- 27 Expert Tips To Be Closer To Your...
27 Expert Tips To Be Closer To Your Spouse - QualitySolicitors
As the honeymoon period begins to fade, it can become too easy to deprive your loved one of attention.
Stress, caused by work, family, life – or all of these – can cause us to forget to focus on our spouse. If allowed to become a habit, this can cause the spark to flicker.
We’ve collated tips from leading relationship experts to help stop the flame from burning out altogether. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been together a year or 25, these tips will help ensure you and your loved one never forget how much you mean to each other.
Being vulnerable is OK
“When we start a relationship, we like to feel in control - powerful even - to protect ourselves from the vulnerability that comes with opening up to a lover,” says David Waters.
“We may carry the hurt from past relationships, so we protect ourselves by trying to appear in control,” he says, suggesting the bond between you and your partner will actually improve when you trust them with your fears and anxieties.
Be honest about your emotions
Katie and Gay Hendricks believe expressing your emotions not only allows you to avoid bottling things up, it helps you feel closer to your significant other too.
“When you share your feelings – even the difficult ones – you let them into your heart, and give them permission to share how they’re feeling.
“Now you can focus your attention on what’s really happening between you, instead of fighting, presuming or misinterpreting.
“And you feel more trust and appreciation because you’ve shared a difficult truth. You feel close because you realise your emotions are safe.”
Discuss your week
Catch up regularly about what worked, or didn’t, in the last week and how to improve next week, to ensure you’re both happy with how things are moving.
“Additionally, use this opportunity to get on the same page with your schedules,” says Allison Cohen. “Plan a date night and talk about what you would like to see happen in the coming days, weeks, and months in your relationship.”
This chat doesn’t have to feel like a formal office meeting; it’s only important you connect with each other as, if anything gets left unsaid, resentment can build.
if you want something, ask
“Over time, we assume our partner knows us so well we don’t need to ask for what we want,” says Allison, believing this sets us up for failure by creating high expectations that are soon deflated.
“Those unmet expectations can leave us questioning the viability of our partnership and connection,” she says.
Don’t leave anything down to assumption and ensure you both discuss your needs to avoid feeling let down.
Look them in the eye
An excellent way to show you’re listening is to look your spouse in the eye when talking to them.
“You impart to them that you’re paying attention, you care and you’re listening,” says Jonathan Alpert.
“Don’t stare at him or her dead in the eyes, as this can be seen as too intense. Rather, look slightly off centre, to the left or right of the eye.
“We will always be a mystery to each other; it’s healthier for this to be acknowledged - celebrated even - than denied.”
Being empathetic helps you connect with your other half. According to Jonathan, this can be accomplished through both verbal and non-verbal means.
“Providing comments, such as ‘yes’ or ‘I understand’ while they are speaking will help them to feel listened to,” he says.
“Non-verbal ways to build rapport and show you care would be to sit with an open stance, as opposed to folded arms, and to nod reassuringly.”
Leave yourself out of the conversation
You risk alienating your partner if you’re regularly interrupting their conversation with comments like ‘that’s exactly what I went through.’
“Usually people, on an emotional level, don’t have the same experiences,” says Jonathan.
“So, by saying that you did, you might end up showing a lack of sensitivity and may minimise their experience.”
Instead, learn to listen and allow them to express the situation from their point of view.
Don’t jump to a solution
“Sometimes what people want - and need - is simply someone to listen and not necessarily provide a solution,” says Jonathan.
Similarly to keeping yourself out of the conversation, at times the best course of action is purely to listen.
If your spouse is talking about work, for example, they may prefer to vent than have you suggest a solution. In addition, if you’re attempting to find an answer it can cause you to stop listening.
“If they ask for your advice, that’s a different story and, of course, you can provide it.”
Keep it sexy
Discussing what you each find sexy and ‘unsexy’ will keep things exciting by increasing sexy behaviours and limiting those that aren’t.
“Think about this in the broadest form,” says Allison. “Sexy can certainly refer to bedroom preferences, but it also represents what excites us about our mate in our day-to-day lives.”
To keep the spark alive, communicate with each other about specific habits or gestures you like - or don’t.
