Everywhere I turn my friends are navigating choppy waters in their most intimate relationships. This makes my heart hurt, but I can relate. Lately, my husband and I have been feeling out of sync and stressed out from parenting our wonderful, intense teenager (wow, can raising a teen test your marriage!). We went for a walk this past Sunday and realized it’s time to pause, spend some energy on “us” and call in all the tools/support we need to remind us we’re on the same team.
Here are a few ideas from Nurturing the Soul of Your Family (video) for reconnecting with your partner in daily life:
• Schedule time for self-care first. Block out time for self-renewal just like you would schedule a dentist’s appointment. One night a week schedule a “solo date,” or time alone getting your needs met, whether that’s dinner with a friend or attending a yoga class alone. Then you’ll be able to fully enjoy and feel more generous and loving during your time with your spouse. Read Relationships Are Hard?!
• Utilize the power of touch. Make a habit to stay physically connected to your partner whenever you see him or her in thoughtful, easy ways: hugs and kisses in the morning and at the end of the day, quick neck or shoulder massages, gentle arm touches, holding hands. Physicality increases our emotional connection. I love my friend John Howard’s work on the neurobiology of relationships.
• Communicate respectfully and manage your own frustrations. Partners don’t always agree. That’s okay, but when our emotions get heated, we can say and do things we later regret. Recognize your limits and when you’re triggered give yourself a “quiet break” to reflect and re-frame. Also, be mindful of what you know sets you off or upsets your partner and avoid it. Imago work and The Five Love Languages are great resources here.
• Share the big picture and communicate often. Make sure your partner knows what’s going on with you on all fronts by telling him or her. If you have a particularly challenging day or week ahead, and you may need some extra support and TLC, give your partner a heads-up. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a coach/therapist or mentor if you need help seeing the 30,000 foot view.
• Create a bedroom space that celebrates your marriage. A feng-shui consultant once asked me when walking into our bedroom, “Where are the pictures of you and your husband?” Great point. Carefully choose for your bedroom items you love and cherish that celebrate your union: special photos of you and your partner, meaningful artwork, a marriage intention statement, etc. Also, try to keep your bedroom a toy and media-free zone. Make it a space solely for relaxation, intimacy, sleep and connection.
• Every day, talk, connect and state your needs. At a minimum, take ten minutes at the end of each day to take turns sharing the highs and lows of your day, anticipating tomorrow, and asking for what you might need. Saying, “Three things I need from our relationship now are . . .” is a simple but powerful request. Your needs will change depending on the time of the year, your life stage and if you have kids. Also, try my friend Tanya’s strategy; she shares: “We like to take long, hot baths together after the kids are in bed — try staying mad when you’re covered in bubbles!”
This week, take a few minutes to sit down with your partner and explore these ideas together. At a relationship crossroad and asking the big questions? Check out this great Psychology Today blog from my good friends relationship experts Charlie and Linda Bloom and their newest book, a raw, powerful memoir: That Which Doesn’t Kill Us: How One Couple Got Stronger at the Broken Places—especially relevant if you’ve been married for decades. Your relationship can be one of your greatest sources of nourishment, but it needs tending and nurturing. I’d love to hear how you stay connected to your partner in the comments section below (and we’ll pick one entry to receive the Blooms’ newest book!).
THREE OPPORTUNITIES–I’D LOVE TO SUPPORT YOU:
- Hire me to plan/facilitate a custom workshop or retreat for your company, team or organization on life balance, resiliency or self-renewal. I’ve been speaking professionally for 25+ years on work-life balance and my clients include Fortune 500 companies, nonprofit agencies, national conferences and women’s organizations. Learn more and email me at workshops at reneetrudeau dot com to explore how I can help you.
- Retreats are a great way to step back and learn more about who you are, what makes you tick and what is most important to you at your current life stage. Join me this fall for an upcoming women’s retreat; learn more.
- Craving authentic community and want to find (or create) your tribe? Learn more about our global sisterhood of RTA-Certified Facilitators and empower/support women in your community! More here on how to become a RTA-Certified Facilitator and join our inner circle ($100 off through 6/30; includes private coaching with me).
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by coach/author/speaker and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women experience balance through the art/science of self-care, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal groups based on her award-winning self-care curriculum. She is the author of three books on life balance including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 16-year-old son. More on her background here.