Buy the book! But ok, so the most important word to me when I think about statisfying healthy happy relationship is the word intimacy. So, not just physical intimacy but emotional intimacy and emotional intimacy happens though connection, through talking, through eye contact, through holding your partner and really seeing them and talking to them. And a lot of couples that come to me are lacking in intimacy in their relationship and that comes down to communication, an open communication and ultimately knowing you know, is your partner there for you?
You want to know that when you’re upset about something, you’re hurt about something or resentful about something that you can talk to your partner and that they hear you, they understand you, they validate your emotional experiences, that they’re present for you but often times one person is attacking or blaming. The other one is shutting down and withdrawing and we see this kind of dysfunctional dance going on and so, you know for couples who don’t naturally communicate well, like yes, I think it would be easier for them or cheating happens, yes, because there is this disconnection and they feeling lonely, they feel apart. There’s lacking intimacy.
There’s tons of different ways to start increasing intimacy in your relationship but my absolute favorite which I feel like is this kind of magical power in relationships is the practice of gratitude. So, gratitude research, and there’s been plenty of psychological research about gratitude. It shows us that not only are couples who practice gratitude–and I’ll explain what that means. Not only are they happier or more connected or more loving towards each other but they also view the other person as more attentive to their needs, they feel more comfortable bringing up issues with their partner and they view their partner as more validating.
So, I’m not suggesting to just jump into a high tension conflict issue with your partner and communicate about it. If that’s not something you’re used to doing but start from the positive direction where practicing gratitude. So saying one thing, one specific thing that you’re thankful or grateful or appreciative for about your partner that day. So something thoughtful that they’ve done for you. So, I really appreciate that you took out the trash tonight and that you just kind of do that without me having to ask you. Simple. I’m really, really thankful that you did those dishes tonight. It was so helpful to have you and have help out after I cooked the meal or I really appreciate that you sending me that cute text today, it made me laugh or smile.
So, anything, it doesn’t have to be big but what you’ll see is that–and I suggest that nightly, daily gratitude practice. So, every night before bed, sharing something you’re grateful with each other and what you’ll notice is that change in behavior. So, you’re going to start behaving in a way that says, “Did I do something nice for my partner today? Because I know that they have to thank me for something like–and so you start thinking what can I do for them or let me make sure I check something good off my list. And you start behaving in better ways. And so what we know then from research it says that, you’ll have an easier time bringing up issues with your partner if you practice this. That over time I think that’s a really smart easy way for couples who are kind of rocky with their communications. Start with the positive communication.