Build a Stronger Love With These 10 Tips
Think of your relationship as a garment you want to last a lifetime. To keep it looking and feeling great, you would strengthen the seams, mend any small rips, and avoid damage to the fabric.
Here are 10 ways to help refresh, reinforce and repair your relationship. And they work. All are backed by research!
1) Show You Care When You Argue
Conflict doesn’t have to damage your love. There’s a tipping point, though. Studies show that couples who stay happy together show at least 5 times more positive signs to their partner than negative ones when they argue.
The ‘magic ratio’ is 5:1. For every 1 negative exchange (especially in conflict), at least 5 positive things happen for couples who stay happy after fighting.
The math comes from Dr. John Gottman. Among other things, he counted positive and negative interactions between couples during a disagreement. When he compared couples who stayed together with those who divorced later, he found the couples who stayed together happily also infused their disagreements with positive gestures toward each other, with phrases like, “This is hard,” or a smile, gentle touch, or kind gesture.
The takeaway: Happy couples weave more positive exchanges between them than bad-feeling ones.
2) Handle each other with kindness.
Kindness strengthens the seams and fabric of your relationship.
What most people want is a partner who is accessible, responsive and engaged.
Let your partner know you are really there for them, in small and large ways.
Kindness adds strength to the bond between you, as you weave it in, day after day.
3) Stop, look and appreciate.
No one feels appreciated enough. Give appreciation freely and often.
List six things you are especially drawn to, admire, are grateful for in your partner.
Write them down.
Post your list on the bathroom mirror for your partner to discover. Or put it in a card. Or share it in your favorite way!
4) Explore something together.
Do things you enjoy, together. If you don’t have many interests in common, keep exploring until you find one.
Do unexpected nice things, like filling up the car.
Offer something personal like the gift of curiosity, saying “tell me more about. . . .”
Ask about your partner’s interest, favorite team, activities, the book he or she is reading.
Smile when your partner comes in the room.
Meet your partner’s gaze.
Tell your partner that he or she’s your hero, often.
6) Catch the loose threads.
Know how to say “I’m sorry.”
Nobody is perfect. It’s more important to act while the tear is small.
Make sure that your partner really feels heard. Show that his or her discomfort, hurt or fear matters to you. To show you are listening, say, “You might be right about that,” or “That could work.” Try to be flexible.
For example, after a conflict about your partner’s family, find a positive to say truthfully: “One thing I’ve always liked about your family is….”
Our counselors provide caring, confidential and effective therapy for couples, families, adults and children.
7) Offer care and comfort.
When your partner is worn down or burdened, find out why. Ask and listen to your partner’s story. Name the discomfort: “I can see how sad / angry / frustrated that makes you.”
If you feel helpless, show how you wish you could support your partner through imagination: Offer to kick the shins of her office enemy (hypothetically of course).
Offer back rubs or foot rubs. Get off the phone. Be silly or romantic. Be there. Your presence is more comforting than you know.
8) Avoid damage to the fabric of your relationship.
Don’t court old flames.
If you must work long hours, make sure your partner knows that your relationship comes first.
Be teammates, not competitors.
Imagine a protective circle of commitment and safety around you both, like a stain proof
Even when life is a struggle, be each other’s haven, champion, lover, foo-fighter, cheerleader, guardian.
9) Give airtime to the thoughts in the closet.
You may ask yourself: What quality and amount of attention do I need in this relationship?
Does my partner need the same amount as I do?
As yourself: What will help us turn toward each other instead of an outside influence that may tear us apart?
Know that marriages and long-term relationships have predictable rough spots.
These often come when children are born, when a job or career must change, or when children grow and launch their own lives.
Learn to feel your own deeper feelings, name them and share them, respectfully.
10) Mend any tears.
What if the garment rips?
Watch out for a pattern of criticism, defensiveness, contempt or stonewalling. If you find dissatisfaction, emotional starvation or withdrawal creeping in, it might be time to call in the master tailors!
Mount Vernon Family Therapy offers couples retreats and counseling, based on Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). This approach helps couples improve their connection and mend the more troubling gaps in their relationship.
Results show that couples using EFT tools succeed in restoring a loving positive relationship, up to 80% of the time.
We love to help couples create healing, deeper, more intimate relationships.
Working with couples is our specialty.
To explore how we can work with you: 703-768-6240 www.MountVernonTherapy.com