Relationship experts often talk about characteristics of two groups:
RELATIONSHIP MASTERS and RELATIONSHIP DISASTERS.
In this blog series I’ll be highlighting some tips that can help you and your partner look, feel and behave like RELATIONSHIP MASTERS -- creating relationships that are CONNECTED,SECURE, and STRONG and make both of you feel that your relationship is your most powerful and valuable asset.
Transform Your Relationship with The Art of Daily Dating
When I was learning about mindfulness meditation, I discovered the concept of taking a single mindful breath in the midst of any situation as a way to bring mindfulness into whatever I was doing, without having to stop everything and meditate for a long period of time. I learned that spending a few brief moments throughout the day being mindful was as useful and as important as spending 20 minute to an hour in silent meditation. Those brief moments could connect me, instantly, to a more present, less judgmental version of myself, and enable me to bring mindfulness into my life, anytime and anywhere.
What does this have to do with connecting to my partner?
Well, I’m going to suggest that you do something akin to the mindful breathe, in order to transform your relationship.
The ART and Habit of Daily Dating
Often, when I ask couples what might help them feel more connected in their relationship, they imagine they will need a weekend away, a retreat, or a long vacation. How wonderful! But it is not necessary or practical to wait until you can organize this time away. The time to start connecting is now -- there is nothing to stop you. No babysitter to hire, no bed and breakfast to reserve. You only have to decide that your relationship is so important, and connecting with your partner so vital, that you can't imagine going a day without doing it.
Once you get in the habit of connecting everyday in small, meaningful ways, you will see more change in your relationship than any intensive couples retreat could ever create.
Small connections over time are incredibly powerful
Think back to when you were first falling in love with your partner. You were connecting constantly, because you were always thinking about each other!. You sent each other texts, invited each other to social gatherings, you made physical contact whenever possible, you made small gestures of kindness and caring, and you had conversations in which both of you shared yourselves and were vulnerable. Well, it’s safe to say that you no longer obsess over your partner as you might have when you had a serious crush on him or her, but it is not too late to adopt the habit of daily dating. The first step is to start thinking MORE about your partner. How can you make her smile? How can you make him feel loved? How can you let her know you are thinking about her. It's up to you to take advantage of every opportunity you can to connect with with your partner.
How to do it:
When we drop a child off at daycare or with a sitter, or even tuck them into bed at night, it is no accident that we usually have little rituals we follow. We might sing the same song each night, read two books, or repeat the same phrase before turning off the light. These rituals make children feel safe, loved, and secure in the fact that even though you are saying goodbye, your relationship is intact, they are safe, and you’ll be coming back soon. You and your partner need rituals too. It can be as simple as taking the time to give each other a kiss and say “I love you.” It can be an act of kindness such as clearing their car of snow or packing them a lunch. It can be a an act of romance such as slipping a love note into their bag or texting them a quick love note just after they leave. The key is that these things happen as regularly as possibly (i’m talking every day) and that you both engage in them.
Greetings are just as important as departures. They are a coming back together from different worlds and experiences and re-entering the “couple world” that you inhabit together. I am a huge fan of the “hello hug.” This is a practice that requires both partners to drop everything at the door and greet each other in a long, full body hug. (you can read more about this practice HERE: https://chappell-marmon.squarespace.com/config#/pages/55ef0823e4b0c125aad332ca|/blog/couples-therapy-exercise-welcome-home-hug) The Hello Hug allows for each person to arrive back to the loving, secure embrace of their partner and for both of your nervous systems to literally calibrate to the other. The trick with the Hello Hug is that you don’t let go of your partner until you feel him or her physically relax into you. This can do wonders for a couples who often find themselves getting into fights and misunderstandings in the evening.
Another idea for daily connecting is the creation of a simple check in time. This can be around the dinner table, in bed after the kids are asleep, in the morning over coffee. The key components of this connection time is that you are focused entirely on each other. You are in a space where you can make eye contact, listen compassionately, and let your partner feel acknowledged. It might be a time where you each share about your day. You might express gratitude for each other. You might over the plan for the next day or the next week. You might check in on your relationship goals. Whatever you do, it should be done with kindness and the feeling that it is a small gift (think mini retreat rather than a burden) to be able to spend those few minutes connecting.
What can you do to incorporate a Daily Date into your day?