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With the festive season upon us, our relationship can sometimes take a back seat to Christmas preparations, work and parenting. Use the approaching holiday season to reflect on and put some energy back into your relationship.
10 tips for freshening up a relationship:
What: Preserve the rituals you have that bring you both pleasure; and create new ones.
How: Think about what you do together on holidays that can become part of your life; go for a bike ride together, or visit a new cafe each week.
Why? Rituals help couples to have a sense of belonging and connection and provide a sense of personal identity.
What: Reflect on what attracted you to each other when you first met.
How: Go to the first restaurant where you shared a meal. Remind each other what you saw and felt in those first few months.
Why? Reflecting on this draws couples closer together and connects them.
What: Support each other's dreams.
How: Sit together and look at your desired plans and goals for the coming year: these might include financial, individual, holiday and family aims.
Why? In healthy relationships, couples are in touch with and supportive of each other's dreams; and it can create a shared future which connects a couple.
What: Choose to let go of bitter feelings and old hurts.
How: While there is no easy answer, it's important to have empathy for the other person and also consider how you may have contributed to the problem.
Why? Holding onto bitterness hurts you more than anyone else and restricts what is possible in a relationship. The ability to apologise is vital for a healthy relationship.
What: Know what you want and ask for it.
How: Develop self-awareness and assertiveness skills - keep a journal, attend a course, read, and find the words to express yourself.
Why? Your partner can't read your mind. Self-awareness assists people to create boundaries, which facilitate intimacy.
What: Let your partner know that you think about them during the day, and remember what they like.
How: Buy small gifts for your partner, give them a card or flowers, cook them a favourite meal, or do a job around the house that they don't like.
Why? This assists partners to feel cared for, to feel that they really know you, and can create a sense of romance as it is often the sort of behaviour displayed early in a relationship.
What: Maintain or enhance affection and sexuality in your relationship.
How: Kiss hello & goodbye, tell your partner that you love them, have a conversation about sex - maybe your needs have changed while you've been a couple.
Why? Touch is incredibly important and therapeutic, and sexual intimacy is another form of expressing love.
What: Strive to have a balance between work, rest and play (Freud) and between individual and couple activities.
How: Evaluate your life: do you have too many eggs in the one basket? Are you spending enough time together? Have you lost your sense of self? If so, make some adjustments. Leave work early one night a week, plan a regular date night, do a course or sporting activity.
Why? Balance in life results in better mental health. Individual activities can bring new energy, and shared activities create a sense of connectedness.
What: Maintain interest and curiosity about your partner. Admire them and compliment them frequently. Be grateful for who they are and what they offer.
How: Ask questions, be informed about your partner's inner and outer world. Tell them what you like about them -what a patient parent they are, how grateful you were when they took time off work to assist you and so on.
Why? People are constantly changing; don't assume you know everything about them. When partners can see the good in each other, it helps them through the tough times. Gratitude assists people to be happy.
What: If it's not already there, incorporate fun and laughter into your relationship.
How: Send humorous emails to each other, attend the Comedy Festival, watch comedies together, tell jokes, and relive funny memories.
Why: When laughter is shared it connects a couple and increases happiness. Laughter, like exercise, triggers the release of endorphins.