One is the loneliest number…
One is the loneliest number…
One is the loneliest…
Well, not exactly.
Two CAN be as bad as one. Sometimes all it takes is one to make big changes, even in couples.
I receive calls from individuals who desire couples counseling, but they are not sure they can convince their significant other to join. Some are surprised when I tell them that they can begin couples counseling even without their partner present.
We all desire to feel loved, cherished, and supported by our spouse.
The busyness of life creates distance and over time and negative interactions can slowly chip away at the foundation of a solid relationship.
One day you look up and notice that things are not as happy as they once were. You feel less of a spark but you’re not sure how you got there.
You’d like to do something to improve your relationship, but you’re unsure if you’re able to without a spouse willing to compromise with your ideas and suggestions.
Well, I have very good news… Not only can you do something to improve your relationship, but you can do it even if your spouse is not open to the idea of working on it! (One is not the loneliest!)
Today, we’ll talk about 4 ways you can improve your relationship.
These 4 steps will transform your level of satisfaction even if you feel like you’re in a less-than-perfect relationship. Use these tips to revolutionize your couple connection.
1. Notice What’s New
When in a long-term relationship, people tend to get comfortable. They think, “We’ve been together for 15 years. I know everything about him/her.” They rely on what they’ve worked so hard to build during the initial years of the relationship.
While it’s true that you know your spouse better than anyone else, it does not mean it’s unimportant to take time to notice the ways your spouse has changed over the years.
Harvard Psychologist Ellen Langer said that when people who don’t enjoy football watch a game and are asked to write what new things they notice about the players or stadium, they report higher levels of enjoyment while watching.
We can take a lesson from this. The next time you’re with your spouse, pay attention. See if you notice 3 new things about them.
Did they get a new hair cut or color? Did she try a new make up? Is he wearing black shoes more often than brown?
Even noticing seemingly insignificant items can increase your engagement and attention toward your partner. Allow yourself to be surprised by your spouse. When we assume we already know everything, we block any opportunity for adding vigor into the relationship.
Newness will impact your overall level of connection and help you to see your relationship in a whole new way.
2. Focus on Your own Happiness
Frequently I hear, “But if I focus on myself, I’ll be neglecting my relationship! Right?”
Too often we rely on our spouse to make us happy. Though our spouse can bring much joy and happiness, it is important to remember that you can also do things to contribute to your own happiness (within reason).
Remember to take time for yourself. Start a new hobby or pick up an old one that you once enjoyed. Spend more time in prayer. Reach out to an old friend. Do whatever it is that gives you energy and can fill you up.
When you feel happier, you’ll automatically bring that into your relationship.
Think of the people you know in your own life who you would consider to be happy. Don’t they have a tendency to make others around them happy? They seem to have a way of interacting with the world with freedom.
Your happiness will also be contagious. Focusing on you will inadvertently increase positivity in your relationship because you’ll feel more positive.
Now don’t interpret my suggestion to mean you must fly to Vegas for the weekend. Don’t go crazy on me!
Just pick one small thing you can do that you know will lift your mood and make you feel a bit happier (even if it’s just by a tiny bit).
3. Keep an Eye out for Good Things
Sounds clichè, but it works! When we are feeling dissatisfied in our relationships, we tend to only notice what is going wrong. We get bogged down by the negative and become hopeless.
To avoid turning into Debbie Downer, focus on what is going well.
Put on those rose-colored glasses and look for the good. Ask yourself, “What are the things that went well in our relationship today?” You can do this at the end of the day as you’re getting ready for bed. Or you can do it first thing in the morning and reflect on the previous day.
Challenge yourself to answer with at least 3 examples.
Did you both share a good laugh in the morning? Did he make coffee for you before he left for work? Did she welcome you home with a big bear hug?
Even if the only thing you can recognize is that your spouse said “Good morning,” it’s a start. Start small if you have to. Noticing the small stuff will help you develop the habit and lead to noticing more significant points.
The more you’re able to notice the positive the more satisfied you’ll feel about your relationship.
4. Make Time for Connection
Rather than being frustrated and feeling as though your spouse is “too busy” for you. Make time for him or her. Spending time together does not just happen, you have to make it happen.
Look for times to show attention and affection. If he is watching TV, join him. (Don’t forget to snuggle up when you do!) If she is tending to the garden, get green and put some gloves on.
Try initiating a conversation with your spouse. You can do this via text or face-to-face. Say, “The weather is perfect. Let’s take quick a walk after dinner tonight.” Or ask them about a topic you know they’re interested in.
Ask her how her team played the other night or how his business is going.
Even if you get brushed off a few times, keep at it. Eventually, your partner will catch on and reciprocate.
When you make an effort to seek opportunities to connect and take advantage of them, you’ll start to feel closer to your spouse. When you feel closer, you’re going to notice improvement in your overall interactions.
Now you have 4 ways to revitalize your relationship. If you’ve been wishing you could do something to add spice back into your relationship, give one of these a try. See if you notice any improvement.
The best part is that you can start right now!
You don’t have to wait for your spouse to be on board. All you have to do is give these tips a try and watch your relationship strengthen and shine.
Got other ways you’ve improved your relationship? Let us know in the comments!