Jackie Schwartz, LMFT
Small Things Often
Successful relationships and how we perceive our partners are based on a series of interactions and gestures both big and small. It’s important to consistently do things in our relationship that demonstrate care, investment, trust and commitment.
You might be surprised to know that it doesn’t take a major overhaul in your relationship to maintain lasting connection. When I counsel couples, I advocate for them to make small changes but done often enough to make a lasting impact. According to John Gottman, “couples who do the following small things often and repair conflict when it arises, will create a path towards a more intimate, trusting and satisfying relationship”.
The first small thing I discuss with my couples is partings and the 6 second kiss! Prior to parting in the morning, spend 2-5 minutes talking with your partner and discuss what’s on the agenda for the day, including one interesting thing that he/she might experience. Remember to say goodbye with a kiss or hug that lasts at least 6 seconds.
Remember to show affection like kissing, holding and touching each other. Be playful with how you show affection and make sure to kiss or touch each other at partings, reunions and before going to bed. Do your best to practice a lingering kiss whenever possible.
Another positive gesture towards your relationship is sharing admiration and appreciation. Gottman states that “maintaining a loving relationship requires action and expression”. It’s not enough to have appreciative thoughts about your partner; it’s really important to say them out loud and let him or her know. Expressing these thoughts of affection and appreciation helps build a loving foundation.
The following are ways to express admiration and appreciation: Share something about your partner’s personality and an incident where your partner demonstrated that characteristic. For example: “I love that you are so (kind, caring, playful, funny, thoughtful, understanding), especially last night when you volunteered with the abandoned animals”. Make an effort to catch your partner doing something “right” and say thanks for it. Send an email or text during the day to let your partner know that you are thinking about her or him.
Unfortunately, conflict is inevitable in any relationship. We all have arguments and at times we say and do the wrong thing. One of the most important things we can do after a conflict is to be able to process it without getting back into the fight all over again where we hurt each other. According to Gottman’s processing the aftermath of a regrettable incident, “to process means to talk about the fight without getting upset about it again”. It’s important for both partners to understand that there is no absolute reality in a disagreement.
Rather, there are two subjective realities that are dependent upon each partner’s perspective. The goal is to talk about what happened as if you were watching it on television. If this sounds like emotional Olympics, then you may need to start out smaller. Going to a qualified therapist will help guide you through productive, evidenced-based communication skills that make processing the aftermath of a fight easier so that a conflict doesn’t overshadow the positive sentiment you have towards your partner.
If you practice some of these small things often each week, it’s very likely that you will see positive changes and be surprised how quickly positive feelings can grow that will create the close and intimate relationship that you want.
For more information on this subject stay tuned and if negative thinking and negative self talk is something that you struggle with, contact me here for your complimentary consultation to discuss how I can be helpful!