Over the years of relationship counseling and coaching, I’ve compiled an extensive list of relationship tips to help clients deepen their connection by building trust and understanding. Here are ten of the most effective, tried-and-true relationship tips to help a fledgling relationship get back on track or to bolster an already healthy one.
1. Build Relationship Rituals.
The Gottman Institute recommends that couples discover rituals as a way of building stronger bonds and deepening emotional connections. Take some time to talk about the rituals that are most important to you and new ones that you’d like to introduce. Creating even small rituals like sharing the same appetizers at your favorite restaurant builds shared meaning, comfort and familiarity.
2. Learn to Validate.
Empathizing with your partner's emotions is one of the quickest ways to deepen your relationship. Validating your partner's emotions (“I can really hear you say that you’re frustrated by your boss’s expectation of working over the weekend") - will show your partner that you care and understand.
3. Support your partner's passion.
In the movie Bridesmaid's Chris O'Dowd's character (Police Officer Nathan) surprises Kristen Wigg (Annie) the morning after a romantic sleepover with an equally romantic gesture. Annie, a former cake store owner, has suppressed her love of baking since the disastrous close of her bakeshop.
Nathan, sensing Annie's dormant passion, surprises her by sneaking out to purchase essential ingredients to cake bake. Lining the counter with mixing bowls, spatulas, and ingredients, Nathan anticipates Annie's would-be-jubilant return to her favorite pastime.
Though his gesture fumbles in the film, Nathan beautifully illustrates how to support your partner's passion in real life.
4. Match your partner’s level of enthusiasm.
When your partner feels passionate about something cue in and respond with equal intensity.
Mirroring your partner’s strength of emotions is actually a form of validation.
If she exudes excitement for breaking her personal best in a 10 K road race (“I can’t believe I did it!”) ramp up your response accordingly (“What you’ve done is truly amazing, I am so proud!”).
5. Support your partner's platonic and familial relationships.
Science shows that strong social bonds are essential for emotional well-being.
So, encouraging your partner to sustain social connections with others (meeting a friend for coffee, participating in a book club) will enhance your partner's level of contentment.
Your partner will appreciate and feel loved and supported by your efforts to help her maintain relationships connections outside of your marriage/partnership.
6. Remind yourself of what drew you together in the first place.
When working with couples I love learning about what made the first sparks fly (the first thing I noticed was your amazing smile, etc.).
Revisiting those initial feelings often arouses those same old feelings with renewed appreciation and awareness.
7. Be Kind.
Venerated relationship researcher John Gottman, Ph.D, has found that stable couples display a ratio of five positive interactions to every one negative interaction or criticism. Based on these findings, he is able to predict a couple’s success with over 90% accuracy.
Increasing compliments, encouragement, validation, praise and support while decreasing negative comments and interactions will greatly increase the likelihood of relationship success.
Anything less than a 5:1 ratio may mean trouble on the horizon.
8. Spend time outdoors.
Since science is proving that time spent in nature can have a revitalizing effect, experiencing time outside together as a couple may bring an opportunity to bond in nature, decrease stress and help relish the moment.
The increased blood flow to the prefrontal cortex (the part of our brain responsible for mood and cognition) may also help gain emotional insight and perspective over any problems.
9. Speak your partner’s love language.
Learning your partner's love language may be the quickest way to deepen your emotional connection.
According to Gary Chapman, partners rarely speak the same language of love. Yours might be Physical Touch (holding hands, backrubs, etc.) while your partner's is Acts of Service (helpful acts like taking out the garbage, setting the table, etc.). Identifying and speaking your partner's love language will help your partner feel more loved and appreciated.
To learn how to identify love language go to http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/.
10. Soften your approach.
Beginning a confrontation or request harshly will put your partner on the defensive.
Use “I” statements and avoid blame. Start by politely stating the facts, using “I” statements, and avoiding blame and appraisals.
“You promised to empty the dishwasher two days ago and now I have no room to put these filthy dishes piled up in the sink!” becomes, “The dishwasher is still full from two days ago I feel frustrated because you promised to empty it.”
Mary Delaney is a licensed psychotherapist. Her areas of interest include Healing Childhood Emotional Neglect, Finding True Purpose, Relationships, the Creative Personality, and Long-Term Recovery. For more information go to www.creativecorecounseling.com