We could go on and on about all the things you don’t like about your relationship — all the things your partner shouldn’t be doing. But, as one of my gurus used to say, “Stop 'shoulding' on yourself.” Instead, get busy!
Here are 10 quick relationship fixes you can count on.
No, seriously. Be quiet. We talk too much. All of us do. We can all learn to be better listeners. Tune in. Ask questions. Do you really know what’s going on in your partner’s life?
Read more: How to talk so your partner will listen>
Even if you’re not into it, have sex. Why? Well, here’s the thing: Chances are you’ll get into it. Even if you don’t, sex (even cuddling) stimulates the release of the pituitary hormone oxytocin. Also called the tend-and-befriend hormone, oxytocin is partially responsible for the warm feeling you’ll have for your partner long after you leave the bedroom. I call it the honeymoon hangover.
Read more: Sexless marriage>
Share a secret — something about yourself or your past that you’ve never told your partner before. It doesn’t have to be a part of a shock and awe campaign. Rather, this is about deeply knowing and fully trusting (and, sometimes, really chuckling).
Read more: 4 steps to letting go of the past>
Do “appreciations” every day for a week. Pick a reliable time — over dinner, maybe — and name one thing about your partner that you appreciate (his killer sense of humour, his ability to remain calm in a storm, the way he just knows to order you that second margarita).
Doing this exercise will go a long way toward fortifying the “like” in your “love.”
Hold a one-hour relationship forum. My co-therapist, Alyson Schafer, and I routinely ask couples who see us for counselling to do this exercise:
1. Sit back to back, or lie beside each other in bed.
2. Put half an hour on the clock.
3. One of you owns that 30 minutes: Say whatever you want or need to say, or don’t say anything at all. But it’s yours. No interruptions.
4. Then, it’s the other partner's turn: Rebut, unload, or share in whatever way you choose.
If half an hour is too daunting, start with 15 minutes each. You will be amazed at what you learn.
Create a ritual — something that’s your “thing." It could be your weekly Sunday-afternoon soak in the tub, your daily coffee in bed, or even going out for wings every Wednesday at the local pub. The point is it belongs to you. You won’t look at a chicken wing the same way again!
We get into behavioural ruts — tit for tat. He quips about your cooking, you snipe back about his table manners, and you’re off. There you are doing that same old tiring two-step. The trouble is, once we lay those neural pathways, they become habituated; we go back to them time and time again, like a needle stuck in a groove.
Stop the cycle before it begins. Instead of your usual barbed response, crack a joke, or make a suggestive comment. It will throw him right off his neural track, too.
Read more: Are your relationship expectations...too great?>
Try something new together. Be newbies at a shared pursuit. Take up gardening, book a semi-private cooking lesson, or make it your joint mission to learn Mandarin. Having mutual interests will become increasingly important as your kids grow up, up and away.
We grow deaf to the subtle sarcasm that seeps into our partnerships. For one week, decide that there will be no criticism, sarcasm or even teasing. Supportive, loving, complimenting comments only.
Read more: Body language 101>
Pretend this is the partnership of your dreams. What would you do, what would you say?
There’s this myth that behaviours follow feelings. Sometimes that's the case. But, the road runs both ways — feelings can also follow behaviours. Act as if you’re really in love, like you can’t wait to get his clothes off. Bet you'll find your lost libido along the way.
Keep up with your baby's development, get the latest parenting content and receive special offers from our partners