Guest Post: 3 ways to Jumpstart Your Relationship

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Since we are all about starting the New year off on the right foot, we thought you might also enjoy this article from Richard Nicastro on three ways to jumpstart your relationship.

Richard is a couples therapist in New Mexico. He publishes a Strengthen your Relationship newsletter and also offers podcasts. Find out more through his website: StrengthenYourRelationship.com

3 ways to Jumpstart Your Relationship

1) See your spouse or partner with new eyes

Years ago a client said something to me that I doubt I will forget. She said it took her husband almost having an affair for her to see him with new eyes, and she was cautioning all her friends not to wait to that point with their husbands. I was fascinated by that idea and asked her to explain.

“He’d become familiar to me,” she said, speaking about her husband. “Don’t get me wrong, that was a good thing, too. I liked knowing I could rely on him and be reasonably certain about how he’d behave in certain situations. But…” She paused to heave a big sigh. “I think that level of familiarity caused me to stop seeing him. I stopped seeing him as the individual that he was and instead only saw him as my husband, almost an extension of me.”

Her husband started to sense that, perhaps, because he accepted a Facebook friend request from an ex-girlfriend from college, even though part of his brain told him he shouldn’t. He began sharing thoughts with her that he wasn’t sharing with his wife. He didn’t feel right about it, and eventually came to his wife.

“It was a jarring moment,” she said. “Jarring and disorienting, but ultimately, beneficial for our marriage. It was like I was blinking awake out of a long sleep. I saw my husband as a vibrant, complex human being, much more than just my mate, and I saw that he was desirable and quite a catch. I tell you, from that day on, I’ve been seeing him with new eyes, and our marriage is stronger for it.”

Keep in mind that your relationship doesn’t have to be on the brink of an affair for you to see your partner with new eyes! It is a decision, and it partly involves setting aside the taking-for-granted mindset that we all fall into from time-to-time. Make the effort to see your partner the way others might see him/her. See your partner as the unique, interesting individual s/he is and bring into the forefront of your mind all the characteristics that drew you to him/her in the first place.

2) Nurture an attitude of gratitude

There’s been a lot of talk lately about how vital gratitude is for a happy life. But did you know that it’s also beneficial for your relationship? When you make it a rule of thumb to start with what’s already working in your marriage (before you focus on what isn’t), and when you nurture appreciation for those positive aspects of your union or the good things your partner does for you and the relationship (keep in mind they don’t need to be “big” things—the relatively little things have a positive cumulative effect), you help to nurture the relationship overall.

3) Initiate loving moments (rather than wait for them)

A client once told me that her boyfriend wasn’t as affectionate as she wanted him to be. In exploring this further, I asked about what happened when she showed him affection. She looked at me blankly and finally said, “Well, I’m certainly not going to be affectionate toward him if he’s not affectionate toward me first!”

When I asked her to think about that from her boyfriend’s point of view, and asked her to consider that he might be thinking the very same thing, I could see her opening to that.

The fact is, moods and mindsets and behaviours are often contagious. Did you ever notice how you might’ve been in great mood one morning but you got to work where people were cranky and complaining about their problems and your mood plummeted? (Or the reverse…your mood might’ve been lifted by the positivity of those around you.) This dynamic is at work in your relationship, too.

Decide to jumpstart the loving moments in your marriage or relationship by deciding to be the one to initiate them, rather than wait for them. (And eventually, your partner might initiate them too!)

There you have it, 3 ways to jumpstart your relationship in the New Year. You might try one at a time, and you’ll see that if you stick with it, you’ll likely feel motivated to try them all.

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