I found some great hints in my copy of the Psychotherapy Networker by Steven Stosny, Ph.D., who works with couples and other with relationship problems. You can read more about his programs at CompassionPower. I’m going to quote very liberally from what he wrote, because it is well-done and so concise.
He asks couples to add 3 behaviors to their daily routine. If your spouse isn’t interested in participating, do it anyway. My motto with couples is, “If one person changes, the other is likely to change too!”
1. Gestures. Make some brief, nonverbal acknowledgement of your partner’s importance to you at the four major transitional times in the day:
- Before getting out of bed in the morning
- Before leaving the house
- First thing when you come home
- Last thing at night.
This could be a brief touch, gentle eye contact or just reaching out your hand.
2. Hugs. Hug your partner, in a full-body embrace, six times a day, holding each hug for at least six seconds. Hugs are good for our brain chemistry. They raise our level of oxytocin, the bonding hormone. Don’t worry if it feels awkward at first. Just do it, and try to relax into it. By 5 or 6 seconds, you may be pleasantly surprised.
3. Thoughts. Set aside 5 seconds for a positive thought about your partner at least 5 times a day. This is so important, especially when we are going through tough times. Think of the emotional assets they bring to the relationship, and how they make your life better.
That’s it! 4 transitions, 6×6 hugs, and 5×5 positive thoughts! Creating new habits takes time. Do this for a month, and if you miss a day or two, start over! Let us know what you discover.