Compliments help get things done
Sandwiching a request amongst a compliment is a great way to ask your partner to help you with something.
“Start with a heartfelt statement of appreciation,” says Diana Kirschner. “Then fill in the end of this sentence with the specific thing you would like your partner to say or do. For example: ‘Sweetheart, I always feel wonderful after I get to chat with you. I would really love it if we could go for a walk and talk.’
“After you set the table with appreciation and gratitude, you are much more likely to get what you need and want in your relationship.”
Become an expert on your partner
At times, we focus so much on what we think our partner wants we fail to think about them and clarify what actually makes them happy.
Allison says: “Remember, if it’s important to your partner, it doesn’t have to make sense to you. You just have to do it.”
If they have irritations or habits you find strange, don’t allow them to cause arguments, just learn to accept and respect them.
Rid yourself of distractions
“Life and work distractions can become paramount in our minds and that leaves little time or energy for our partner,” says Allison, suggesting the art of ‘Wearing the Relationship Hat.’
“This means (excluding any emergencies or deadlines), we are fully present when we're with our mate.
“We truly hear what they are saying (instead of pretending to listen), we leave our distractions behind and we don’t pick them up again until the sun comes up and we walk out the door.”
Take interest in their day
It’s easy for us to mentally check out at the end of the day, placing too much reliance on: ‘How was your day?’
“Generally, that boring question will yield a boring answer, such as: ‘Fine, how was yours?’” says Allison. “This does nothing to improve your connection and, instead, can actually damage it because you're losing the opportunity to regularly connect in a small way.”
Instead, she suggests mixing it up with questions like: ‘What made you smile today?’ Or, ‘What was the most challenging part of your day?’
“You’ll be amazed at the answers you’ll get, with the added benefit of gaining greater insight into your significant other.”
Seek to understand, not agree
“Conversations quickly turn to arguments when we're invested in hearing our partner admit that we were right, or when we are intent on changing his/her opinion,” says Allison.
She suggests you “approach a conversation as an opportunity to understand your significant other’s perspective, as opposed to waiting for them to concede.”
This should help encourage an engaging dialogue and prevent a blow out or lingering frustration.
Cruel isn’t kind
Research has shown a relationship where one, or both, sneer at, talk down to, or ridicule their spouse isn’t likely to last.
“Those in successful relationships hardly ever speak to each other that way, even when angry,” says David. “If you find you want to be cruel to your partner, ask yourself what’s really going on.
“The fact they haven’t made the bed is never really the issue – it’s far more likely you fear this means they don’t care about you. Instead of attacking your partner for their laziness, show your true feelings.”
Dig deep to unearth true feelings
In a disagreement, it’s often difficult to pull away from ‘top layer’ emotions, like anger and annoyance, which can encourage confusion, defensiveness and distract from the real issue.
Allison suggests: “Start communicating from the ‘bottom layer’ (i.e. the feelings really driving your reactions, such as disappointment, rejection, loneliness, disrespect etc.).
“This type of expression creates an instant sense of empathy because it requires honesty and vulnerability to share from this space. Tension will dissipate and, from here, solutions can spring.
“Just be sure to use kind, non-reactive phrasing when expressing these bottom layer feelings, such as “I felt hurt by…”
Call for a time out
Calling for a time out can be a great way to calm an argument down before it gets too heated.
“As you see the stress beginning to escalate, one or both of you can call a break so that cooler heads can prevail,” suggests Allison.
“The crux of this tool lies in the fact that you must pick a specific time to revisit the conversation so that closure can be achieved.”
Apologise like you mean it
Apologising is a great thing, but only when you really mean it.
“Saying things like ‘I’m sorry you feel that way’ or ‘I’m sorry you see it that way’ are a waste of time and breath,” says Allison. “Even if you don’t agree that your action was wrong, you will never successfully argue a feeling.”
By accepting your partner is hurt you can make a real apology with significant impact.
“When you love your partner and hurt them (intentionally or not) you can always legitimately apologise for the pain you caused regardless of your perspective on what you did or didn’t do.”
