Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Couple Relationship Tune-Up

By Laura Eubanks Gambrel, Ph.D., LMFT

With February upon us, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. One day a year is not enough to focus on your relationship! As research suggests, small daily acts matter more to the health of a relationship than grand gestures at anniversaries, holidays, or birthdays. Just like we take cars for their 50,000 mile tune-up to make sure everything is working properly, it is much easier to “tune-up” your relationship, than to fix it after it is broken.  So, while love is in the air, take the time to recommit to working on your relationship every day, not just February 14th. Here are a just few suggestions to keep your relationship going strong:

1. Appreciate the Positive – Consciously focus on the good things your partner does and acknowledge at least two of them every day. The more your partner feels appreciated for the little things he or she does – making you coffee in the morning, washing the dishes, working hard to provide for the family – the more he or she will continue to do those things.

2. Set a Weekly Date Night – Research has shown that couples who have dinner together once a week and focus on their relationship (not the kids, or bills, or work) are happier and stay together longer. Though it may be difficult, carve the time out of your schedule to spend together.  Even if you can’t go out every week, order pizza, light some candles, and enjoy reconnecting with each other - it will make a difference.  

3. Engage in New Activities Together – Remember the spark you felt when you first met your partner or spouse? Bring it back by doing something novel and exciting together – take a painting class, go snowboarding, try out that new whiskey bar, attend a lecture at an art museum, or take dancing lessons. By doing fun and interesting things together you’ll see each other in a new way, keeping your relationship fresh and fun.

4. Limit Technology – The constant distraction of cell phones, texting, e-mail, and TV can make it hard to be present for one another and connect deeply. Try setting up “no screen time” every evening or for a few hours on the weekends so that you have time to talk without distractions.  Most couples who I work with that have done this are amazed at how much closer they feel after only a week of implementing this rule.

5. Assess your Strengths and Weaknesses - You can do this by taking relationship quizzes or visiting with a professional. Knowing from an objective view where you stand can help you to make minor adjustments before they become big problems. For the month of February I’m offering a discount on the PREPARE/ENRICH relationship inventory and consultation. For $100 (usually $200) you and your partner take the relationship inventory that is tailored to your relationship type and from those results you receive a comprehensive analysis of your relationship that is based on thousands of other couples’ responses. Then we meet for an hour to review your report and discuss tools and strategies to improve your relationship. This small investment of time can lead to big changes - what more could you ask for this Valentine’s Day? Contact me if you have questions or to set up your assessment and consultation at or 267-518-8035.

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