Today I want to share what regular practices we developed with my wife to keep our relationship healthy and growing. The future is made of our current habits and beliefs so if you want a thriving life and in this case, a thriving relationship, putting in place, today, the right support systems is crucial.
“Show me your Habits, I’ll show you your Future”. Mark Batterson
My intention in this article is showing what is working for us and what it is bringing to us so you can imagine what could work for you. I would suggest to bring these ideas back to your partner and see if you can imagine routines and activities that will support your relationship in the long term. I have selected for you 3 regular activities or habits we do conscientiously and consistently. Also, I’ve added a bonus, that we started lately and that provided great outcomes so far. For some of these habits, we plan them and we set time apart. These are our sacred times when we can connect genuinely and make steps forward for our relationship.
Gratitude has been proven time and time again as a great skill to develop for anything we do in life. It brings positivity as it helps to focus on what we already have instead of being demoralized by what we miss. In relationships, slowly and over time, it is easy to build resentment. One argument here, some hurt feelings there, moments of disconnection and we might find ourselves in a dark and lonely place. It seems that everything turned south, we feel isolated and hurt. The hope we were holding on to, is slowly fading away. How could we stay in such a (bad) relationship? We are never heard, never cared for and at times, our partner seems to be such a mismatch! Gratitude can help to realize what is already working with our partner. A relationship will never be a perfection. It will be perfect to help us grow, as constantly challenging, only if we see it this way. Love, the feeling, isn’t constant nor permanent, like any feeling it comes and goes in waves. If we make the decision to love our partner, then we know it’s only a matter of time before the wave comes back. Whether we feel in love or not in the moment, our partner might have been incredibly sweet earlier today. In my case, I came downstairs and my wife was working on her blog articles and she stopped, looked at me with such a beautiful smile, stood up and join me on the couch for a moment of tenderness, love and joy. We just kissed, cuddled and talked for about 10 minutes, before we returned to our other duties. But it felt amazing to have that moment with her. I could take that for granted, after all, she loves me so it is normal right? We had thousands of these moments already. Instead, I would rather choose the highway to gratitude. I am grateful she still loves me and she is showing it in the kindest way. I would tell her that tonight, as we do every day, in bed, just before we are falling asleep. Each day, our goal is to share with each other 3 gratitudes before we are falling asleep. Sometimes we do only 1 if really tired, a few times a month we forgot but over the last 6 months, we shared hundreds of gratitudes with each other. Sometimes it is about other people in our lives, family, friends, colleagues or even something that happened in the world. If we would go to bed right now, that is what I would share with her today:
“I am grateful that you kissed me with passion today. I felt low when I came downstairs and you made my morning better and cheered me up.” “I am grateful that you expressed your needs after dinner and that you stood up for yourself as you felt I was unfair. I didn’t meant to be careless and I am happy we resolved it with a win/win solution” “I am grateful you coached me today, it’s the first time I could cry going through a process like that and while I couldn’t complete it fully, it was as far as I ever went. I was behaving like a kid but you treated me with respect, love and helped me to breakthrough a belief of mine”
One last call out, some days, it’s a thing not to feel grateful towards our partner. We might have a fight or an argument, they could have hurt us the hour before or we just had a terrible day at work and we just want to sleep now. These days are the one that we need to push ourselves. Look at our partner is the eye and dig in our memories for the blue skies before the storm. In other words, look for the nice, tender and joyful moments that happened before we had an issue. Maybe they kissed us with love when we woke up. Maybe they took care of the household for the day. Maybe they showed themselves as vulnerable by sharing something shameful with us. Maybe they looked at us with a smile and love in their eyes and we had the chance to witness that. Maybe they made an effort for that fight or argument not to be worst, they worked on themselves in the past months and that situation is a lot better than it would have been and that’s brilliant. It is better to find something small that nothing, looking at your relationship positively on a daily basis, can change everything. It is very interesting that gratitude is coming up at that time of my life. I have been practising in various ways for about a year now and to be honest, for most of it, it was hard to feel any change. I started with updating a google sheet every day with 5 items for gratitude and today I share my gratitude with my wife before bed. What I found myself doing for about a month now is that I would express gratitude naturally and pro-actively during the day too. I appreciate more a lot of small actions that my wife does for me, for us or our household. You should see her face when I share these moments of gratitude with her. It’s wonderful to witness such a change and I want to bring that outside of my relationship too.
That’s when things get serious. Relationships are a serious business after all! On a weekly basis, usually Monday right after work, we met in a Starbucks or a Costa, get a nice drink, sit comfortably and get ready for a time for us and our future. We start with discussing the follow ups and action points from the previous Couple Council (the famous CC!). Then we share the points we want to discuss for today. Sometimes, we have an agenda in advance and/or written minutes from the previous CC. Overtime, we made it less formal with agenda and minutes, but we keep a structure to it as otherwise, we could just waste time searching for topics or ideas to discuss. I want to share with you some topics that are recurrent for us lately.
