Every relationship faces highs and lows, the small things that at the start of a relationship were cute and quirky can become annoying or irritating with time.
Life’s daily routines, unexpected struggles, and everyday stress can take their toll on our relationships. When the honeymoon period is over and real life kicks into gear it can be easy to forget that relationships actually take a lot of hard work and effort to maintain. Reality is not like fairy tales portray it to be, and that is not necessarily a bad thing, the energy required to nurture our relationships is also what nurtures us as people and helps us to grow.
Not all of our efforts have to be hard, when it comes to relationships one thing that helps is to stay focused on your partners positive qualities, and to strengthen your bond whenever you can. It is too easy to get caught up in negativity, and we often lose sight of all those simple things that we love so much about one another, as well as the little things that make our relationships great.
Simple Suggestions for a Stronger Relationship:
An Exercise in Appreciation
Being thankful is an excellent way to invite and encourage positivity in all aspects of your life, relationships are no different. I preach about the power of gratitude all the time on this site, and I can not stress enough the impact it can have on your relationship. In the chaos of daily life it is easy to ignore our words, especially when it comes to the way we interact with our partner. When was the last time you told your partner how much you truly appreciate them? I don’t mean a simple “Thank-you” I mean a real from the heart conversation about how much they have added to your life. Chances are it has been a while, if at all.
Appreciation is something that every one of us craves, it is what drives human beings to be better people and to go out of their way to help others. We often feel under appreciated by those who are closest to us because when we get comfortable with someone we feel less of a need to reassure them of our gratitude. It is a strange concept that we are more likely to say thank you to a stranger in the supermarket then our own spouse, but it is true. We often feel as if the people closest to us should know we care simply through our actions, and in a sense it is true, but hearing real words of appreciation always feels good. Think about the last time someone thanked you, it probably felt really good. What if you could have that same good feeling on a daily basis? Well, you can. Make the choice to openly share your appreciation more as a couple and you can constantly bask in that glorious feeling.
How to do this:
There are a number of ways to show your appreciation to your partner, one of my favorite ways is the three things game. Each day make a point to share three things you appreciate about one another, it can be small things or big things, whatever comes to mind at the time. Perhaps your hubby took the trash out without being asked, or maybe he loosened the lid on the peanut butter jar, be sure to show you appreciation for this small act or any others at least three times a day. Once you start sharing all the things that you are thankful for you will find there are many more there to appreciate.
Laugh a Little.
Laughter really is the best medicine and when we are having trouble at home, or feel stressed out in our daily lives this is usually the first area that suffers. Make a point to laugh more often with your partner and watch your bond grow. Laughter releases endorphins and helps us to connect with others, it can bring you closer to your partner and ease tensions that have lingered in your life.
How to do this:
The key to this process is to use laughter in a positive way that you can both enjoy. Do not use laughter to cover up other emotions or hide real issues, instead use it as a tool for you both to unwind. Take time each week to watch a funny movie or visit a comedy club, tell jokes to one another, and poke fun at something that is funny for both of you. You can use humor to defuse conflict when possible, but be sure it is humorous for both of you and being used at appropriate times. The point is to have fun together and share a laugh, without it being at anyone’s expense.
Brag About It.
Bragging is often seen in a negative light, but in reality bragging can be a useful tool when it comes to your relationship. Women especially are known for our overactive vocal chords, and we usually run to our closest friends in order to dissect something that our partner has done wrong. This tactic may seem to help, and will often make us feel better temporarily but it is not a long-term solution and often leads to negative thinking in the future. Sure, discussing your issues with another person can help bring them into perspective, but too often (and rightfully so) our friends are simply taking our side. This act of solidity is a sign of a great friend, but it is not helping your relationship in any way at all.
How to do this:
Instead of calling up Sally every time your husband forgets to put the toilet seat down, burns breakfast, or doesn’t notice your new haircut, call her every time that he says something nice, or does something right. Bragging about your spouse is not meant to make others envious, and it is not meant to be a means of pretending that life is great. What bragging does is get our minds focused on the positive aspects of our partner that are so easy to forget or neglect. Make a point of biting your tongue about the negative things you are feeling, and like the exercise above, share your appreciation instead.
Amp Up Affections.
By affection I do not necessarily mean sex, although the benefits of sex on your relationship are many, I am talking more about the effects that a simple touch can have on your partner. Even the slightest touch can have an effect on a person, in fact there are studies that show gently touching your partner’s hand while you are speaking to one another can greatly increase the feeling of connection and actually improve overall listening.
How to do this:
This activity can be done anywhere, anytime and often. It is a great way to strengthen an already strong bond, or cultivate one that has struggled. Your touch should not be invasive, and should come naturally, this is especially important in relationships where physical contact has been lacking for extended periods. Focus on small caring gestures in these cases such as, a hand resting on a forearm, brushing a thigh, or resting on your partner’s hand during conversation. When things progress or you feel comfortable move forward to a loving embrace, or a back rub. These simple, non-sexual acts can build a connection over time which will eventually lead back to the bedroom in a relationship that has been astray of sexual activity for a while. This is not foolproof and will not repair underlying issues, but it can help to build a connection when coupled with the correct forms of therapy or other connective acts.
The old saying ‘you must love yourself before you can truly love another‘ is a statement that holds a deep truth. Without first being comfortable with ourselves we will never be in the right place to be comfortable with another person. Confidence can have a huge impact on your relationship. When you are not feeling good about yourself it tends to reflect on your partner. If you are feeling down on yourself it is important that you take time to nurture yourself before you will be able to nurture your relationship.
A note on this:
I will not say, “how to do this” because it differs from person to person and varies depending on the inner issues at play, but there are many ways you can work on your own confidence if it is simply mild discomfort you are suffering from. Take time to do things that make you happy, spend time with people who make you feel good, and take up hobbies that you enjoy. Take care of yourself, and pamper yourself when you are feeling down.
These are all very basic ideas and will only help in mild cases. If you feel that you are suffering from a deep lack of self-confidence or depression of any kind it is important that you seek outside help. It is also important that you share these thoughts and feelings with your partner in order to gain the support you need. It might seem scary but remember this is the person you love, and the one you have chosen to share your life with on some level. Chances are your partner does not know what you are feeling and is just as confused as you are, or perhaps is feeling as if they are to blame for your overall unhappiness. Open up to those who are closest to you, share your need for support and your true emotions. Seek help from a professional, and do not be afraid.
What are some of the ways that you connect with your partner when life seems to get in the way? How do you use positivity to enhance your relationship?
Until Next Time…
Love Deeply, Passionately, and Positively.