On any given weekday, how many chores, tasks, and responsibilities do you have? Where on that list is nurturing your relationship?
Amid the daily grind, so often our loved ones take the back burner. We expect our partners to be there for us and love us unconditionally, even when we are cranky and burnt out. A busy life can cause distance and disconnection in relationships.
So how do you stay connected? When the world is spinning like a tornado around you, you must ground yourself in the relationship by being more present and increasing intimacy (not just sex) with your partner.
Intimacy involves opening yourself up, sharing, and connecting with your partner. Through little intimate moments, whether sexual or nonsexual, we feel a sense of closeness, familiarity, affection, and maybe even those butterflies again. However, these moments don't just happen by chance, especially during the daily grind.
It takes time to develop a lasting bond, but even over the course of a month, you can take meaningful steps toward a stronger and healthier relationship. In fact. sometimes it just takes a few minutes each day to be mindful, prioritize your partner, and reconnect. These moments add up to create a happy relationship in the long-term. In the next 30 days, try to incorporate the following:
1) Gratitude: Every day with your partner marks a choice to remain in your relationship. Yes, even if you're married, being committed and loving with towards your partner is a choice. So why not bring more attention and awareness to this choice? It’s not that we intentionally take our partners for granted; rather, we expect that they support us while we do not always show appreciation and gratitude. Each night for the next 30 days, identify and thank your partner for something thoughtful he or she did that day. Pay attention to the small things that may normally go unnoticed, such as washing the dishes, helping the kids get cleaned up for bed, or gassing up the car. You can also keep a gratitude journal, in which you write down specific things that you appreciate or are grateful for about your partner. Maybe it was an “I love you” note or the way he or she made you laugh that day. The more aware you are of your partner’s actions, the more inclined you may be to give compliments and do thoughtful things that enhance the intimacy in your relationship.
2) Text: There’s no question that communicating in person is ideal, and even a phone call is more intimate, but sometimes a text is the most realistic, quickest way to show that you care. During a busy day at work, take 30 seconds to send a text letting your partner know that you are thinking of him or her. Send a simple “I miss you,” “I can’t wait to see you tonight,” or a “Good luck at your meeting with the boss” message. Get creative—maybe you take a picture of your lunch and say, “I thought we could go on a virtual picnic!” Don’t be afraid to get a little sassy with a sexual comment or suggestive photo to help keep the flame going. Building anticipation is a phenomenal way to create intimacy. The most important thing to convey is that your partner is in your thoughts.
3) Share a positive memory: Reminiscing strengthens your bond. Discuss a memory from when you started dating or fell in love. You may notice talking about the “early days” creates sexual arousal. It’s normal for the frequency of sex to decline after you’ve been dating for a long time, so these moments help you reconnect and ignite passion. You can even relive your first date or travel to a location that holds special meaning to your relationship.
4) Daily check-in: Remember that tornado swirling around you? Amid the chaos of life, it’s essential to check in with your partner and talk about your day—yes, every day! Maybe it’s when you sit down for dinner, or perhaps you create a daily ritual of taking a walk around the block together and catching up. If you don’t carve out this space and do it consistently, the opportunity will likely pass you by, which means you'll be missing those little moments and stories that make up life, furthering your disconnection. During your daily check-in, focus on giving your partner your full, undivided attention. This means putting down your cell phone, turning off the television, stopping folding laundry, and physically orienting yourself toward your partner. Show him or her you are engaged by making eye contact, nodding, or with physical touch, such as holding his or her hand.
5) Physical touch: Oh, the power of touch! One of the most important ways of creating intimacy is through physical touch—hugging, kissing, massaging, stroking, rubbing, having sex…you name it! This is also one of the things that separate a romantic relationship from a typical friendship, or "roommate" scenario. Over the next 30 days, increase physical affection and focus on a lingering touch—an extra long goodbye hug before work, and at least a six-second kiss when you return. Be more mindful of the ways you can increase touch during your normal routines, such as when cooking dinner together, snuggling on the couch when you might normally sit on separate ends, or placing your hand on your partner's thigh while driving in the car.
When the 30 days are up, if you’re still struggling to create intimacy in your relationship, try a short exercise. It should leave you both feeling warm and fuzzy! Each partner should write down the answers to the following questions. Discuss the responses together, then keep your partner’s answers so that you can reread them at any time for a feel-good moment:
- What are the three physical attributes that you are most attracted to about your partner?
- What are three personality traits that you are most attracted to about your partner?
- What are three of your most treasured memories with your partner?
- What are three things you are looking forward to most about your future with your partner?
Want more support? Contact Samantha for couples counseling, and download her FREE ebook, Love Successfully: 10 Secrets your Need To Know Right Now!