Healthy Relationships – Five Tips To Cultivate Connection
Around the world February is known as the Month of Love. It offers us an opportunity to be a little romantic, do something special with our partners or just express appreciation. Of course, this behaviour should not be limited to one day or month of the year!
Healthy romantic relationships require continuous work, commitment and a willingness to adapt and change with your partner. The most important aspects of a healthy relationship that need our attention are open and honest communication, keeping outside relationships and interests alive, respectful disagreement, and maintaining a meaningful emotional connection.
While these are all worth a closer look, in this article we’d like the focus on the latter; maintaining connection.
Spending quality time with each other, face to face, is a sure-fire way to keep the flame alive. Remember when your relationship was just starting out? You probably have many fond memories of when you first started dating. It was all new and exciting. You likely spent many hours just chatting and doing new, fun things together. As time goes by and the demands of life, work and family increase we often find it harder and harder to make time for our partners.
Consider that we fall in love while looking at and listening to each other. It makes perfect sense that when we continue this behaviour we should be able to sustain the falling in love experience over the long term. While texting and voice notes have a purpose, when it comes to healthy romantic relationships, we need face-to-face communication. Digital communication just does not positively impact the brain and nervous system in the same way face-to-face communication does.
Here are FIVE things you can do to make sure the time you spend with your loved one matters.
Commit to regularly spending quality time together. No matter how busy you are, take a few minutes each day to put aside your job, your to-do list and all your electronic devices. Clear your thoughts and focus on and connect with your partner. This could be your daily check-in with each other, a quick connection, or a reminder that you care for each other and play on the same team.
Find something that you enjoy doing together. This could be a shared hobby, a dance class, a daily walk, or just sitting over a cup of coffee. Sharing enjoyable activities enhances intimacy and cultivates connections.
Try something new together. Exploring new activities or places can be a fun way to connect and keep things interesting. It can be something as simple as trying a new restaurant or going on a short trip or excursion to a place you’ve never been to before.
Focus on having fun together. In the early stages of a relationship couples are often more fun and playful. It is this playful attitude that is sometimes forgotten as life starts to throw challenges our way and it may get in the way. Playfulness and humor can help you get through testing time, reduce stress and resolve issues more easily. Try to come up with playful ways to surprise your partner, like an unexpected gift or booking a table at their favorite restaurant out of the blue. You can also reconnect with your playful side by playing games, with your kids and with pets.
Do things together that benefit others. A very powerful way of cultivating your connection as a couple is to do something together that you both value but is outside of the relationship. Giving back to your community by joining a cause you both believe in, spending time on it, volunteering together can do wonders for your relationship. The benefits include meeting new people and being exposed to new ideas, creating an opportunity for you and your partner to work on a challenge together as a team. As well as helping to relieve stress, anxiety, and depression, Doing things to benefit others not only helps to relieve stress, anxiety and depression, it also gives great pleasure. Our human need to help others is part of our genetic make up and the more we help, the happier we feel, both as an individual and as a couple.
A healthy romantic relationship adds to both partners’ overall well-being. It is supported by communication, respect, and boundaries. A healthy relationship requires more than just shared interests and feelings for each other. It requires two people who understand each other, care for each other while also caring for themselves.
“When two people respect each other, the ability to be vulnerable and to reveal their feelings can create a powerful emotional connection that is the source of real intimacy and friendship.” – David D Burns