5 Relationship Habits to Commit to for the New Year

5 Relationship Habits to Commit to for the New Year

Here are five habits that are easy to integrate into your daily life, and will quickly enhance good feelings all around while tempering the challenging ones.

Often when we enter the New Year we take time to review where we’ve been, assess where we want to go, and set intentions around those things most important to us. We listen to health experts give advice about what we can do now for our bodies that will pay off in the long run, and financial experts around how much to put away now for our future financial goals.

It’s also an important moment to remember to invest in the most significant and impactful part of our lives: our intimate relationships.

Just like our savings accounts and exercise regimens, we need to feed and nurture our relationships; not only so we feel connected in the present moment, but to make them strong enough to weather the future storms, when they come.

The most significant thing you can do to help your relationship during challenging times is to make sure you have regular habits of connecting with one another.

This will give you a much needed feeling of confidence that you care about each other, you want each other, you have great times together, and you will still be there for one another when the clouds pass.

Here are five habits that are easy to integrate into your daily life, and will quickly enhance good feelings all around while tempering the challenging ones.

Habit 1: Date Night

Couples need at least one intimate date time set aside each week to have space to sink in, reconnect, and create enough good feeling juice to last the entire week. I recommend dates to be at the same time every week if possible, so the time is blocked off and always reserved. It can be during the day or night, and it should be at least two hours–just the two of you!–and involve leaving the house. I have my couples rotate turns planning the date each week so you each get a chance to be the giver and the receiver. Try to avoid movies or shows where you are not interacting with another; or, if your date involves these make sure there is ample other time to connect before and after the show.

Habit 2: 30 Minutes to Connect

During the week between dates keep the connection going strong with 30 minutes each day to find each other again. Depending on your schedules it can be 15 minutes when you wake up and 15 before bed, or 30 minutes when you come home from work to share how your days were. Do what works for you both, but I recommend it be a regular rhythm so it becomes a solid habit. It’s not a time to go over logistics or compare checklists. Use this time to check in with how you’re each feeling, touch and cuddle, share stories from the day, or do what you know works for you to slow down and connect.

Habit 3: Scanning for Love

With stressful, busy lives our brains are trained to constantly be scanning for potential problems and ways to guard against them. Unfortunately, this innate habit is very harmful for our relationships. We tend to sub-consciously look for ways our partners haven’t picked up a mess, paid attention to us in certain ways that feel good, didn’t get home on time, didn’t follow through on their word, or whatever the very thing is that bothers us the most. To counteract this we need to make special effort to train ourselves to also scan for all the ways they are contributing to the relationship and making effort to make us feel good.

Habit 4: Love Bytes

In between those weekly date nights and 30 minutes broken up over a day, a nice way to keep your connection going is to send quick love bytes through texts, voicemails, or emails, sharing little thoughts you have that you’d like to share with your partner or let them know you’re thinking of them. Just one or two messages per day creates a much more solid feeling of connection throughout the entire day.

Habit 5: Daily Appreciation

While you’re scanning for love, you will notice more and more things you appreciate that your partner is doing. In addition, you’ll start to see things about your partner that you appreciate, such as personality traits or physical characteristics. Make it a point to share at least one of these things every day so your partner remembers how much you like and value them. Challenge yourself by trying to come up with something new each day. This will also help reinforce your positive scanning habits.

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While these habits won’t take a large amount of time or effort each day, with consistency they will create a marked, felt difference around the amount of positive feelings you experience in your relationship.

It always feels good to know you’re loved and appreciated, and that your favorite person is thinking about you. If these habits become solid, this could be your best relationship year yet!

 

Shena Jade Jensen, MFTi, San Francisco couples counselor

Shena holds a master’s degree in integral counseling from the California Institute of Integral Studies, and works with couples with a variety of presentations including premarital therapy, trauma, sex issues, betrayal, pregnancy, coparenting, communication challenges, and multicultural backgrounds. Her approach combines Western psychology with Eastern spirituality and utilizes the proven research on the importance of the neurobiology of attachment along with mindfulness and somatic awareness. She has training in The Gottman Method, Imago Therapy, and EFT, and is married with two children. Read More

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