With Valentines around the corner I thought I would pass along some useful information that may help the relationship in your life. This past week my husband and I took a couple days to reconnect and spend some time together. My husband has been at a high-level stress with his work & our connection was a bit distant. We decided to take a couple days to get away. So, I invested in a relationship game, The Gottman Couples Retreat Board game, that I thought may be good to help us talk, connect, get out of the stresses of our daily life. It was a fun evening of writing little love notes to each other, playing the game, asking questions and stepping away from the day to day routine.
In the game there are a variety of cards, so I am going to create this post to accompany some of the ideas [ie: Got Facts—I am going to create some facts I collect. Ask open ended questions–I am going to create a questions list, etc] I am not going to take them from the game because that would take away from the game & you may want to buy it and invest in your own relationship. So, these ideas below are NOT from the game. Just the topics are. So here you go…
BUILD LOVE MAPS: LOVE Map: The principle of The Gottman Institute’s building Love Maps is simply this: knowing the little things about your partner’s life creates a strong foundation for your friendship and intimacy. How to do this–Ask Open Ended QUESTIONS: Here are some to get you started…What is your favorite memory of me? What is your favorite thing that I do for you? What movie reminds you of us? What do you think we need to work on the most in our relationship? Do you believe I love you? What is your favorite thing I ever did for a special occasion for you? When we are with family, do I make you feel important? What’s another career that you think you would love? What is a favorite memory with your Mom and Dad? Biggest dream location you would like to visit? What’s the happiest you have ever felt? Did you ever talk to your parents? What’s the accomplishment you are most proud of? Where do you want to be living in 10 years? Which of your friends would you choose if you had to be on a desert island with just one? Which would you like most: a summer home, a year-long vacation or a boat? What would you do with an extra $1000 to spend only on yourself? If you could see into the future, what would you want to know? What’s your greatest talent? What is your most unique trait? What is the best thing about our relationship? Are you an optimist, a pessimist or a realist? If you had to change one thing about yourself, what would you pick? How did your siblings shape who you are? What was your favorite date night we ever had? [taken from Lifehack]
OPPORTUNITY: Take opportunities to CONNECT–Go on a walk together & see if you can hold hands the entire time. TOUCH: kiss, high-five, hug, hold hands, tickle…touch & try to for a least 30 seconds. TALK: avoid the usual, “how was your day” and ask thought provoking questions. Sharing this little chat every night really can improve your relationship, says psychologist Angela Hicks, PhD, of Westminster University. She’s found that couples who discuss recent positive events with each other feel happier the next day, with increased feelings of intimacy and connection to their partners. [prevention] GET GRATEFUL: Let them know how much you appreciate them. Share the little and big things you appreciate and love about them. CREATE new memories together: no one wants the same old day in and out routine. Avoid boredom and try new things together. Stony Brook University social psychologist Arthur Aron, PhD. According to his research, novelty is the spice of life—and a key ingredient of a good marriage. You don’t have to give up your favorite couple-time activities, but do make an effort to inject some new plans into the mix: a hike, a cooking class, or even amusement park rides qualify. Just pick something you’ve never done before (or recently) together. Rewarding experiences flood your brain with dopamine, a mood-boosting chemical. “If your partner is present, that feeling becomes linked to him,” says Aron.[prevention] LAUGH: find things that make you laugh together, whether it is a favorite comedy show, a good joke, fun memories, share in the laughter. Appalachian State University study, experts asked 52 couples to reminisce about fun times they had experienced both alone and together; those who liked to recall shared laughs were most satisfied with their relationships. “When people laugh at the same thing, they validate each other’s opinions,” says lead author Doris Bazzini, PhD. [prevention] EXPRESS: do little things to show and express you care. Leave a little note on the mirror that says, I love you. Leave a warm robe or towel for them when they get out of the shower. Buy their favorite drink & write a note on the lid & leave it in the fridge. CELEBRATE: Do you smile when your partner comes home with a pat on the back from his boss or nudges his golf handicap down a point or two? Good, say UCLA psychologists, because the way you receive your significant other’s exciting news may be even more important than how you react during a crisis. In a study of 79 couples, partners who shared excitement for each other’s achievements (“Your hard work is paying off” versus “Can you handle that responsibility?” in response to a promotion, for example) had the most satisfying relationships. Interestingly, how a partner reacted to tough times wasn’t as closely tied to satisfaction. A celebration provides the opportunity to boost his ego and reinforce your status as a team, say the authors, so break out those champagne flutes and start saluting yourselves more often. [prevention]
GOT FACTS: Look at your relationship in a more objective manner. Stop playing the “blame game.” That is not helping anyone.