- We have been talking about planning our Honey Moon and our soon to be holidays in France. We discuss flight dates, budgets, activities and decide who is responsible to book or look up things.
- We also talk about our finances, we look at how we are doing with savings or future expenses. We discuss if we want to invest and how. For investing, we asked ourselves lately: Who can support us as we lack knowledge and skills? What/how much money we invest and in what?
- Another regular topic is our next weekly/monthly date, we usually come with ideas, each of us brings a few and we plan, set a date and time.
- We share our current struggles and what we need help or support with. I am personally struggling with my nutrition and was procrastinating on one action point for the last 2 weeks and we would go through my next steps to resolve these. My wife needs to renew her health insurance and was procrastinating on it, we could go through the obstacles she is having, remove these obstacles and then agree on her next steps.
All in all, the subjects don’t matter that much and you could talk about very different topics, based on your own relationship, lifestyle and where you are in life with your partner. Our Couple Council is a time for us to bring problems and find common solutions. It’s a time to build our future. It’s a time to stop everything we do, say to each other we matter by taking actions that show we do.
Who Said Tea Wednesday?
Wednesday is my first day of the weekend and that is our “support day”. We usually have our therapy sessions and/or our support groups when we need them. Whether or not our support is happening, we will go in town for a tea in our favourite place. They have a comfortable couch and when we feel like it, we share a delicious brownie. We use that time to catch up on what happened in our sessions if we had them or just chat about anything. We laugh a lot. Sometimes we are vulnerable and fragile after therapy and we hold space for one another. We hug, we kiss, we are present and we are kind with each other. In the last blog post (Relation and Great sex, could it be simple?), I said we mostly have monthly dates and not weekly. Weekly dates being one of the items that have been influencing having great sex, even in a long lasting relationship! You can read the previous article if I got you curious… Sharing a tea is as close as it get for being a date. In total, we have 1 hour for our Couple Council on Mondays and another hour for “Tea Wednesday” and our regular half-day/night or full day date. As you can see, we really believe in the importance to schedule time with our partner. It brought closeness and it is giving us the space to connect and share. While we have plenty of other opportunities, when the week is packed and busy, we still have these moments for us.
Bonus: Jar of Random Questions
This last activity is new and happened randomly but it turned out to be great! A week ago, my wife had an anniversary event for a Meetup.com group she is running locally around self-development and well-being. We invited some participants and friends to our place and to create some fun during dinner, she collected a batch of random yet simple questions that she printed on a little piece of paper and put them in a jar. These questions aren’t very personal or too deep and the rule is simple, one of us pick a question, read it loudly and answer it honestly. Then the next person on the right is picking up a question and from there you go around the table slowly while eating.To give you an idea, there is a small sample of questions:
- What is your favourite movie?
- What do you do to keep fit?
- Would you rather trade intelligence for looks or looks for intelligence?
We did a few table rounds in the evening, some questions were interesting, some more boring but overall our guests laughed and we get to know some of them a bit more. After the evening, we left the jar on the table and the next day I felt like picking a few during breakfast and my wife was happy to join me. We did it again for dinner and the next day lunch. We did it again while drinking tea or when cooking in the kitchen. It turned out to open space for learning about each other. We discovered many things, at times big, at times small of our pasts. I had a certain understanding of events of my wife’s past life and many of these questions brought some clarity. A lot of these brought up topics we aren’t usually discussing so we had blind spots about each other, that we could shed some light on! As we like it, we already have the next batch of questions ready with more intimate, deep or meaningful questions. It might not be something we keep for years but I’m sure we will for weeks, if not months. It will allow us to know more about each other. Our next batch of question is coming from dating.lovetoknow.com (link directly to the questions) and these questions should last for a bit. 🙂
While I like talking to you, it is time to say Good bye, until the next one! 🙂 I hope you enjoyed your reading today. Lately, I have been trying to sharing more of my personal experiences instead of reviewing, commenting and talking about my experiences through other people’s theories, books or videos. Many aspects of having a great relationship are simple, it isn’t always easy, but it isn’t always complex and or voodoo magic. Like anything in life, if we put efforts in our relationships, we can enjoy them and make them last, for the best. Do you think you can implement some activities like these in your life for your relationship? Will you partner be receptive to such ideas? If you think no, don’t assume, dare to ask them to try! Even for just a few weeks and see what it is bringing in your life! These are great to make your relationship move forward and to support its growth one hour or one discovery at a time. Each little investment we do is helping us building what most of us want in our life: a connected and loving relationship with our loved one. The best part is that we enjoy doing these. They are in line with our values and that is generating a lot of growth. We feel in love, we feel closer, we learn and share, we plan and execute. I wish you the very same. I wish you a great day and I am looking forward sharing with you more on this blog!