Habits of crazy in love couples.
By Dr. Jim Walkup for YourTango.com
If you truly want the best relationship possible, don’t leave the fate of your “happily in love” connection to luck or chance. Trust me, couples who thrive for the long-term actively choose behaviours that keep them in a good place with each other.
1. Spend time together.
It is staggering how many couples come to my office having not spent a single meaningful moment together since their last session. I know, I know – kids and jobs quickly derail your chances of alone time. But come on!
You can’t connect if you never spend time together. It’s the most obvious and basic step of keeping love alive.
So get with it, pull out your calendars, set a date to spend some time together and then honour it. Create a space (sans kids) where you can breathe together - that is when meaningful connection and conversations occur.
2. Know your partner's love language.
This one is so important - Just because your mum sang your praises for cleaning up your room doesn't mean your partner is as impressed by the act. We each value different loving behaviours and gestures in our relationship. Often couples have completely different love languages.
If you don't know what your partner's is, ask. Your honey has probably tried to share theirs, but you may have missed it. So, find out today.
Just ask, "What things have I done that make you feel the most loved?" Perhaps it will be the time you surprised her by cooking dinner. Perhaps his will be just touching him affectionately. Or that time you threw him that surprise birthday party.
Unsure of what the different love languages are? Make a date to flip through The Five Languages of Love by Gary Chapman together. Discovering your partner's love language makes showing appreciation and affection truly fun again.
3. Commit to 20-second hugs twice a day.
I'm not talking about a polite, A-shaped hug. I mean a hip-to-hip, really holding each other bear hug. Why must it last 20 seconds? Because that's how long it takes for your oxytocin to kick in (otherwise known as "the cuddle hormone") which gives you that delightful feeling that all is right with the world (and your relationship).
I regularly "prescribe" 20-second hugs to my patients because the gesture is powerful medicine. So, every morning before you leave for work and then again when you get home, spend 20 full seconds in an embrace. I guarantee you, one or both of you will quickly slip into your happy place. But remember, because it works so well and feels so good, if you skip this ritual too often, your partner will soon feel uncared for. So, commit to it and enjoy it!
4. Learn to listen (without interrupting).
Nothing says "I love you" more than really listening when your partner speaks. About their thoughts. About their feelings. Even about that big meeting with their boss and their stressful, busy day.
Authentic listening is a skill most people struggle with however. It means shutting off your screens, dialing down your own thoughts, making eye contact, nodding your head in an appreciative way... You know, actually caring and being present. Supportive grunts and high-fives are also appropriate. Bonus points for touching your partner's arm at appropriate moments to show you're genuinely paying attention.
Giving your partner the floor without needing to put in your own two cents (or stealing the spotlight) shows that their thoughts and feelings are as important to you as your own. Just make sure to mirror back what your partner says (without editorial comments, of course). Don't tell them what to do, simply reflect what you heard them say and your understanding of how it impacted them.