Do This Right Now To Improve Your Relationship With Your Partner

by Leslie Gunderson, LMFT

Anyone else experiencing A LOT more “together time” than normal with your partner lately? Anyone else feeling like “ships in the night” with your partner, trying to manage the day and passing off tasks? Whatever your situation is during this pandemic, there are things you can do right now if your relationship needs some support.

Assert needs

My husband and I have known each other for 13 years, and somehow he still can’t read my mind. If you have a need, communicate it clearly. Express what you are feeling, and ask for what you need in positive terms. 

  • “I’m feeling burned out and need to take a walk by myself.
  • “I’ve been stressed all day, can you take care of dinner?”

This kind of communication goes a long way in softening defenses, and helping your partner know how to be a good partner. 

Reflect back

Sometimes when our partner is complaining, we jump to defending ourselves or try to fix the problem. When communication is difficult, or feelings are tense, stop. Listen closely. Before you respond, reflect back to your partner what you heard them say.

  • “I’m hearing you say you are burned out and need some space.”
  • “It sounds like it was a hard day and you want some help.”
  • “That sounds really frustrating.”

Reflecting and validating before responding fosters trust and emotional intimacy. It helps you get on the same page. 

Daily check ins

The end of the day is a great time to have a simple ritual of connection. Here are some ideas:

  • “What were the best and worst parts of your day?”
  • Take a “temperature” on how your relationship felt that day.
  • Tell each other one thing you are grateful for and one thing you would like more of in your relationship.

Hint: Use those assertive and validating communication skills during these check ins.

Dates

Some of us are stuck at home together, some of us have kids stuck with us, and some of us are working extra long hours and don’t get to be home as much. Now, more than ever, it’s hard to be intentional about spending quality time with your partner when you get the chance. Make your relationship a priority whenever you can. Here are some ideas:

  • Set aside a designated day and time each week.
  • Put away distractions (ahem, phones).
  • Keep it simple. Play video games together, listen to music together, order ice cream in a drive through and eat it in your car together (I have definitely done this more than once).

The idea is to have some time, however long or short, that you intentionally spend together without others and without distractions.

 

 

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