5.Taking your partner for granted is “simple to understand but really hard not to do.”
So says Lisa Blum, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist practicing in Pasadena and Los Angeles and specializing in working with couples in emotionally-focused therapy.
Especially if you have kids, you can start to become business partners who solely manage your household, finances and family, she said. The solution? Healthy couples find ways to reconnect and have couples-only time regularly, Blum said. This doesn’t have to be a date night out; you can just as easily connect on your living room couch. Instead of vegging out in front of the TV, though, pick a special movie and order your favorite pizza.
Even just being present with each other for five minutes helps, Blum said. She gave the example of talking over coffee.
6. The little things can help you stay connected.
“Having little predictable rituals that can be counted on as a point of connection” is essential for couples, Blum said. This includes anything from walking the dog on Sunday mornings to having brunch after church to breaking out a bottle of wine every Thursday, she said.
Little gestures, like texting your partner that you’re thinking about them, also go a long way. Blum likens it to keeping plants in your home: You must take care of them regularly, so they don’t wither away. “Small loving affirmation” is “the oil in the engine of a happy relationship.”
7. Checking in with each other helps you stay connected, too.
It’s important to regularly ask: “What have we done to nurture our relationship today?” Blum said. Batshaw referred to this as tak[ing] each other’s pulse and temperature about where you are in the relationship.”
Take stock of your strengths in a relationship.
When thinking about your relationship as a whole, Batshaw suggested taking stock of your strengths. Separately, ask yourselves, “What do I do well?” “What do I feel I’m bringing to the relationship that’s really positive? What do we do as a couple that’s really positive?” Take an honest assessment of your weaknesses, too. “In what areas do I feel like I need to improve? As a couple, what areas do we need to focus more attention on?”
8. Be able to talk about tough topics.
This advice comes from Kristen Morrison, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist at The Colorado Center for Clinical Excellence.
Communication is key to making relationships work. Couples need to be able to talk about “areas of disagreement without it turning into a big fight or avoiding [the topic],” she said. And there’s “no need to be afraid because you’re going to be attacked by your partner,” Batshaw said.
By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.