Many adults search for the recipe to build a lasting and loving relationship. Upon becoming parents, it is very easy to put your love life on hold in order to nurture and raise your children. Think about what an incredible amount of energy you spend everyday running between the grocery store, library and sports practices. By the time your partner is home or available to talk about the day, your systems are shutting off from mental, physical and emotional exhaustion.
Amidst being a good parent, running your household and your job, it may be difficult to know how to nurture your relationship. Whether you’re looking to rejuvenate your romance or just reinforce your bond, there are a few ingredients to add that keep your relationship exciting and energized for a lifetime.
Show you’re committed:
There’s more to demonstrating commitment than vowing to live your lives together. Don’t use excuses such as, “I’m tired,” or the lack of a babysitter to cancel dinner reservations or avoid time together. If you can’t find a sitter for your ‘date night,’ have an intimate barbeque on the deck after the kids have gone to bed. Showing your commitment to spending time together reinforces your commitment to each other, and tells your partner that he is a priority.
Love as if you just met:
When you first became a couple, you’d take the time to compliment each other and worked to fall in love with each other. When you dated, you shared hobbies, interests and a passion to be together. You surprised each other with flowers, a favorite meal or special outing. While these actions built your relationship, the memories of them alone will not sustain it. Put forth the same effort now that you did when you were dating, and you’ll infuse your connection with the freshness of a young romance.
Establish your expectations:
Your partner needs to know if you feel you need more out of your relationship. Remember that you’re not coupled with a mind reader! Discuss what each of you wants in and from your coupling, instead of assuming you both are on exactly the same wavelength. Revaluate your mutual goals and interest for your relationship periodically to make sure you’re both running through life on the same track.
Be partners as well as parents:
Because family life commands a great deal of attention, many couples don’t know what to talk about unless they’re discussing their children. They lose the individuality that once blended together to form their union. Take a class or read the same book together to nurture each other’s minds and spirits as adult partners. Designate a ‘no kids’ talk time to discuss expectations for your relationship, your career or your life as a whole.
It is unrealistic to expect one person to solely fulfill every area of your life. Balancing work, social situations and personal time equally as well as with time with your mate will actually enhance your relationship. The time spent to enjoy a movie or golfing with friends contributes to a complete emotional happiness that you can share together.
Dr John Gottman, PhD of The Gottman Institute notes that happy and successful couples know how to exit an argument — and how to repair the situation before an argument gets out of control. He suggests that you avoid resorting to ‘hitting below the belt’ in an argument. Drawing deliberate and hurtful comparisons or dredging up mean spirited topics that are unrelated to the current disagreement just to be spiteful is completely unproductive. Gottman recommends that if an argument gets too heated, take a 20-minute break, and agree to approach the topic again when you are both calm.
Go to bed together:
We’ve all had evenings where it feels as though you could stay awake for hours catching up on tasks or a favorite television show. Oddly enough, those are often the same nights your partner is ready for bed right after clearing the dinner table. Even if only one of you are tired and the other wants to watch TV, always go to bed together. If you’re having trouble going to sleep you can always read or practice meditating to relax.
Make small talk:
Small talk often sparks a dialogue that may lead to meaningful conversations; however there are always days that deplete your energy and talking together becomes an exerting chore. Asking leading questions such as, “So, what was the most stressful part of your day?” tells your partner that even though you need some tender loving care, you’re also interested in his day.
Listen to each other:
More than 75 percent of adults in couples therapy feel their partners do not hear them. Stimulate listening to each other by reading poetry, the newspaper or a favorite book to each other. Learning to listen to each other in casual scenarios increases your capability to listen to teach other during a disagreement, important discussion or dinner time chatter.
Share a positive outlook:
Change a negative aspect of your relationship with a positive suggestion. “I love when we laugh.” sets a more pleasant tone than, “We never have fun together anymore.” You’ll let your partner know you miss spending ‘fun’ time together without causing them to be defensive.
There’s no better time to begin reinforcing the bond between you and your sweetie than right now. It’s never too soon to have more love in your life!