Marriage Counseling Insights brought to you by California Psychotherapeutic Resources, Inc.
It’s the rare couple who says, nope, our relationship is perfect — nothing to improve here. Add in the stress of forced changes in lifestyle over the last 18 months — from a hiatus in dining out to postponed vacations — and this just might be the ideal time to make a commitment to improve your romantic relationship. With that in mind, here are four tips t reignite the spark.
Develop A Good Relationship With Yourself
The place to begin improving your relationship with others, including your partner, is right there in the mirror: yourself. Writing for PsychologyToday.com, Mark Travers, Ph.D. says, “Psychotherapists often say that good relationships start with the relationship we have with ourselves — and that people with insecure attachment styles, low self-esteem or self-worth, or depression will struggle to maintain strong connections with others.”
Find A Common Goal
People reacted to the enforced lifestyle changes during the pandemic in a variety of ways. But research is showing some commonsense insights. According to the Travers, this means that: “Successful couples were more likely to:
- Spend quality time together.
- Plan for the future.
- Focus on goals.”
Express And Reinforce Your Commitment
There are a lot of contributing factors to healthy romantic relationships. For many people trust, support, passion and sexual frequency spring to mind as keys to success. Important as these factors may be, research adds some twists to the subject. As an example, Travers says “A recent study of over 11,000 romantic couples found that people who viewed their partner as (1) highly committed to the relationship and (2) highly appreciative of their partner’s love were most likely to be in healthy long-term relationships.” So add commitment and a willingness to express that commitment to the attributes deserving of some self-reflection.
Respect Your Differences
There’s some truth in the old saying opposites attract. Even if you don’t completely agree with that aphorism, it’s hard to get away from the fact that there are significant differences between two people — especially a man and a woman — in any relationship no matter how compatible they are. Recent research backs this up. Travers points to a study in the Journal of Personality that shows “women scored higher on the personality dimensions of sensitivity, anxiety, apprehension, warmth, complexity, and openness to change, while men scored higher on dutifulness, emotional stability stability and assertiveness. The largest difference was in the sensitivity dimension. Women were consistently more sensitive, aesthetic, sentimental, intuitive, and tender‐minded while men were more utilitarian, objective, unsentimental, and tough‐minded.” While these are admittedly significant differences, the secret just may be to appreciate those differences. Or, as the old French saying goes, vive la difference.