Valentine’s Day is such a hotbed of expectation and potential disappointment, even if you are already in a relationship. There can be a lot of pressure on couples to make Valentine’s Day the most romantic day of the year. However, it is my belief that romance shouldn’t happen just because a holiday tells us so. So for Valentine’s Day, I would like to focus on how you can cultivate romance with your partner on any day of the year.
TURNING TOWARDS INSTEAD OF AWAY:
Throughout the day, you and your partner make bids for each other’s attention. Bids show up in small ways like reaching out to hold your hand or talking about an article you found interesting, and more complex ways, like a request for advice or help on an issue you are struggling with. The key to building a strong connection with your partner is to turn towards them when they make these bids for attention.
And, turning towards our partner is a very important thing for the health of the relationship long-term. As part of his research, Dr. John Gottman conducted a study with newlyweds and then followed up with them six years later. The couples that had stayed married turned towards one another 86% of the time. Couples that had divorced averaged only 33% of the time.
So when your partner points out a rainbow while you are driving in the car or when they want to open up about how stressful their day was, these are pivotal and important moments of connection. The more you can be aware and responsive to these bids for connection, the better your relationship will be in the long-term.
STAY INFORMED ABOUT EACH OTHER’S LIVES:
One of the most powerful things you can do in your relationship is to know your partner really well. According to Dr. Gottman, “Emotionally intelligent couples remember all the major events in each other’s history, and continuously, update their information.” Also it’s important, even on a daily basis, to stay informed about what’s happening in each other’s lives.
One way to do this is to ask what your partner’s day is going to look like. What’s one thing they are worried about? Excited about? You can remember that one thing and check in with your partner about how it went when you reconnect that evening.
Another way to know your partner is to ask open-ended questions. This is one of my favorite activities when I go on road trips with my husband or when we go out for date night. Some sample questions might be “If you could have any talent which would you choose and why?” “Who was a person you looked up to as a child?” “What was your proudest moment from the past 6 months?” By asking and exploring these questions, we continue to get to know our partner. (Sometimes we may be surprised at the answers we get and learn something new!)
RITUALS OF CONNECTION:
According to Dr. Gottman, “A ritual of connection is a way of regularly turning towards your partner that can be counted on.”
There are a few ways that we can establish and cultivate daily rituals of connection. It can be having a 5 second hug and kiss when you both come home from work, it can be having dinner together and keeping your phones in the other room, it can be taking a walk around the neighborhood and discussing your day. There are other rituals that don’t have to be daily, such as taking a yearly vacation to your favorite destination or trying out a new restaurant each month. Whatever it is, it is something you both enjoy and can agree to.
Creating this intentional time together keeps you more connected and cultivates more enjoyment and pleasure in your relationship.
By taking these steps on a daily basis, you build, with each little interaction, a more satisfying and healthy relationship that will stand the test of time.
Wishing you love, joy and passion,