Let’s face it; during the stress of your busy day, it’s easy to take each other and your relationship for granted. Yet, would you really be happier on your own? Do you actually want to shop around and start all over again? Do you believe things will be different a few years down the road with another person? Unless things are especially bad, probably not. Make an intention and a solid attempt to reconnect with the person you are with today.
Can you remember whom you fell in love with in the first place? Below are 8 practices I recommend for reconnecting to the feelings you had when you first met.
1. Create a morning ritual. What is the first thing you do in the morning when you open your eyes? This is a perfect time to consciously connect with your partner. You might ask them how they slept or how they feel and talk about the day ahead. Maybe you snuggle in a little closer, and exchange one thing you appreciate about each other. Out of bed, sharing a cup of tea or coffee while reading a passage or page in a shared book, walking, meditating or doing yoga together are fabulous morning practices to start your day.
2. Make regular time to take care of yourself. Many of us have been taught to take care of our spouse and family first. If so, you may be collapsing “selfish” with “self care”. Think of your body as a “vessel” and your partner and/or family as “cups”. Trying to fill the cups from an empty vessel usually brings up feelings of resentment, frustration and martyr. Only after your needs have been met and your heart is full can you graciously give to others from a place of love.
3. Schedule regular times to communicate. This can be mealtime, a regular walk, or just a time to sit together. Make this time a priority without excuses or interruptions. Put together some rules you both agree on such as not answering the phone or multi-tasking. Give each other a specific amount of time to talk (say 5 minutes) with out interruption and really listen to what your partner has to say. After they are complete, reflect back what you heard them say. Beginning your next sentence with, “What I heard you say is….” Reflecting your interpretation helps your partner to feel heard and respected. From here you can state your thoughts, feelings and beliefs in an “I” statement (see next).
4. Use “I” statements in your communication. It’s good to talk about how you feel and what you want as long as you take full responsibility for your own feelings, thoughts and actions. Your partner cannot make you feel a certain way. They may trigger something inside of you but no one has the power to control your emotions. Using “I” statements such as “I feel…” rather than, “You make me feel…” are respectful for both yourself and your partner.
5. Make time in your relationship to have fun! What is fun for the two of you? What did you do together when you first met? Turn off the T.V. and light a candle at dinner. Go on a date. Play a game. Walk together in nature. Read together. Dance. Laugh out loud. Schedule regular time together (like every Friday). Don’t wait for “later”. “Later” never happens.
6. Be 100% honest. Lies and non-truths erode trust in a relationship. Without trust, you have no foundation to build a strong relationship upon. Do you keep secrets? Do you tell “white-lies”? Do you have a behavior you are ashamed of? This could be in the form of addictions…shopping, food, gambling, pornography, or alcohol to name a few. If you want more passion and connection in your marriage it’s time to address the “dark lover”. Talk about it with your partner and feel your love and connection expand.
7. Forgive yourself and/or your partner for the past. Do you hold pockets of guilt for something you did? Do you find yourself reliving old stories, continuing to play the blame/victim game? It’s time to forgive and move on. Your lack of forgiveness, whether for your self or for your partner is the choice not to change, keeping your relationship small and disempowered. Stop the drama and move on.
8. Make your bedroom a place just for the two of you. Your bedroom is not a place for T.V., exercise equipment, an office or photos of children and family. Keep it intimate. Keep it sacred. Keep it only for nurturing your relationship.
Just like anything in your life, your relationship needs attention and nurturing to survive and thrive. Give one or more of these practices a try this week. You’ll be glad you did.