Do you feel alone in your relationship? Are you and your partner moving further and further away from each other? Do you want to reconnect on a deeper emotional level?
We have put together some helpful tips to help you and your loved one reconnect and bond. These tips are primarily based on the latest scientific research from Dr. John Gottman, Dr. Sue Johnson, and Dr. Stan Tatkin. We highly recommend you read their books if you would like to learn more!
Rebuild your bond today with these helpful tips & strategies:
- Have a gratitude notebook in a common area where you and your partner can write notes of appreciation in it. Jot down things that you love about your partner, what you enjoy doing with them, and words of affirmation. (Positive reinforcement and acknowledgement go a long way)
- Follow the 5:1 ratio. For every negative comment, balance it out with 5 positive ones.
- Pick your battles. When you feel frustrated, slow down, take a few deep breaths and step away. Ask yourself if this issue will matter in 5 years or if your partner was gone tomorrow.
- Avoid "kitchen-sinking"! Don't bring up past issues (dirty dishes) in an argument; stick to 1 issue at a time. You can't fix or clean everything all at once.
- Bring up an issue relatively soon; don't let the anger grow inside of you for days or weeks. Don't let things build up.
- When in an argument, truly try to see your partner's perspective and balance it with your perspective. Both of your needs matter and you are both valuable. See how you can both meet in the middle.
- Remind yourself why you love your partner. Don't let the little flaws overpower the greater love that you have for each other.
- Use the "Assertiveness Formula":
- When you
- I feel
- I need/want
- Can we make this work?
- Practice a "soft startup" when bringing up an issue. Be gentle and use "I" language rather than blaming language, but still bring up your points. Avoid name calling and patronizing.
- Accept apologies when they are sincere. This helps to truly repair the relationship.
- Take responsibility when you should and apologize.
- Know your triggers as well as your partner's triggers. Make a pact to respect each other. (Read: Wired for Love - Dr. Stan Tatkin)
- Notice when your emotions start to take over. Tell your partner that you need a 20 minute (minimum) break to recollect your thoughts. Step away and breathe. Remind yourself why you love your partner and what is really important. Avoid ruminating on your anger towards your partner as this will make the anger grow. Go back when you are ready. Make sure you both don't sweep this issue under the rug.
- Plan date nights at home and outside the home at least twice a month.
- Reminisce on when you first met. Talk about happy and funny memories that you have with each other.
- Avoid giving advice right off the bat. When your partner shares an issue with you, ask if they need you to listen or to help them problem solve.
- Avoid jumping to conclusions and assumptions. When you are upset, ask yourself, "What is the story I am telling myself?". Then, see if the facts fit your story. Ask your partner if the story fits. (Based on Dr. Brené Brown's research)
- Avoid the 4 Horses of the Apocalypse: Contempt, Criticism, Defensiveness, Stonewalling (see handout by Dr. John Gottman)
- Don't play games; tell your partner what really makes you happy. Don't expect them to read your mind; tell them how you really feel.
- Truly listen when you partner is sharing with you and ask for the same. Validate each other's emotions without judgement. This allows for emotional safety.
- Be present. Put down your phone, turn off the TV and have deep conversations. Truly connect, make eye contact, cuddle, laugh, cry, just be.
- Figure out what your love language is as well as your partner's. Take the quiz or buy the book (5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman)
- Invest in yourself and maintain your identity. Don't lose yourself or sacrifice what makes you happy. Maintain healthy hobbies and acts of self-care.
- If needed, seek professional help to learn effective ways to communicate with each other and learn how to connect on a deeper emotional level. There is no shame in this as well all need can benefit from learning new strategies and skills.
Written by Vanessa Goodchild, Registered Psychologist
How well do you know your partner?
What is your love language?
Various quizzes on attachment styles, marriage satisfaction, etc.
- The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work - Dr. John Gottman
- Wired for Love - Dr. Stan Tatkin
- Love & War in Intimate Relationships - Dr. Stan Tatkin
- The 5 Love Languages - Gary Chapman
- Hold Me Tight - Dr. Sue Johnson
- Love Sense - Dr. Sue Johnson
If you are still have trouble connecting and resolving conflict fairly, consider meeting with one of our Registered Psychologists who specialize in couples counselling. Every couple needs a little help getting back on track once in a while.