Have you wondered how you can strengthen your relationship? There is no magic to having a successful, loving relationship; there is conscious effort. We’ve all heard that relationships take work to succeed. That doesn’t sound like fun, does it? I’d like to share several tips that can include fun AND will greatly improve your chances of having the relationship you want and deserve.
- Learn to think before you speak. The words we use can either strengthen or destroy. In an argument, if you say something meant to hurt, there is no “redo” button. There is no quicker way to sabotage a relationship than saying something awful that can be replayed in your partner’s head over and over. You know your loved one better than most. Stay within the bounds of respect and choose your words carefully.
- Say thank you. Many of us don’t feel appreciated in our jobs, but there is nothing worse than feeling unappreciated at home. If your partner does little things that make your life easier, take the time to express how good that makes you feel. If you are the one feeling unappreciated, it is not selfish for you to let her/him know that you are feeling that way. Sometimes we get lazy about realizing how powerful just saying thank you and showing gratitude is.
- Take self-nurturing time-outs. Feeling smothered in a relationship is never fun. The expectation that you can’t or won’t do things that bring you joy will suck whatever positivity there is out of a relationship. Some women I’ve spoken with have a fear that pursuing separate interests is the first step in growing apart from their partner. It’s just the opposite. Having the time and opportunity to do things apart can bring new energy into your relationship. When you are BOTH getting your independent needs met, you’ll be happier together.
- Share your dreams. Feeling like you are safe to share your dreams is very important in building intimacy in a relationship. Many of these thoughts are fragile and the urge to want to protect them can be strong. Ideally, you want to feel comfortable sharing them without having someone automatically criticize or condemn them. If you believe your relationship is lacking meaningful conversation, ask yourself if you have a tendency to “poo poo” or play devil’s advocate, instead of being curious and supportive when someone shares their dreams with you.
- Continue getting to know each other. It’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be more open to change and adventure than the other. If your partner talks about something unknown to you that he/she finds interesting, instead of letting it get in your way, approach it with curiosity. Remember that just because your partner wants to do something, it doesn’t mean you have to jump in. They may be looking for your support, not your participation. Enjoy and acknowledge the new things you discover about the person you love.
- Drop the need to be right and apologize when you’re wrong. I have a feeling there are quite of few of us who have found ourselves in an argument about who was right and who was wrong over some trivial detail in some trivial story. It is so easy to get caught up in the cycle of choosing to be right over being happy. The best way to break it is to simply ask yourself, “How important is this, REALLY?” Most of the time the answer is that it’s NOT important. Additionally, if you have discovered that you are mistaken, there is no greater way to diffuse an argument than to say, “I’m sorry – I was wrong.”. Why is that SO hard to own up to? I believe that many people see admitting fault as a weakness. In a strong relationship the ability to say I’m sorry is a great strength. Next time you are in a right/wrong situation, think about what choice you’re making when you engage in an argument about what color the car is!
- Make time for playtime. When your relationship becomes all about the bills and obligations, it’s well past the time for you to wake up and take action. Don’t wait for the perfect time to get-away or say, “when things slow down at work we’ll…”. If you don’t make your relationship as much a priority (or more!) as your job, you may find yourself with a nice paycheck and an empty chair beside you. Having fun creates a bond and wonderful memories. Schedule it into your day, every day. Carve out a block of time and pick something you LOVE to do together. It could be taking the road less travelled and having a day of exploration. Whatever it is that makes you smile and puts the twinkle in your eye, go for it!
These are seven meaningful ways to engage and bring you and your partner closer. If much of this feels new to you, why not print this out and talk about it together? People who have been happily together for years have learned and incorporated these tips into their relationships – so can you!
Contact me to talk about how relationship coaching can help. firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-699-4244