In my recent Valentine’s Day video, I encouraged people to take a little time to really look at the relationship they have with their spouse or partner. Do you spend time connecting with your partner every day? Do you communicate on a regular basis? The overarching goal of this communication is to find out what your partner needs from you—and what you need from your partner. Of course, this can only take place when the door to communication is wide open. Trouble is, that door often gets closed, and that’s when any relationship can go south.
Between busy work schedules, taking care of the kids and everyday tasks like meal preparation, it’s easy to think you simply don’t have time to communicate. But that way of thinking could lead your marriage down a slippery slope that is doomed for destruction. Instead, take some time to renew your relationship. Here are a few things to help you get started.
- Talk—really talk. Let’s face it. Our daily lives quickly turn into routines, and it feels like a constant struggle to stay ahead of the next task or commitment. Instead, set aside some time each day to openly engage in conversation with your partner. While it may be necessary to discuss your child’s performance in school or who’s going to take out the trash, try to move the conversation beyond the mundane to a topic that focuses on you as a couple.
- Unplug. It’s difficult for any worthwhile conversation to take place when one or both parties is preoccupied with a smart phone, tablet or other device. So turn them off, and give the other person in the room your undivided attention.
- Be kind. When was the last time you unexpectedly offered to make your spouse a cup of coffee or something quick to eat? As you race through the day, don’t overlook opportunities to bestow random acts of kindness on the person you’re sharing life with.
- Break away from the ordinary. If you’re in a date-night rut, try something new. Instead of dinner and a movie, visit the zoo or attend an unforgettable concert. Even better, learn a new skill together—like dancing, painting or brewing your own beer.
- Find out what’s new. Each day, it’s important to find out what’s happening in your spouse’s world. You don’t have to dwell on the finer points, but show you care by taking the time to ask. Then, be sure to listen.
- Laugh.Chances are, you and your spouse find humor in many of the same things. It may be part of what attracted you to each other in the first place. Rekindle that humor by sharing funny stories or watching entertaining shows and movies. Never underestimate the power of laughter, which may be life’s best medicine. It helps you relax, and it releases endorphins, which can boost your immune system. So, go ahead; use laughter to heal your marriage.
- Talk about the past. If you’ve been together for any length of time, you probably have plenty of memorable times in your past. Relive that funny incident that neither of you will ever forget. Or talk about special moments that you both cherish. The act of remembering will help you reconnect.
This February, take some time to open the lines of communication between you and your spouse or partner. Investing a little time now will help to ensure that your relationship is here for the long haul. Happy Valentine’s Day!
David Lowenstein, Ph.D. is a psychologist and the clinical director of Lowenstein & Associates, Inc. in Columbus, Ohio. In addition to providing therapeutic services to individuals and families, he offers training and consultation to numerous associations, schools and agencies around the country. Additionally, he is a frequent radio and TV guest and a resource and contributing writer for numerous newspapers and magazines nationwide. Contact Dr. David Lowenstein at 691 South Fifth Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43206 or by phone at 614.443.6155 or 614.444.0432.