5 Tips for a Successful Relationship by Lesley Malik, M.A. MFT
Friday September 30, 2011see more by jen
Before kids, I never used to get when people said “marriage takes work” because my husband and I were so compatible our relationship used to feel effortless.
But those were the days when, just for an example, we would sleep in on Saturday morning, have breakfast together, read the paper, maybe go for a bike ride or go grocery shopping together, hit a movie, go to a home store to buy stuff to work on our house, make dinner together or maybe go out for dinner and drinks, you get the idea.
Every weekend, all weekend it was just the two of us. And what that meant was we had a lot of TIME to focus on each other, talk and connect. No wonder it felt so easy!
Now after kids, I can absolutely see how marriage does take work. Anyone else feel the same?
There are stretches of time when I feel like we are both just totally immersed in “Operation Scheumann Household.” We are a cooperative team focused on everything we need to do to take care of the kids and our household. Kids, activities, cleaning, shopping, birthday parties, organizing, work, bills, etc. etc. And unfortunately “Operation Scheumann Marriage” is often a neglected mission!
It started to bum me out last year because I really love being with my husband, a lot. But with two young children, the time we had with just the two of us started to become far and few between. At one point, there was a four month stretch between date nights. Not good!
So, this past year we really have tried to make a conscious effort to do more regular “date nights” and it has made a big difference. Just an hour and a half to put on a cute outfit and get away someplace is all it takes to feel more connected again. But even this hour and a half takes effort, planning, babysitting, etc. It’s not easy, but it is worth it.
I got to thinking that we can’t be the only ones that have to work to fit in time to devote to our marriage in parenthood, so I asked Lesley Malik, an Orange County individual and couples therapist, if she could write some helpful tips on how to work on strengthening your relationship.
I love what she wrote because they are all things that are easy to do. Here is what she wrote…
5 Tips for a Successful Relationship
by Lesley Malik, M.A. MFT
1. Be curious about your partner’s world – people who have successful relationships stay curious about their partners. Think about whether you could answer questions like:
* What is my partner most looking forward to this week?
* What is the most challenging thing that he/she has to do this week?
* What are his/her deepest fears?
* What are his/her fondest dreams?
* If he/she could change one thing about themselves what would it be?
2. Notice and acknowledge the small things that your partner does for you each day, whether it be bringing you your coffee in the morning or offering to takeover bath time for baby. Your partner is much more likely to want to do nice things for you when they know you notice and appreciate them.
3. Do things together away from the kids. Find a hobby, sport or activity that you both enjoy and make the time to pursue it regularly. At the very least, make sure you have regular “date nights.”
4. Be open to hearing your partners complaints without getting defensive – easier said than done I know, but truly the only way to resolve conflicts. Try not to see your conflicts in terms of “right” and “wrong” but as differences in perception or understanding.
5. Finally, make sure to stay in physical contact with your partner. I’m not just talking about sex, but holding hands, hugging, cuddling on the couch watching your favorite TV show, a kiss when you greet each other at the end of the day, an affectionate pat or rub as you pass each other. Every touch helps to keep the connection between you alive and well.
I’m Lesley Malik, M.A MFT, a licensed psychotherapist practicing in Irvine, CA. I work with individuals and couples to help them create better relationships and happier, more fulfilling lives. Call me for confidential, caring and collaborative counseling.
What are your tips on how you work on your relationship? I would love to hear from you! Please comment below!