7 Steps to a Happier Relationship


happy coupleI must confess that I love of lists!  I make lists of things to do, books to read, recipes to try, the list of lists that I make could go on and on.  And while it may be a little neurotic, the fact is having a list helps to keep important things in the forefront of my mind.  So as we head into a new week I want to share a list for all of you couples out there.

Let’s face it, taking care of our partner’s emotional needs can quickly become an after thought in the midst of day to day life.  This list is designed to help keep you and your partner connected while tending to the mundane obligations of daily life.  Here goes….

  1. Review your schedules. Most of us have lives that are always on the go.  Throw in a couple of kids, family obligations, outings with friends, and chores and the weeks can fly right by.  Set a regular time either at the end of the week or the beginning to go over your weekly schedule.  Does someone have a doctor’s appointment or late night meeting?  Do you need to change your regular routine to accommodate a kid’s band concert or take the dog to the vet?  Although not romantic or fun, setting aside a regular time to catch up on each others activities not only avoids scheduling issues, it keeps you connected.  When you know what your partner is doing you have that much more to talk about and are better able to support them on busy days or with unpleasant activities.
  2. Eat a meal together. Obviously you want to do this more than once a week but the truth is that sometimes it just doesn’t happen or when it does its a quick bite as the kids review their day.  Make time at least once a week to eat a meal alone together.  Meet your honey for lunch at their office or have them come to yours.  If all else fails, plan to eat a late dinner one night a week.  Even if you have to wait for the kids to go to bed before you can sit down together, it’ll be worth it.
  3. Say something nice. Sounds simple enough but often the simple gestures of love are the first things to go.  While it is important to also DO something nice for each other, making a point o express your love and appreciation for your spouse is vital to your long term happiness together. The simple act of expressing love and thoughtfulness help keep your emotional bank accounts full.  That means the next time you forget to let the dog out or snap at your spouse they may be more apt to forgive you as they remember the nice things you said earlier in the week.
  4. Make time to be sexy.The difference between couples and roommates is intimacy {ok there are a few more differences but intimacy is the big one!}.  Everyone has a need for physical affection so don’t let exhaustion or daily frustrations keep you from getting a little frisky with your loved one.  Put on some music, light a candle, and rekindle the romantic lust (and love) that you had in those early days when you wouldn’t let anything keep you from that special someone.  No energy for lingerie or romantic gestures… like Nike says, “just do it”.  If you are in a healthy long-term relationship then you already know that sometimes the best times together are the simplest.  Don’t get caught up in the image of a romantic evening, instead just find 20 minutes where you both are free (whatever the time of day) and just give all your attention to connecting, emotionally and physically, with your partner.
  5. Talk to each other. I am still amazed at how often couples report that they can days or even weeks without REALLY talking to each other.  And I don’t mean talking about the weather, or the kids, or your job; instead just check in with your loved one.  If you’re like a lot of couples, its hard to find the time and energy at night to really have meaningful conversation but don’t give up.  Send them a text message or leave a voice mail at the office just asking how their day is going.  Post a note on the bathroom mirror or fridge door to let them know you are thinking of them and interested in what’s happening in their world.  These conversation may only last 30 seconds or you might connect and chat for hours but find a way to reach out and ask your partner how they are doing each week.
  6. Take time to reflect. While it is important to connect regularly with each other, it is also vital that you each take some time alone to reflect on yourselves and your relationship.  Ask yourself what’s working really well this week?  What things could use some improvement and how can I make them better?  By assessing what’s happening now, you can avoid having minor frustrations escalate into serious problems.  It’s also a time to remember the reasons you fell in love in the first place.  It’s easy to take for granted the things we don’t think about.  You spend time thinking about what you need to do at work, how you can help your kids, and a number of other things each day.  Be sure to set aside time to focus mentally on your relationship as well.
  7. Have fun and celebrate your love!  A good relationship takes work, sometimes a lot of work, and you deserve to celebrate and have fun together each week.  Get out and go on a date, stay home and enjoy the family or home you have built together.  Maybe you just sit on the couch and watch a favorite show or play a game together.  Do whatever it is that you do to have fun together.  No matter how great or challenging your week was, if you’re both still standing, committed to each other then you have something to celebrate.
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