With Valentine’s day on the horizon, now is the perfect time for couples to contemplate how they can strengthen and improve their relationships. Healthy relationships require a considerable investment of time and effort from both parties involved. While there is no singular foolproof secret to a strong, flourishing relationship, some find that small changes or thoughtful gestures can go a long way. Consider the following suggestions:
Give your partner your full attention
I suspect that for many couples, spending time together often involves some type of screen. Whether they are watching netflix or scrolling through their respective news feeds, these couples are settling for a subpar rendition of “quality time,” even if they are sitting in close proximity to one another. In order to get the most out of your time together, consider activities where you can give your partner your full attention. Cook together. Read a book together. Go for a hike together. If it’s evening or night time, play a game together or just talk.
Complement your partner often
When you receive a thoughtful compliment, it makes you feel good, right? Complements can be a constructive force in a relationship. The benefits of regularly (and sincerely) complimenting your partner are twofold: Your partner is likely to feel more appreciated and confident—a product of the verbal praise. At the same time, you will feel more appreciative of your partner as a result of the positive thoughts that precede each compliment. This mutually beneficial practice will foster a sense of closeness and understanding in your relationship.
Take regular “inventory” of your relationship
Companies use performance reviews as an opportunity to promote professional growth. These sit downs often answer questions for employees such as, “How am I doing?” and “How can I progress in my role?” These questions can also be used to improve a relationship. Set aside a regular time to talk with your partner and ask them, “How am I doing?”, “What’s going well?” or “What could be better?” Just as this exercise can lead to clearer communication and improved performance in the workplace, it can be used by couples to create stronger relationships and a happier home life. For couples located in Utah County, the BYU Comprehensive Clinic offers free relationship checkups, which allow couples to “take inventory” of their relationship with the guidance of a graduate intern.
Stay on the same page with a shared calendar
Between family, work, school, church and community obligations, couples often struggle to keep track of everything they have going on. This busyness can breed miscommunication and frustration. Keeping a shared online calendar is one way couples can streamline scheduling and minimize instances of confusion that often result in double-booking. By configuring the sharing settings on any online calendar platform (such as Google or Apple Calendar) to include both partners, couples can benefit from seeing one another’s calendar updates in real time, even if they have not had a chance to discuss them in person. This won’t solve everything, but it will eliminate needless scheduling conflicts and that’s a start!
Weekly Date Night
Our priorities are manifest in the ways we spend our time. By taking part in regular date nights, couples affirm to one another and to themselves that their relationship is valuable and deserving of upkeep. They also benefit in many other ways. A recent study conducted at the University of Virginia reported that couples who set aside weekly “couple time,” such as date night, experienced higher quality relationships, lower divorce rates, more satisfying intimate lives and improved communication about important things. Additionally, the study found that these couples were less likely to take one another for granted and more likely to do the little things like opening doors or offering compliments.
Sending a supportive text to your partner during the day can be a significant pick-me-up for them, whether they’re at work, at school or home with the kids. It shows that you’re thinking about them, that you’re aware of what they’ve got going on and that you appreciate them. The text can be as simple as “How did your presentation go?” or “I really appreciate you making and cleaning up dinner last night. I’m so lucky to be married to you!”