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Routine is boring. It’s the death knell for most relationships. Passion gets replaced with apathy and apathy turns us into walking corpses. What, too dramatic?
But what if routine could actually strengthen our relationships? What if we could create habits that kept us close to our partners?
Here are 7 things you can do every day to build a powerful relationship:
1. Make a positive/loving gesture toward your partner at 4 specific times during the day. I’ve talked about this a little bit here. You need to create a daily routine of making a heartfelt connection to your partner. It could be as simple as reaching out your hand.
Then, you need to do it at four crucial times during the day: when you wake up, before you leave, when you come home and before you go to bed. Why? Because preceding emotions greatly influence subsequent ones. If you start out the day with a positive emotion, it is more likely that you will form a positive stream of emotions that gain momentum until something in the environment changes them. Same thing goes for negative emotions.
A heartfelt gesture before you leave the house sets the tone for when you’re apart. Same thing for when you come home; it sets the tone for how your evening will be and raises the comfort level of the entire household. Before you go to bed will carry your emotions into the next morning.
2. Hug your partner 6 times a day for 6 seconds. Why so specific? Because chances are, when your relationship is in a rut, you’re probably not hugging each other more than a couple times a day. Hugs are often the first thing to go when resentment takes over. Give your partner a full body hug six times a day will help you get to a new level of closeness. When you first start to do this, it will feel forced. That’s why you need to hug for 6 seconds. The hug will start to feel genuine around the 4th or 5th second…that is, if you guys don’t completely hate each other yet!
3. Think positive thoughts about your partner. Simple: at some point during your work day, as often as possible, take 10 seconds to think positive thoughts about your partner.
4. Make a contract to give love with compassion and generosity. This needs to be written at the same time every single day. It’s your contract to your partner saying, “This is how I will show my love for you every day.” Keep it short and simple. Fill in the blank: “If I loved him/her, I would…”
- Show how my life is better because of him
- Let her know how much I love to see her happy
“I hereby agree to …”
- Speak in a loving voice
- Bring you coffee in the morning
- Make breakfast for you
Nothing over the top. It’s the little stuff that matters most.
5. What’s your motivation? All of our feelings come down to three modes: approach, avoid or attack. You can go toward your partner: with positive energy to appreciate, experience or learn more; give no energy and get away from her; or turn your negative energy toward him by harming, incapacitating or coercing. You will be happier and your relationship will be more satisfying the more you can stay in approach mode.
6. Attune yourself to what your partner is feeling. If you’re a woman, tune in to his dread and shame. If you’re a man, tune in to her anxiety. Allowing yourself to feel whatever he or she is feeling is meant to bring you closer for your mutual benefit. Then respond with nonverbal signs to reconnect.
7. Feel closer when you’re apart. No matter what you’re doing or where you are, you are connected to your partner. Whether you’re busy at work, 1000 miles apart or angry at each other, you’re still connected. Write down on a piece of paper all the ways you are deeply connected to your partner. Carry it with you wherever you go and give a copy to him or her.
Things you can write:
- You make me feel alive.
- You make me bloom.
- My life has more meaning because of you.
What do you value in your partner?
Takeaway: Ultimately, it comes down to choice. You can choose to feel connected to your partner or you can choose to feel disconnected. You will like yourself more when you choose to feel connected. What’s great is that you can use all of the suggestions above without needing your partner’s cooperation. They don’t even need to know that you’re doing it. But they will definitely feel the positive impact of your new demeanor if you choose to be connected.
How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It by Patricia Love, Ed.D. and Steven Stosny, Ph.D