Every relationship has its ups and downs. It can be really difficult to navigate life with another person. Perhaps the two of you have been bickering more often or fighting over everything and nothing. Maybe you aren’t feeling connected to your partner. Whatever issue is going on, this blog is for you!
Whenever I see a couple for therapy, I begin by looking into four major areas that are actually quite easy to identify and improve within your relationship.
Love Languages: There are five major ways we show and feel love. These languages include 1) quality time spent together, 2) acts of service, 3) words, 4) gifts and 5) physical touch. Perhaps your love language is words but your partner’s language is acts of service. You may need to express your need to hear your partner tell you they love you. However, for your partner, all the “I love you’s” in the world won’t matter, because they feel loved through your actions. By understanding this, you might not feel as obligated to cook dinner every night, but rather see this as an opportunity to show your partner how much you love them. The key is knowing your language, and your partner’s.
Communicating needs and expectations: This one often goes hand in hand with #1. Once you know your love languages, it will be important to tell each other what you need from them. We often expect one another to know what we are thinking or expecting, and this can lead to conflict. Sometimes we really have to spell out what we expect from the other person. This is especially important for couples going through a transition (moving in together, getting married, expecting a baby, etc). Setting some guidelines, rules and expectations can prevent conflict.
Dating: Just to clarify, this is not a pass to freedom…I am talking about dating each other! When is the last time you went out on a date? A real true, ask each other out, get all fresh and ready, open the car door and be on best behavior date. Compliments don't hurt either. Continuing to date each other throughout the entire relationship is key to feeling connecting to one another. When couples get comfortable in their relationship, dating is often the first thing they stop doing. It is so important to keep this aspect of your relationship alive. It eliminates outside distractions and allows you to focus on each other. It keeps the excitement and spice alive.
Remember what you fell in love with. Many times, the same thing that once drew you to your significant other is now the very thing that drives you crazy! Once attracted to his motivation and work ethic, now annoyed by the fact that he works late during the week. Once attracted to her fiery spirit and independence, now annoyed when she doesn’t want to sit at home with you on a Friday night. Tap into the beginning of your relationship and learn to cherish your differences and the things that once drew you to each other. Keep an open mind and remember all the reasons you love each other. Focus on the good just as much (if not more!) than the not-so-good.