4 Ways to Strengthen Your Relationship
After that romantic kiss at midnight, do you really want to go back to the boring, repetitive motions you and your partner went through last year? Get out of the relationship rut and back to the butterflies with advice from the experts. Here are four ways to strengthen your relationship in 2022.
1. Follow the “Bids”
Renowned psychologist and relationship guru John Gottman found “bids” to be one of the biggest drivers for healthy, lasting relationships. Bids are essentially moments where you put yourself out there in the hopes of receiving attention or affection from your partner. They are the subtle, more socially acceptable ways of saying, “Connect with me!” If you come home and let out a long sigh, your partner can ignore it, come give you a hug, or say, “You okay?” That sigh is a bid for attention—you’re trying to communicate that you’re tired, and maybe a little sad.
Other bids are more obvious. If your partner lifts their arm up on the couch and says, “Come cuddle,” you can respond in a few different ways. You can lean into it by scooting closer, you can quietly shake your head and sit still, or you can retaliate by groaning and saying, “Do we have to?”
Gottman found that the couples who stayed together responded to each other’s bids 86% of the time. The couples who split up only leaned into the bids 33% of the time. So throw out some bids to connect with your partner this new year! When the room gets quiet, offer a bid to hold hands, feed them a bite, or reminisce on your favorite times together.
2. Make Every Day Fun
When life starts looking the same every day, you may fall into the trap of thinking that something is wrong with the relationship. Really, you are just growing comfortable with each other. To enjoy every day with your partner, make the little parts of every day something to look forward to.
If you’re both coffee lovers, instead of just starting the morning pot, walk them a mug in bed! What was formerly a neutral part of every day is now a moment to connect.
Consider the parts of your day that maybe aren’t so fun. Doing the laundry, breaking down recycling boxes, cooking… How can you turn these into energy-giving, ritualistic parts of every day? Could you do laundry together to enjoy each other’s presence? Make it a friendly competition of who can break down the most boxes first. Designate a nightly chef and a taste-tester while you’re both in the kitchen. Once you learn to celebrate the little things together, every day becomes more beautiful.
3. Help Your Partner In Silence
While intimacy and communication are important factors in any relationship, sometimes it’s the little things that mean the most. If you’ve been with your partner for a while, you have probably picked up on some of their regular tasks.
During times of stress, instead of asking them to come up with something for you to do to help, give it a solid effort on your own! Think of what their night normally looks like and how you can make it easier for them.
Wash your bedsheets to help them unwind at the end of the day, take their car in for an oil change, or simply do the family dishes before they do.
4. Make Daily Plans a Conversation Rather Than an Assumption
Spending every day together is exciting at first, but over time, ending the day with TV becomes a sleepy, habitual thing to do. Ask yourself: does it actually relax and bring you guys together? There are plenty of couples who live together but don’t experience deep intimacy. So plan for it!
This year, challenge yourself to end every work day by saying, “What do you want to do tonight?” Make it a conversation instead of an assumption. You never know who could throw out ideas of bowling, flipping through old photo albums, or having pancakes for dinner.
However, the best way to strengthen your relationship is attending couples counseling! Grow as a team by scheduling an appointment with one of our expert therapists today.