Have you ever had that moment, maybe in the middle of a conversation with your partner, where you just feel like something is wrong? You get that sixth sense sort of feeling that the train is jumping the tracks? "There aren't usually flashing red warning lights to tell us when something needs attention," says LA-based couples therapist Ellen Bradley-Windell. "[We need to] embrace the idea of creating an effective maintenance plan for relationships."
Keeping this in mind, here are 8 ways
you can check in and keep the train running smoothly.
Take Your Emotional Temperature
Windell says that one of the most important questions is also one of the simplest: how are we doing? "Every so often, take the 'emotional temperature' of your relationship. Ask each other, 'Do you feel like we are treating each other like best friends?' 'Are we treating each other with respect?' 'Can we communicate openly?'"
she says. "If you use this temperature gauge for your relationship, the reward is that you may be picking up the beginning of a problem early, and solve it before it deepens into a bigger issue."
Ask For What You Need
Marriage and relationship therapist, Carin Goldstein, says many couples bring complaints instead of instructions. "Very, very often, I will have a woman say, 'You're not paying enough attention to me!' Men are very specific and concrete, so I always tell them: 'You need to tell him what that looks like.'" It could be a number of things. Do you need him to hold your hand more in public? Do you need him to ask more questions about your day? You man will want to please you, help him out a little!
Have Fun Together
Your relationship may not look like it did when you first got together but being a couple doesn't have to mean boring drudgery. You may need to revitalize the mood a little, says Windell. Ask yourself if you are devoting all your time to taking care of business and skipping fun time. Make time to laugh and be silly. Tell those inside jokes. "Make sure you keep the joy and laughter in your relationship, as it will strengthen the bond you both deserve," Windell explains.
Goldstein says that one of the biggest issues in relationships is forgetting to take care of your physical connection. Let's be honest, physical couple time can dry right up when you get busy. Men seem to connect better emotionally when they are well connected physically. Make time to touch each other at least, you'll both be glad you did.
Spend Time Together
Sometimes one of you does all the stuff around the home while the other works long hours or travels a lot. Time spent apart can breed resentment and disconnection. Explain that you need more. Explain what that looks like. If travel is a problem, for example, you can Skype every night at a certain time or plan cooking a meal together for your next date night.
Spend Time Apart
"Time" is a delicate balance. No one wants to feel suffocated. This space can be more important for men (although not necessarily) who tend to be wired to connect and then step away again. If you feel yourself getting agitated by each other, schedule a respective girls' and guys' nights. If you take these moments to yourself, to embrace your independent self, it can be a very good thing for your relationship.
Try Something New
Relationships can get into ruts. You can't remember the last time you went away together and every single Friday looks like take out, movie, sleep. Windell recommends putting your efforts into finding something new together. Join a gym together, learn a new sport, try a new restaurant once a month. Take turns planning a 'mystery date night.' The possibilities are endless, you just have to find them. And once you do, you're relationship will feel far less stagnant.
Thank Each Other
Come to your relationship with gratitude and giving. "Loving couples thrive when the relationship is based on reciprocity. Instead of always asking for more, try giving more unconditionally," Windell says. "Make it a point to thank each other on a daily basis for something that was meaningful to you. Research has shown that we can change the chemistry in our brains to choose happiness in a matter of 21 days -- that's being grateful, having meaningful moments, smiling, writing love notes and positive thinking." Do the little things.
Don't let that nagging 'something isn't right' feeling destroy your relationship. You can help make things right again. What are you waiting for? Perform a check up today!
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