a neutral observer's perspective.
Set the timer on your phone and write from each perspective for 3 minutes (for a total of 9 minutes).
This is a variation of one of favorite techniques from the relationship self-help book Reconcilable Differences. This book is based on a type of couples therapy called Integrative Behavioral Couples Therapy (IBCT) that has been tested in research studies.
If you liked this article
If you liked this article, you'll probably like these 3 articles -
1. 50 Characteristics of Healthy Relationships - You can use this article as a self-test of areas for potential relationship improvement, or just to congratulate yourself on the closeness of your bond with your partner.
2. 10 Ways Relationships Help Individuals Grow
3. 8 Questions to Help You Appreciate Your Relationship
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