Scheduling Quality Time with Your Partner

Yes, ladies… I said scheduled! I know some may cringe at the thought of actually scheduling time to spend with your hunny; whatever  happened to the “good old days” of staying up until 3AM sharing our deepest thoughts?

Truth bomb: women are busier than ever! We not only care for our children, but also for our aging parents, our homes, our friends and our careers. It’s pretty much a modern day miracle if we can manage to get our roots done in the midst of it all!

Your initial response to this suggestion may be that it feels “forced” or “unromantic”. It makes sense to want that spontaneity that was present in the beginning of your relationship, but equally as important is recognizing and accepting that with time, our romantic bonds evolve and it is crucial for us to evolve along with the changes in our lives.

Here are the facts:

  • Research shows Martial stability is improved by shared leisure time together- the opposite is also true-the less quality time spent together is correlated with lowered marital stability.
  • spending time together builds greater intimacy and connection: the greater sense of connection we have to our partner, the easier it is to forgive and work through conflict. Have you noticed the more disconnected you feel from your partner, the more likely it is that you hold on to grudges?
  • Committing to time spent together prioritizes the relationship above all else. It acknowledges your commitment to strengthen your bond with your partner so that you are resilient in life as a team! It’s you two against the world!(or at least the kids!)

How to start:

  1. BOOK IT! Commit to a weekly “relationship appointment”- put it in your calendar and prioritize it. You give your doc the 24 hour courtesy rule, be respectful of this commitment you made and don’t double book yourself!
  2. Make a list of activities before hand- Fill up a jar with “date night in” and “date night out ideas”- pick from the jar so you have something to look forward to all week!
  3. Let go of expectations and be in the moment – we spend so much of our lives scheduling and planning- when you’re together- practice being present  (the spontaneity will find its way- I promise!)

Val Spiropoulos, LCPC

Don’t Try to FIX your Partner’s Emotions

Has this ever happened to you? You call up your man and ask how his day is, he responds with a slew of “nothing is going right” and “I am so stressed from by boss breathing down my neck..” As any loving partner, you respond by listening, trying to give feedback and advice on how to get through this tough work day.

But in your quest to help your partner find relief from his stress – you find yourself feeling irritable that “he’s not taking any of your suggestions… “and if he just would try deep breathing, he would see how helpful it can be to manage his anger…”

Why this is a toxic merry go round:

Empathy VS Sympathy.

Knowing the difference will save you tons of stress and conflict in your relationship!

Brenee Brown said: “what makes something better is not a response, but connection..” This is the essential component of empathy. It’s a very simple concept but so tough to practice! When we know our loved one is in some kind of emotional pain- our gut instinctual reaction is to want to take that away. So, we go into problem solving mode! We say “do this…stop that” and spend much of our time formulating a solution rather than truly listening and validating out partner’s experience in that moment. This can cause our loved one to feel unsupported, misunderstood and invalidated!

Try this:

  1. Reflect what they’re saying to you- without interpreting) stand on their side, even if they are dead wrong!) “You’re boss is really on your case today” or “there’s been a lot of things that haven’t gone as planned for you today”
  2. Put on your therapist hat and validate, validate, validate: “I’m sure it’s really suffocating to have your boss so involved in everything…”
  3. Let them know you’re here if they need anything/ask is there anything I can do?

Remember: It’s not your responsibility, nor is it even possible to change the way your partner is feeling in any given moment. The more you understand this, the easier it will become to provide empathy.

Check out this short clip that will help you learn more!

Val Spiropoulos, LCPC

Healthy Communication

The Most Common Communication Mistakes Couples Make
And The Profound Impact a Small Shift Can Have on Your Relationship

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Think about the last argument, you and your significant other had…. What did you say? How did they respond? It may have sounded something like:

You never listen to me!”
“You’re always on your phone, you don’t care about spending time with me!”

We are all guilty of using statements like these. Statements that start with “you” and use absolutes like “always” and “never.” When we feel emotional or upset, it’s easy to blame our partner for the way we feel. When we communicate using “you” statements, we direct blame towards our partner, causing them to feel defensive. This form of communication can quickly escalate from an intention to communicate your feelings, into a class A, full-blown fight.

THE SHIFT: “I statements” and how to use them

“I statements” are a form of communication that help you take personal responsibility for your emotions- rather than falsely attributing them to your partner. They help you assertively communicate how a problematic behavior in your partner, effects you- without judgement or blame.

MAKING AN “I STATEMENT”:

Remember, the intention of an “I statement” is to express how you feel in response to your partner’s behavior. This includes using words that describe your emotions such as “angry, anxious, lonely, content, happy, excited”.
BEWARE OF “YOU STATEMENTS” DISGUISED AS “I STATEMENTS” !

Using statements such as ” I feel ignored, manipulated, controlled….” These are “you statements” and descriptions of your partners behavior. These are not words that describe emotions.
Another common mistake when using “I statements” is saying “I feel like you are ignoring me…” This statement implies blame and there is not a description of any emotions.

To better understand how to shift a “you statement” into an “I statement”, check out the chart below:

 

 

With a little education and practice, a fundamental shift happens. Partners learn to take individual responsibility in managing their emotions while accurately expressing themselves to their partner. Couples feel a greater sense of understanding for one another and this increases their bond in a profound way!

The Centered Life Team