Learn how to COMMUNICATE. Learn how to listen. Men get the bad rap for never listening, but admit it: You can probably use a bit of a refresher course too. In fact, Harvard researchers say that couples who express the most empathy and affection are most likely to stay together for the long haul. To become a better listener, try these tips from marriage counselor Harville Hendrix, PhD:
- Be a mirror. When your partner expresses his or her feelings, show that you’re listening by paraphrasing. Start with “Let me see if I’ve got that: You feel…”
- Resist the urge to interrupt. “Instead of ‘Are you through now?’ try ‘Is there more to that?’ ” says Hendrix. “This shows your partner that he or she can feel open and safe with you.” Of course, saying it calmly helps too.
- Validate his POV. Finish with “I can imagine that because of [fill in the situation], you feel [angry, sad, guilty, etc.].” [prevention]
RESOLVE a disput: Resolving a marital dispute without damaging your relationship may boil down to a single choice of words. When researchers recently studied disagreements among 154 couples (all married 15 or more years), they found that pairs who used plural pronouns—such as we, us, and our—during an argument were more likely to express positive feelings and report less mental stress afterward. Conversely, those who preferred using “I” during a spat were more likely to have negative emotions and report marital dissatisfaction. “Using ‘we language’ during a disagreement may help couples align themselves on the same team, as opposed to being adversaries,” says lead investigator Benjamin Seider. [prevention]
WORK IT OUT: Working out with your husband kills two big birds with one healthy stone: You’ll likely get fitter, which benefits your sex life too. One study found that 94% of couples stuck to a fitness program when they did it together, which makes perfect sense. You can keep each other motivated, and it’s exciting to explore new fitness activities, like biking or hiking, together. (Here are 7 ways your partner can help you lose weight.) Other research shows that women enjoy sex more when they’re physically active—workouts relieve stress, boost energy, and give body confidence a lift, all great for your libido. [prevention]
REKINDLE the ROMANCE: Last—but most certainly not least—staying intimate and romantically connected is one of the surest things you can do for a happy lasting marriage. But about one-third of couples in American suffer from low sex drive or desire, and getting things back on track isn’t always as simple as splurging on a new negligee or booking a bed-and-breakfast getaway. Here is a link to 13 ways for seriously better sex http://www.prevention.com/sex/better-sex/tips-better-sex Here is a link 14 days to rekindle your relationship by Laura Berman http://www.everydayhealth.com/sexual-health-pictures/days-to-rekindle-your-relationship.aspx#02
50 “Quick Connects” from the Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative—
- Make sure your kisses last at least six seconds. Every now and then go for a full minute.
- Feed each other grapes.
- Stick a love note in a lunch box, purse or pocket.
- Send funny and/or romantic cards by snail mail or e-mail.
- Learn how to give a great foot massage.
- Wash each other’s hair.
- Set your alarm for five minutes earlier than usual to cuddle.
- Smile at each other.
- Get silly with each other and laugh out loud together.
- Grab your partner for a spontaneous dance when a favorite song comes on the radio or stereo.
- Make eye contact when you talk.
- Hold hands.
- Leave a wonderful voice mail message on their phone.
- Text a love note.
- Send a love e-mail every day.
- Leave little love notes in unexpected places.
- Send a funny photo on your phone.
- Ask about each others’ days.
- Listen with 100% attention.
- Give a one-minute shoulder massage.
- Do something unexpected for your spouse.
- Snuggle on the couch.
- Touch each other with affection.
- Notice and comment about something your spouse does that you like.
- Say thank you.
- Say you’re welcome.
- Be interested in what your spouse is doing.
- Tell a joke.
- Leave a flower.
- Offer to help.
- Write a poem.
- Read a poem to your spouse.
- Cook a romantic dinner.
- Offer to cook dinner if you aren’t the one who usually cooks.
- Burn a CD with favorite songs, or love songs.
- Post photos on the refrigerator or bathroom mirror that remind you of wonderful times you’ve shared.
- Bring home great take out for just the two of you.
- Say “I love you” in a different way every day.
- Slow dance to a love song.
- Write a love note on the bathroom mirror. PG rated if you have kids!
- Offer to take the kids out of the house for awhile and give the other parent some alone time.
- Dip a strawberry into whipped cream and feed to your partner.
- At night, step outside together for five minutes and look at the stars.
- Sing to each other.
- Make a care package with his/her favorite snacks and leave it in the car.
- Establish a weekly ritual that you faithfully observe. For example, watching a favorite television program, taking a walk after dinner, putting candles on the table.
- Give your spouse a little token to wear as a reminder of your love. (Try for creative rather than expensive.)
- Kiss your spouse on the back of the neck.
- Flirt with each other.
- Watch a sunrise or sunset together.