Want to have a connected, happy and fulfilled relationship? Here are the 8 habits you can start practicing today to be on your way:
1. Be Interested: pay attention to your partner. This might seem like a “no-brainer” but it’s very common for couples to be in the same room, but not pay attention to their partner. Instead, they’re distracted by their computer, kids, own issues or smart phone. Distraction is the termites of your relationship. Be in the room with your partner. Show you’re listening and give your undivided attention. Don’t multitask in any conversation with your partner.
2. Make Your Partner #1: How does your partner know they’re special in your life? Think of ways you can show your partner that they’re more than just a roommate. If you’re at the bookstore, pick them up a book you think they’ll like. Did you drive your partner’s car? Return it with a full tank of gas. Walking into the house? Greet and connect with your partner before you do anything else.
3. Show Unconditional Acceptance, not just Unconditional Love: Many couples show each other unconditional love but not unconditional acceptance. These are two very different things. I get that you’d die for your partner and maybe never leave him or her, but do you accept who they are as a person or are you always trying to change them? Can you embrace the things that bug you instead of “putting up with them.” Accept fully who your partner is, just the way you want to be fully accepted for who you are.
4. Use Positive Language: Be encouraging, give compliments and use positive language to describe your partner and your relationship. Notice how often you’re speaking negatively about your partner to others and curb this impulse. All that negative talk creates a negative spiral in your relationship. Show appreciation by saying “thank you” and letting your partner know, in some way, that you’re grateful to have them in your life.
5. Show Affection: You don’t have to make out or show public displays of affection (although both can be nice). It can be even more simple: hold hands, sit next to them while they work, do something nice for them (this can be anything from putting away the dishes to buying something or making dinner) or simply say “I love you.”
6. Keep Your Side of the Street Clean: I say it all the time, “You can’t fill a glass from an empty pitcher.” Your ability to love others is contingent on your ability to love yourself. Get sleep, eat well, limit your drug and alcohol intake and take time for yourself.
7. Ask More Collaborative Questions. Your partner doesn’t need to know all your thoughts about a topic, especially when they haven’t asked for your feedback. We tend to offer advice, direction and say things aloud without really thinking first. Slow down and ask yourself, “Why am I saying this to my partner? What’s my endgame here? If you stop to ask yourself that question, you’ll likely not say about 50% of the things you’re thinking, or you’ll say them differently. Instead, ask collaborative questions meant to brainstorm, facilitate and open up dialogue and connection.
8. Focus on the bright spots. Focus on what’s right, not what’s wrong with your partner or in your relationship. There’s a negativity bias we all have, so we’re actually skewed towards looking at our partners negatively. Focusing on the bright spots helps give you a more realistic view of your relationship while helping you focus on your strengths, instead of your weaknesses.