The Four R’s to Refreshing Your Relationship

Marriage is hard. It takes work to make it a lasting relationship. And, there will be days (weeks, months) that you will not want to put in the time and effort. No two people are the same and even the happiest of couples will have things that create tension between them. Or the relationship may have been running on auto-pilot for a while and has become stagnant. In any event, this may be the time to put in some time and get things back on track.

Romance

It might surprise you to know that 33 percent more men than women wish their partner were more romantic. Often when people think about romance, they think in terms of fancy dinners and expensive outings. Hollywood has glorified grandiose romantic gestures, but those usually happen only once in a lifetime, if at all. And there is no way they can compare to all of the tiny little ways you can show love such as sending your sweetie a card in the mail at work, or putting a sticky note with a heart drawn on it in his briefcase. It’s the little things that make us feel loved and wanted – there’s nothing hotter than that!

Studies have shown that being lightly affectionate with your partner in a non-sexual manner relieves stress by lowering your blood pressure. So the next time you feel tense or anxious – hug it out. Just the simple act of holding hands while taking a walk can do wonders for your heart in more ways than one.

Reconnect

Make a commitment for the two of you to have time alone on a regular basis. There are a lot of different ways to do this: Have a date once a week or twice a month. Even if that means ordering take out and watching a movie at home. Or spend an entire day together once a month without the kids. Go to a baseball game, walk through antique shops, or snuggle at the movies. Visit old stomping grounds or try someplace new. The important thing is to take time to laugh, play and just breathe while remembering how important your relationship truly is.

You can also reconnect by making plans for the future. Those plans can include spending more quality time together or working towards a common goal such as saving for a nice vacation or remodeling the house. Sharing dreams builds trust and helps the two of you communicate more intimately.

Respect

Many relationships suffer from communication meltdowns because they don’t know how to talk to one another. They may be overly critical or invalidate their partner’s feelings by saying something like, “You’re overreacting as always.” Or they may give their partner the silent treatment which only creates more confusion and animosity.

When there is discord – and there will be – ease into the conversation “softly” by acknowledging their point of view. And then ask for the same reciprocation while you give yours. You’ll also want to take responsibility for your role in whatever the conflict may be about. This validates your partner and lets them know you’re willing to work through this.

Also, don’t hoard your resentments until you’re ready to explode at the slightest provocation. Not only does this undermine your own feelings, but it sets a negative tone for future discussions. If something is bugging you, go ahead and air it out as it occurs – respectfully.

Readjustment

Sometimes relationships need a serious readjustment to get back on track. Many couples simply don’t know how to communicate and handle conflict. However, a qualified therapist can teach you important relationship skills that will be useful at any stage of your relationship, whether you’ve just become engaged, are living together, recently married, or have been together for decades.