Strengthening your bond
As we settle into the new year, it’s the ideal time to reflect on different aspects of your life and what – if anything – you want to change. If you’re in a relationship, it may be an opportunity to set new goals together.
Geoff Lamb, couple and psychosexual therapist, offers these tips on giving your relationship a reboot.
You should also check out these expert tips on how to fix a broken relationship.
Start a hobby together
When do you and your partner spend time together? Is it the humdrum of washing the dishes at night or do you hang out outside of domestic drudgery? Finding a hobby that you both enjoy could be a way to bring you together and make some new memories.
“If you don’t have at least one already, and even if you do, activities and interests in common are a good way of spending time together,” suggests Lamb. “It’s important to remember that contact is the important thing.”
“Try not to get competitive with each other. Remember to emphasise the shared experience. If you do find yourself getting competitive, it’s a good idea to get curious about why this may be and better still to acknowledge and discuss it with your partner.”
Improve your communication
Communication is a huge deal, from the everyday check-ins to the long, challenging conversations. However, you might not be getting your message across in the best possible way. If you’re getting lost in translation, you may want to switch up the way you speak with your partner. Lamb suggests taking the following tips to do just that:
Tip 1: Keep things simple
“The important things which need to be communicated in a relationship – feelings and needs – really are that simple,” says Lamb. Make sure you’re focusing on the main point, rather than straying to different topics and bringing in too many different perspectives.
Tip 2: Focus on your feelings
Worried about how your partner will react? Take a deep breath and say what you’ve got to say anyway. “Focus on your feelings rather than either your partner’s possible reactions in advance or their actual reactions in the present,” says Lamb. “Keep the focus on your feelings rather than on your partner’s behaviour. Start sentences with ‘I’ rather than ‘you’.”
Tip 3: Don’t over-explain yourself
When you think you’re not getting through to your partner, you may be tempted to repeat yourself. However, doing so could mean that your partner switches off. “Long explanations and justifications create distance rather than closeness, which is the whole purpose of communication in couples, so they’re best avoided,” says Lamb.
Tip 4: Leave your preconceptions at the door
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is believing that your partner should respond in a certain way. Take them as they are – not how you think they should be. “Don’t compare your partner with other people or with the ‘average, reasonable’ person,” says Lamb.