Valentine's Day, anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays: these are the rare moments when people typically slow down to appreciate their significant others. Throughout the rest of the year, many couples become passing ships in the night, staying focused on the laundry list of items that take precedent in their busy lives. This is especially true for parents who can barely find time for themselves, let alone their spouse. So how do you rekindle the romance? And how do you connect with your partner during life's hectic moments? The answer is actually quite simple, and it's backed by science.
How to Connect With Your Partner on a Deeper Level
Building a loving and meaningful connection with your partner takes time, effort, and maintenance. This is key to building trust, improving intimacy, and strengthening your commitment to one another. Unfortunately, most people see grand gestures, like buying gifts or planning surprise trips, as the best ways to keep a relationship strong. While undoubtably exciting, these big displays aren't what nurture your connection. Try these techniques instead. Research has proven that they can help you and your partner last a lifetime.
1. Get to Know Each Other, Again
Did you know that there is a recipe for falling in love? According to psychologist Arthur Aron, romance requires three dozen questions and four minutes of continuous eye contact. While this may seem too good to be true, it's important to remember that the meaningful connection you made ten years ago is not the same as it is today. People evolve over time. By getting to know your present day spouse on a deeper level and engaging in honest and open conversation, you can find out new things about them and intensify the love that you already share.
Dr. Aron dedicated his life's work to studying intimacy in interpersonal relationships. He notes that the purpose of this exercise is to generate closeness through the method of self-disclosure. Studies show that being your true self with your significant other is the "key to emotional intimacy in a romantic relationship." Therefore, be vulnerable and go into this exercise with no judgement.
- Try out Dr. Aron's 36 questions that (according to his theory) lead to love.
- Be vulnerable with your partner.
- Address concerns about your relationship, work, money, and your kids. Don't push your feelings under the rug.
- If your significant other says something that you don't agree with, express your opinion!
- When you are truly sad, don't be afraid to cry in front of them. They are your person and they care about your well-being.
- Talk about your hopes, fears, frustrations, and goals for the future regularly.
2. Date Your Spouse or Partner
There's something magical about going on a first date. There is excitement and mystery. This only intensifies as attraction turns to lust and then attachment. Harvard researchers have found that these three feelings bring about a release of hormones that enhance a person's emotional state and create a temporary "high." If you want to deepen your connection with your partner, then don't stop dating them! While it's important to be comfortable around your spouse, you don't want to become complacent in your relationship.
How can you rekindle your old flame? Engage in shared interests, try new things, take the time to explore the city you live in, and spice things up in the bedroom.
If kids are getting in the way, schedule moments of intimacy and make those moments count. Dress up for your spouse, set the mood, and find unique ways to change things up. This can be as simple as enjoying a glass of wine on your patio under the stars, or grabbing a quickie in the shower and enjoying an intimate breakfast in bed before the kids wake up and your busy schedule takes over.
- Send your partner messages in the middle of the day.
- Use your partner's love language to show your continued interest in them (physical touch, quality time together, words of affirmation, acts of service, or gifts).
- Designate two days a month for fun date nights that you plan for each other. Just like when you were first dating, make the plans a surprise, get dolled up, and disconnect from the rest of the world.
- On busy days, Netflix and Chill. Yes, we mean both the literal and figurative definitions of this phrase.
3. Make Little Moments Matter
Speaking of spicing things up, did you know that 79 percent of couples find more intimacy in the kitchen than in the bedroom? They say that certain foods can get you in the mood, but if you really want to connect with your partner on a deeper level, then consider cooking things up in the kitchen! The simple act of making a meal with your spouse forces you to slow down and engage in focused conversation. Your hands will be busy preparing ingredients, so your work, social media, and the outside world can disappear for a moment of your hectic life. Take advantage of these small sections of your day to talk, laugh, and flirt with your spouse.
- Coordinate your workouts. Several studies show this can make you happier in your relationship!
- Go to bed at the same time every night. Surveys show that this enhances a couple's satisfaction in their relationship and their sex life.
- Take a shower together. This can bring you closer together for obvious reasons.
4. Show Kindness in Subtle Ways
Little acts of kindness can go a long way in a relationship. It reminds your significant other that they are an integral part of your world and that you value their presence in it. While buying flowers for your girlfriend or new headphones for your husband are wonderful gestures, the actions that truly make an impact are much smaller. You want to show your partner that you are paying attention to their needs.
Ask yourself, what does your husband need at this exact moment? What could you do to make your wife's life easier in the immediate future? According to The Gottman Institute, practicing mindfulness, being present in the here and now, will help you better understand your partner and "increase your sense of appreciation and gratitude for [them]."
- Bring your partner coffee in bed.
- Take on some of their daily tasks.
- Drop off lunch on a busy workday.
- Give them a night off from the kids.
- Massage their shoulders after a hard day.
- Show them gratitude for completing regular to-dos.
- Pay attention to less obvious wants and needs. Showing an attention to detail can really show that you care!
- Have they said that they wish they had a longer phone charger so that they didn't have to lean off the bed to plug it in? Buy one for $10 at the gas station.
- Does their favorite sweater have a hole in it? Order an exact replacement.
- Do they talk about wanting to lose weight, but struggle to find motivation? Make your date nights more active and implement heathier meal options to help them stay on track.
5. Be Constructive, Not Destructive
When couples are together for a long time, big fights are bound to happen. How you handle these arguments is crucial to maintaining your relationship. In fact, researchers at The Gottman Institute have found that "stable marriages have a 5:1 ratio of positivity to negativity during conflicts." This means that in these heated moments, it's important to take a step back and look at the big picture. Is this the hill you want to die on? Does this topic matter in the grand scheme of things? What could you do to resolve this issue so that you both get what you want?
Compromise is key in any relationship. If one person always wins, then resentment will settle in. This doesn't mean that you have to let go of your values and beliefs. Rather, it's melding your differences into a solution that appeases everyone. However, there will be times when someone in the relationship is genuinely in the wrong. In these moments, it's important that the person accepts responsibility and acknowledges their actions. This admission builds trust and strengthens intimacy.
- Actively listen during arguments.
- Give your partner space after a fight.
- Take the time to consider their point of view.
- Apologize for unkind words.
- Accept responsibility for wrongdoings.
- Never go to bed angry.
Building a Genuine Connection With Your Partner Starts With Love
Those three little words can be powerful when you first hear them, but they tend to lose their luster over time. In order to bring back that connection, elevate the phrase. Your spouse or partner knows you love them, but do they know why? Take the time to recognize these reasons at random times. By saying things like "I love how good you are with our boys," or, "you have the most adorable smile," you will not only let them know what qualities you find most attractive about them, but you'll also raise their self-esteem.
Confidence in a relationship is important to a couple's overall happiness. While couples can hope that loving moments will come up naturally, the reality is that life is busy. Make the effort in the little moments, take time to connect, and it can have a big impact on your future.