Put anxiety at bay and romance in the air with your Partner

This time of year is often accompanied with anxiety and pressure to do something special for your partner, along with hopes that your partner will do the same for you. But why not take the pressure off both of you and practice intentional connection, creating special moments all year long?

For many of us this task might feel impossible. Perhaps you work long hours, have multiple children, or have a variety of other responsibilities besides creating romantic moments for you and your partner. As a couples therapist I often see intentional connection falling to the back burner, only tended to when there is ample free time. When I ask couples how important connection is to them the answer almost invariably is, “very important”. When I in turn ask how much effort they put into planning and cultivating connection the answer is often, “very little”. There seems to be an expectation that romance and connection are things that should come naturally with little planning needed. This belief can be damaging to relationships because the reality is that creating happy relationships, whether it’s with a romantic partner, family, or a friend take work!

Below are a few of my favorite tips for cultivating connection with your partner.

TIP 1: Be curious with your partner

It’s amazing how often we just assume we know what our partner wants. Instead, be curious! Below are a few questions you and your partner can ask each other to refresh each other’s memories on what romance and connection looks like for each of you:

  • What makes you feel close to me?
  • What sort of actions, phrases, and touching make you feel loved and wanted?
  • What time of day are you feeling most emotionally available to sit and talk with me?
  • What activities do you enjoy doing with me?

TIP 2: Come up with a plan

This part might not sound very romantic, but sit down with your partner and look at your calendars together. Using your schedules as a guide, set aside both small daily opportunities (10 – 30 minutes), in addition to larger weekly or monthly plans like a day hike or night out to dinner. During your planning meeting it’s important to talk to your partner about how your energy levels might be different at different times. Perhaps when you come home from work you’re exhausted and need time to be alone, but your partner feels more energetic at the end of the day. This mismatch would be an important opportunity for the two of you to discuss how you could meet in the middle and manage each other’s expectations. The goal of this discussion should be to remove as many barriers to connection as possible.

TIP 3: Identify a small daily moment to connect

Romance and connection doesn’t have to look like chocolates, flowers, and grand gestures. Connection can be something as simple as enjoying 10 minutes of coffee together with your phones turned off. Here are some examples below if you’re not sure where to start:

  • Implementing a 10 minute “check in” before bed where each of you share a few highlights from your day.
  • Set up a separate e-mail account, or buy a journal, and write each other weekly letters that express love and gratitude for one another.
  • Look for opportunities to create ritual or routine that involves the two of you being near each other with a reprieve from electronic devices for a designated period of time.

The quality of our relationships have a significant impact on our well-being. If you’re someone who identifies your intimate relationship as being important to you, experiment with these strategies and see what differences you notice. If you need help, please don’t hesitate to ask. Counselors and therapists are ready to be your support and guide.

 

Abby Kulkin, MA, CDP, LMFTA

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