Five steps to help you reconnect with your partner
Whether you have been together for three years or three decades, sometimes it can feel like you are stuck in a relationship rut and the path ahead seems humdrum and unexciting.
It can be easy to blame work or the kids for draining the emotional connection between you, but you have more control over your relationship than you may think. In fact, it can be surprisingly simple to reconnect if you pay attention to these five straight-forward steps:
1. Spend time together, just the two of you, not talking about work or children. If this thought makes you scratch your head and wonder ‘what else is there?’ then taking time out together should be an absolute priority. You don’t have to go out for an expensive meal, just a walk in the park and a coffee is enough. Try to spend at least two hours a week outside the house together (a trip to the supermarket or DIY store doesn’t count).
2. Have a least one ‘no technology’ evening every week. In the last decade or so, relationships have had to cope with a flood of technological distractions which make us turn our attention away from real life encounters and towards a screen instead. While smartphones and tablets can be useful tools to make our lives easier, they also have the capacity to wreak havoc with our couple relationship. Humans are designed to feel happy when they make good connections with other humans in face to face settings. Cut back on the amount of time you spend watching other people live their lives on Facebook or Youtube and start engaging fully with your partner and your own life.
3. Remember that actions change feelings. The brain works in a feedback loop. If you behave in a certain way, it will then supply the matching feeling, so start to act more kindly towards your partner. Offer to make them a cup of tea, even if you are a bit grumpy with them. Which leads to the next step...
4. If you are angry or upset, explain that you need to talk about what is bothering you, but don’t do this using naming, blaming, shaming or complaining language. Avoid using the word ‘you’. It’s easier for someone to take on board a message if they don’t feel attacked, for example, "I’m uncomfortable when I hear shouting" is an easier message for someone to accept than, "you are always shouting".
5. Each write a list of five fun things that you could do together. Choose one option atleast every week/fortnight and work your way through the list.
Couples counselling can help couples recognise where the problems may lie and how to manage them. The counsellor will not tell you what to do, they will simply listen to you talk. A counsellor can offer support and advice to couples, guiding them through the journey to overcome the problems and move forward together, or separately.
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About Val Sampson
Val Sampson is an Edinburgh-based couples counsellor and coach. She is the author of four books on sex, health and relationships.