Spring has always been one of my favorite seasons! It represents hope, growth, possibilities and new beginnings. Now that I live in South Florida, the seasons are much more subtle, but I’m always mindful of them. Just as the seasons change, people, partners’ and relationships change.
I specialize in working with couples who are experiencing various life transitions. Some transitions are obvious such as the excitement of bringing home a newborn or the painful process of going through a divorce. Others are subtle such as loosing site of your relationship while raising children or drifting a part over time due to busy work schedules.
With spring in the air, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the climate of your relationship and identify areas where you might need to do a little ‘spring cleaning’. According to relationship expert, Dr. John Gottman, couples with the most relational satisfaction are those who maintain a positive regard, deep friendship, and support each other’s hopes for the future. Here are 5 tips from Gottman’s research that can instantly spruce up your relationship:
1) Maintain a Positive Perspective. Your outlook directly influences what you see in your partner and how you experience the relationship. Notice the things you appreciate and let your partner know about it! When a relationship hits a rough patch, it’s easy to fall into the trap of minimizing, dismissing or ignoring the positive things that happen. This builds negativity over time. Don’t take things for granted! Plant seeds of fondness and appreciation within your relationship and watch the positivity grow.
2) Strengthen Your Friendship. How well do you know your partner? Do you know their likes, dislikes, hopes, and dreams? Deep friendships are the foundation for trust, commitment, intimacy, and sexual satisfaction in relationships. To deepen your friendship, ask your partner opened ended questions, share meaningful stories, spend quality time together, try new activities, and have fun creating new memories!
3) Invest in Your Emotional Bank Account. We all know what a financial bank account is, but how often do you make deposits in your relationship’s emotional bank account? Each time you turn toward your partner to offer support, kindness, affection, humor, or engage in a meaningful conversation, you’re building up a reserve. This savings account represents trust and security, which can help you weather the storm when conflict arises and stay connected through times of difficultly.
4) Manage Conflict Constructively. Everyone experiences conflict in relationships. Whether it’s a small disagreement or a blow out fight, it’s the way they’re discussed that makes the difference. Constructive conflict can help you learn to better love and understand your partner. To avoid destructive conflict, take some time to calm down before dialoguing about problems. Most importantly, keep criticism, contempt, stonewalling and defensiveness at bay aka the ‘Four Horsemen’.
5) Build Shared Meaning. Talk with your partner about their life dreams and explore how to make them become a reality. When you build visions of the future together, you’re connecting on a deeper and more meaningful level. Discover ways to create shared meaning in your daily life through rituals of connection such as greeting each other when you come home, saying ‘I love you’ before bed, scheduling regular date nights, and celebrating birthdays or special holiday traditions.
What are your thoughts about these 5 tips to spring clean your relationship? Which are your strengths and which ones do you need to focus more on developing in your relationship? Which ones inspire you to do something different?
Happy spring cleaning and enjoy reaping the rewards!
-Dr. Kate Campbell, LMFT
Owner & Director 954.391.5305 ext. 1