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FEATURE— The winter months, with their shorter daylight hours and colder weather, may have lulled your marriage to sleep. Are you experiencing the hypnotic feeling of being in a “relationship rut” that you can’t escape?
If so, spring is the perfect time to breathe new life and excitement back into your partnership. Described below are five relationship checkups and challenges you can use as a wake-up call for your most significant relationship.
Relationship Fitness Checkup No. 1
What are your “checking in” rituals? How do you make contact with your lover during the day? Are your texts purely operational (Will you pick up some milk?), or are you checking in by dangerously flirting or being a little playful (I can’t wait to really “be” with you this evening.)? When you cross paths after significant hours apart, do you place everything on pause for a big hug and deep, meaningful kiss, or do you brush by each other in a rush to take care of the next task?
Find private, sexy ways to check in during the day and create exciting new rituals that cause you to look forward to putting everything on pause while you connect for a few seconds when crossing paths after being apart.
Relationship Fitness Checkup #2
How curious are you about your partner? Do you hold on to a false belief that you know your lover so well that you no longer need to talk or ask questions? Be wary of developing the hypnotic sense of security that you already know the track your conversations will take. If you have been drawn away from being curious about your partner’s opinions or lulled away from having meaningful communication, it’s time to wake up your relationship.
Using the stopwatch on your phone, set the timer for one minute. You will each take a turn speaking about a chosen topic for one minute while the other listens without judging or planning what to say.
After the first minute of speaking, the listener will recap what they heard without any defense or alternate points of view. The idea is for the listener to simply listen and “understand” the partner.
The roles are then switched; for one minute, the listener becomes the speaker on the same subject. The listener listens and recaps what they heard, speaking only to understand and never to alter the point of view. Being completely understood and accepted creates real connection and intimacy in a relationship.
Relationship Fitness Checkup #3
Do you frequently spend time together off the grid?
A weekly five-hour, off-the-grid date with your spouse is one of the best ways to recharge your relationship and refocus your marital bond. Leaving behind the world’s minute-by-minute access to you (and your access to the world) and turning your full attention to each other can pump nourishment into a starved relationship. You will soon find it so valuable that you will start spending full weekends together off the grid.
Relationship Fitness Checkup #4
Everyone makes mistakes. We argue over silly things, find it necessary to be right about issues that really don’t matter and do things wrong that hurt our spouse. All of these issues can be repaired if we follow the simple steps of repentance that we learned in kindergarten.
When you argue with your partner or when you do or say something hurtful, be accountable. Say you’re sorry. Repair a wrong. Make a new agreement, and keep it. Doing these things will allow the two of you to move forward with renewed energy and commitment to be better tomorrow than you are today.
Relationship fitness checkup five
Do you share what you’re truly grateful for with your spouse? Being vulnerable is valuable to every relationship. Sharing intimate moments and expressing gratitude is key to being safe and free to speak when things are tough.
Each week, find six different things for which you are grateful and share them. Be specific, honest and vulnerable. Participating in this challenge regularly will strengthen your commitment to each other and increase the bonds of trust in your relationship.
Relationship fitness requires couples to be intentional about the commitment they share. Meaning and purpose drive the relationship to deeper, richer, more intimate places as we do the little things to keep the relationship alive and vibrant.
Written by MATT ESCHLER, PhD, LMFT.
This article was originally published in the March/April 2022 issue of St. George Health and Wellness magazine.
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