Reconnecting with Your Partner
It can happen to any couple – the day-to-day stresses of balancing work, kids, pets, doctor appointments, book clubs and so much more leaves us with little to give at the end of the day. It’s no surprise that many couples, whether they’ve been together for months or decades, can find themselves in a rut. The magic and excitement from your relationship seems to have all but vanished. Affection can feel like a chore, and conversation can be focused on logistics – what time you will both be home, who will vacuum, how you will pay for that unexpected medical bill.
As time goes on in a relationship, the little things that connected you in the beginning go by the wayside and it is not abnormal to feel disconnected from your partner. Over time, this feeling can cause more than just frustration in a relationship. It can cause real damage and lead to arguments and animosity, among other things.
To help keep your relationship healthy, here are a few things that can help you reconnect with your partner, strengthen your relationship, and remember why you fell in love in the first place.
1. Schedule date nights
It might seem like there is no time or energy available to even consider having regular date nights with your spouse, especially if you have kids and getting a sitter seems impossible or not worth the hassle. But, finding a routine of going on a date (even just to get coffee or go for a walk) once a week can make a huge difference in your bond with your partner. Having time for just the two of you has been shown to help strengthen relationships, specifically for couples who are married with children.
2. Institute a daily check-in
We know – this sounds a little hokey, but bear with us. Making space each morning or evening to check in with your partner can have long-term benefits. Little annoyances are less likely to stack up and turn into bigger problems. A daily check-in doesn’t have to look the same every day and doesn’t have to be a chore (i.e. you don’t have to literally say “time to check in!”).
Rather, you can say one thing you appreciate about the other that day, offer up some positive information about your day to one another, ask your spouse about something that has bothered or puzzled you, or make a non-judgmental and complaint-free request (such as “Could you please help by folding the towels when you do the laundry?”). However you choose to check in, make sure you’re doing so in a way that is helpful for your relationship, not a further hindrance.
3. Take a day off together
This one is self-explanatory. Sometimes playing planned hooky can add some much-needed excitement, romance, and together time to your relationship.
4. Give your partner a gift
Giving and receiving gifts feels good, even if it’s something small. While gift giving doesn’t come naturally to some people, getting into the habit of giving your partner gifts has major benefits for your relationship. There is much research backing how much gift giving can strengthen a relationship. Not only are you actively thinking about your partner, you are expressing that love and thought in a tangible way. In the long and short term, the act of giving gifts to your partner adds richness and value to your relationship, and can help you reconnect if you’ve drifted apart.
5. Disconnect for a night
Just the presence of smartphones, tablets, laptops, television, and any other gizmo that keeps us constantly connected to the outside world can wreak havoc in our relationships. The use of electronic devices can mute your connection with your partner and family, and actually lead to increased stress in the home. Turning off all devices for an evening can give you an opportunity to truly connect with your spouse (and family), which can lead to improved happiness and satisfaction. Even better: establish one device-free night per week where you will be able to be present and spend quality time with your partner.
6. Give each other space
Absence makes the heart grow fonder. This is true in even the longest of relationships. Giving your partner time and space to do something they love, like reading a book, taking a bubble bath, spending time with friends, or watching a game is one of the best gifts you can give your partner and your relationship. When you and your partner are able to recharge, you are able to be your best self to each other, creating an overall healthier relationship dynamic. The trick is to making sure this is even and that both partners are getting time to themselves.
7. Cheer on your partner
One of the most important ways to stay connected to your spouse is to celebrate their victories and encourage their goals and aspirations any chance you get. In fact, experts suggest that encouraging your partner is one of the most important things you can do for your relationship. There are plenty of people in our lives who aren’t cheering us on, and being able to be that support for your partner inherently strengthens your connection. Some ways to do this are looking for the positive in your spouse, developing a sense of humor and giving honest, specific praise, and describing what you appreciate about your partner.
~ Written by Chelsea Fristoe, Coastal Center for Collaborative Health blog writer