Distractions don’t work
Busying yourself with other people or tasks is far from the best way to figure out whether you’re still happy with your partner.
“People often want to feel loved by their partner before they begin the hard work of trying to repair their relationship,” says Janis Abrahms Springs.
“But I’ve often found the opposite works; feelings of love may blossom after you've recommitted, taken a fair share of responsibility for what went wrong in the relationship, and treated your partner in ways that foster trust and intimacy.”
‘Play’ at your relationship
Instead of ‘working’ at a relationship, learn to ‘play’ at it.
“‘Work’ feels heavy and makes us think of future struggles,” David says. “Whereas ‘playfulness’ engages the things you associate with good times, childhood comforts and moments of spontaneity.
“You’re coming at the difficult things in life with humour and a lightness of touch. A couple that can laugh together, even mid-row, is in a healthy place.”
Giving can help you reconnect
It’s not only receiving gifts that makes us feel attached to our partners, but giving them too.
“Thinking about what matters to them, then consciously reaching out with acts of consideration and affection will not only make them feel closer to you, it may help you to feel closer to them,” says Janis.
Relive your first year
After a few years, it’s not unusual for us to start getting a little lazy in relationships; losing our patience, understanding and generally making less effort than we once did.
“Think back to the first year of your relationship and write down all the things you used to do for your partner,” suggests Allison. “Now start doing them again.”
Take some me time
Sometimes the secret to a stronger relationship is learning to spend time away from each other.
David suggests taking time out from work and relationships to pursue hobbies is beneficial for you and your partner.
“You will come back to the relationship refreshed, more able to express your needs, as you’re more likely to know what they are.
“We will always ultimately be a mystery to each other –it’s healthier for this to be acknowledged, celebrated even, than denied.”
Think of your relationship as seasons
“Instead of thinking of your relationship as an arc - with a beginning, middle and an end - try to think of it in terms of the seasons; spring, summer, autumn and winter,” says David.
He believes this outlook can help during big changes in a relationship, like when a couple have a baby.
“Despite the joy babies bring, they often feel like a bomb going off in a relationship; the exhausting demands of parenthood can feel overwhelming,” David says. “Yet get through those first few winters of despondency and there will more than likely be the spring of renewal and love rediscovered.”
Stop blocking love from your life
Katie and Gay believe most of us struggle more with receiving love than giving it.
“Our need to constantly do, manage, control and protect, ends up getting in our way of fully enjoying and savouring the gift of someone else’s affection and admiration,” they say, highlighting two key ‘love blockers.’
- Not being present: “Because there are so many other things clamouring for our attention these days, we often aren’t really listening when our partners are talking to us.
- If we can’t be with our partners in the moment and really hear what they are saying to us, we are unable to fully receive their love and attention.”
- Not loving yourself: “When we believe, deep down inside of us, that we aren’t worthy of love, then it’s impossible for us to find genuine love, and create true intimacy with our partner.
“If you don’t feel worthy of love, you can’t truly let others love you. You block it, don’t believe it, or reject it entirely.”
If you recognise the above in your behaviour then addressing it will help you to stop blocking your partner’s affections.
Become a ‘we’
When we’re upset or angry about something in our life, it’s easy to forget the effect this might have on our loved one.
If single, it’s more acceptable to shout at the TV or opt for hours of silence after a bad day; in a relationship, this can be unfair on our partner.
“When you’re in a relationship and you project your feelings onto your partner, you partner will sense that you’re going through something and thus change the way he or she is interacting with you,” says Barton Goldsmith.
“However, a sensitive mate can usually see a mood coming and, with ‘we’ attitude in gear, may be able to circumvent an uncomfortable situation.”
Co-dependence - when a couple can connect completely when needed, whilst retaining a feeling that they have their own lives – is the key.
“Life as a ‘we’ won’t fray the fabric of your individuality,” he says. “It weaves a new dimension that allows you to get more out of life by experiencing it through the heart of another.”
Switch off the TV and start getting creative with your time together; ditch dinner and a film for something more exciting.
“On a budget and can’t go big? Jump on the internet to look for ‘cheap date ideas’ and be blown away at the plethora of options,” Allison says.
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