Everywhere I turn my friends are navigating choppy waters in their most intimate relationships. This makes my heart hurt, but I can relate. Lately, my husband and I have been feeling out of sync and stressed out from parenting our wonderful, intense teenager (wow, can raising a teen test your marriage!). We went for a walk this past Sunday and realized it’s time to pause, spend some energy on “us” and call in all the tools/support we need to remind us we’re on the same team.
Here are a few ideas for reconnecting with your partner in daily life:
Block out time for self-renewal just like you would schedule a dentist’s appointment. One night a week schedule a “solo date,” or time alone getting your needs met, whether that’s dinner with a friend or attending a yoga class alone. Then you’ll be able to fully enjoy and feel more generous and loving during your time with your spouse.
Make a habit to stay physically connected to your partner whenever you see him or her in thoughtful, easy ways: hugs and kisses in the morning and at the end of the day, quick neck or shoulder massages, gentle arm touches, holding hands. Physicality increases our emotional connection. I love my friend John Howard’s work on the neurobiology of relationships.
Partners don’t always agree. That’s okay, but when our emotions get heated, we can say and do things we later regret. Recognize your limits and when you’re triggered give yourself a “quiet break” to reflect and re-frame. Also, be mindful of what you know sets you off or upsets your partner and avoid it. Imago work and The Five Love Languages are great resources here.
Make sure your partner knows what’s going on with you on all fronts by telling him or her. If you have a particularly challenging day or week ahead, and you may need some extra support and TLC, give your partner a heads-up. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a coach/therapist or mentor if you need help seeing the 30,000 foot view.
A feng-shui consultant once asked me when walking into our bedroom, “Where are the pictures of you and your husband?” Great point. Carefully choose for your bedroom items you love and cherish that celebrate your union: special photos of you and your partner, meaningful artwork, a marriage intention statement, etc. Also, try to keep your bedroom a toy and media-free zone. Make it a space solely for relaxation, intimacy, sleep and connection.
At a minimum, take ten minutes at the end of each day to take turns sharing the highs and lows of your day, anticipating tomorrow, and asking for what you might need. Saying, “Three things I need from our relationship now are . . .” is a simple but powerful request. Your needs will change depending on the time of the year, your life stage and if you have kids. Also, try my friend Tanya’s strategy; she shares: “We like to take long, hot baths together after the kids are in bed — try staying mad when you’re covered in bubbles!”
Written by Renee Peterson Trudeau for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.