Vail Relationships column: 10 ways to improve your relationship immediately
Editor’s note: This is the second part of a two-part series. Read the first part at http://www.vaildaily.com.
1. Focus on the qualities you admire and appreciate in your partner and speak them — there’s a reason you chose him or her. What did you see in the beginning of the relationship that was so appealing, and what do you see now in your spouse or partner that is attractive, positive and good? Make it a point to tell him or her these positive feelings, emotions and memories.
Perhaps you could verbalize two or three of these every day for the next several weeks. Make it a high priority to recognize and acknowledge what you like, love, admire and respect about your partner and say it out loud. Who doesn’t want to hear what you like and respect about them? Saying this demonstrates love, and it’s enormously important.
2. Believe your partner is acting with good intentions, and edit yourself when you are about to speak critically or angrily — before you speak, ask yourself: Is it friendly? Well-meaning? Helpful? Is it good for our relationship?
3. Learn to express your hurt, anger, disappointment or frustration in a more skillful manner — you can speak your peace and still be respectful to the person you love. Remove your defensiveness, rudeness and put-downs from conversations between the two of you. Find a more elegant, receptive and loving way of expressing yourself.
4. Be physically affectionate — holding hands, touching, kissing, hugging and cuddling are actions that demonstrate closeness, warmth and connection. Affectionate touch is like glue that keeps people attached to each other. Lessen this, and your relationship will feel colder. Increase this, and your relationship has the opportunity to grow closer.
5. What do you want your marriage or partnership to be like five years from now? — answer this question together, and create at least a dozen (or two dozen) goals as a couple that the two of you are striving for in that period of time. Working toward a shared vision of the future keeps both of you focused on the life you’re trying to create. It also takes some of the focus off the problems or irritants you feel in the moment.
6. Create a list together: activities we both find fun. Then create a second list: new things we’d like to experience or try — now combine these two lists, and do one or two of these activities every week over the next several months. You’ll find that keeping playfulness alive in your relationship will draw you closer together and the novelty will keep the two of you stimulated and inspired. The couple that plays together, stays together.
7. Be true to your word — say what you mean, and mean what you say. Trust is one of the sacred tenets of a loving relationship, and no one can afford the price it costs to mess with it.
8. Pick your battles — you’re not going to win every time, so fight only for those things that matter the most to you.
9. Make your relationship a top priority — don’t spend your “prime time” consistently preoccupied with other things.
10. Remember romance — surprises, flowers, notes, cards, helping him or her with things around the house that need to get done. Go out of your way to please and do so on an ongoing basis.
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. He is the author of the best-selling book “Love, Sex and Staying Warm: Creating a Vital Relationship.” Contact him at 303-758-8777 or visit http://www.neil rosenthal.com.