1. Check-in – Most people will agree that the heightened excitement in the beginning of a relationship eventually settles into a more comfortable intimacy as the “newness” wears off. Once you reach that comfortable stage, relationships tend to go on autopilot. Energy is put into children, work, and social obligations instead of into each other. We tend to assume we know what our partner is thinking, what makes them happy, sad, and angry. Things change. People change. Do you like everything you did a year ago? Not necessarily and chances are your partner doesn’t either. Without consistent check-ins, your relationship can suffer: you may feel disconnected from your partner or feel that your relationship is no longer fulfilling, and you’re not quite sure how it got that way.
To do : TALK to your partner-make them a priority. Take time to ask “How are you?”; “How are you feeling?”; “How are we doing?”; “What upsets you?”; “What makes you happy?” Doing this strengthens your connection, makes your partner feel special and nips any issues in the bud.
2. Tell your partner something they did well – It’s not surprising that what goes wrong seems to have more of an impact on us that what goes well. Research shows that negative emotions are more easily retrieved from our brains and stick with us longer than positive emotions. In other words, we have to work harder to remember the good. Put in the extra effort-make it a point to tell your partner something they did well or something you appreciate about them. Doing this will increase feelings of affection and esteem. Plus, it will pay off for you because reinforcing your partner’s good behavior guarantees you’ll get more of it.
To do: Communicate what you like about your partner such as “That really helped”; “I appreciate what you did for me”; “You’re such a hard worker”; “That made me happy”; “What a good idea”. This will improve your communication, make your partner feel good about themselves and reinforce positive actions and emotions.
3. Shake things up – You’ve been together for awhile and have your routine down to a science. While structure is often efficient and comforting, the cost is a loss of spontaneity. What’s so good about spontaneity? Well, it triggers the excitement hormones in your brain: dopamine, pheromones and serotonin. These are the chemicals responsible for the “falling in love” feeling. To release a torrent of those hormones, do something unexpected.
To do: Plan a surprise. Pick an activity neither one of you has done before. Be creative in the bedroom-let your partner know that you’d like to try something you are curious about. Doing this will inject some excitement and freshness into your relationship, stirring up interest for both of you.
For more relationship advice, visit www.chappelltherapy.com