Everywhere I turn my friends and clients are navigating choppy waters in their most intimate relationships. The current economic and political climate combined with the fall-out from this global pandemic is challenging even the strongest of relationships. Visiting with my partner this past Sunday, we 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 in the foxhole together.
Here are a few ideas from my book Nurturing the Soul of Your Family 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. Reflect on what you most need physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually do feel fully resourced. Perhaps schedule a “solo date” one night a week for creative time or to work on your vision for 2021. Fill your cup first so you’ll be able to feel more generous and loving during your time with your partner. Read Relationships Are Hard?!
• Utilize the power of touch. I love my friend John Howard’s work on the neurobiology of relationships (hear our interview here). 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.
• 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.
• 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. 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.
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Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by transformational coach/author/speaker Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women find balance through the art and science of self-care, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, Spirituality & Health and more. She and her team have certified more than 400 facilitators in 10 countries around the globe to lead life coaching groups and women’s retreats based on her work. She’s the author of two books on life balance including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 18-year-old son. More on Renee here.