7 activities to help you connect with your partner, from Jaimi Brooks
It’s pretty widely held that in order for romantic relationships to thrive, time needs to be spent together. Quality time…sleeping alongside each other, with your eyes shut, doesn’t count for these purposes unfortunately. Quality time = a quality relationship. Yes? Yes. We’re all on the same page about that.
However, we often still put quality time with our loves on the back burner. It gets easily demoted when anything else in our lives show the slightest bit of urgency. With the demands of our jobs, families, homes, friends, bodies, and then, of course, wedding planning…we completely forget that nurturing our relationship is even on the docket.
When we don’t spend time with our partners though, we forget why we like them. We become less generous with their shortcomings (and they with ours). It leaves us disconnected, bickering, misunderstood, avoiding sex, and dissatisfied in our most central relationship. When you feel like this, the LAST thing you want to do is prioritize romancing your squeeze and it takes considerably more effort to get reconnected.
So here’s a chance to remember your partners, that maintaining a healthy connections with them is the #1 predictor of health and happiness in your life, and seven ideas for getting some good quality time in with your honey. They are the priority.
1. APPRECIATIONS – Make a routine of sharing your appreciations of each other, weekly or nightly. We go through our days so quickly that we often don’t take the time to make note, even to ourselves, of what we genuinely appreciate about our partners, much less take the time to express it to them. So the payoff in this is threefold, you get the benefit of slowing down enough to remember what your partner does that you’re thankful for, you get to share it with them and make them feel good, and then you get to hear what they appreciate about you which is amazing.
To do this each person shares three “appreciations” of the other and it goes “I appreciate that….” or “I appreciated when you…” etc. The receiver says thank you and soaks it in and then you switch. No minimizing the appreciation please:) The appreciations can be big and epic or small and mundane, it just feels good to be appreciated. You’ll get better at this, both giving and receiving the appreciations, as time goes on. It’s a game changer, I promise.
2. TAKE TURNS PLANNING DATES – Put dates on the calendar and treat them like you do your other commitments. Honor them. When you schedule the dates, schedule to alternate planning the date. This makes it especially fun and exciting either for the planner or for the person who’s not planning (depending on your dynamic). If you can aim to do things that you don’t usually do together or go places you haven’t already been that’s even better!
2. LEARN EACH OTHER’S ENNEAGRAM TYPE – It’s so easy to fall in to the trap thinking the ways our partners are not like us are our partners shortcomings. But even though their differences can be annoying, those differences actually balance and strengthen your partnership. How can you learn to see it that way though? Learn each other’s Enneagram type and you’ll understand your partner better and they’ll understand you better. Why their perspective is valid (their brain isn’t just broken), as well as be start of some really fun conversations.
4. LOTS OF TOUCH, NO SEX – Do a little experiment where you touch, tickle, rub for 30 minutes with sex off the table and then switch. Maybe hairbrushing, hand massage, stretching them, anything really. Get creative but promise each other to keep your panties on.
5. VALUES DECK EXERCISE – Have a night of wine and values. The Values Deck is an exercise of prioritizing 50 neutral values. You’ll each take turns with the values and go through the process to see which are most important to you. It’s such a fun exercise to do and to see how yours are the same and different and how you each think about the world. Are you guys living your lives in line with your top values or are they more aspirational? How can you help each other to honor your core values?
6. READ TO EACH OTHER AT NIGHT – Are you loving on your phones in bed until the last second you’re awake or does Netflix have all your nocturnal attention as you’re closing down the day? It’s tempting and such an easy routine to fall into but consider if these ways of ending the day support the big picture of your life. Is a little balance is needed? It is so nice to choose a book, maybe a fun fictional one, or one that will improve your life together and take turns reading it to each other at night. Then you’re closing out your day talking to each other and learning together.
7. GO TO COUPLES THERAPY – Therapy isn’t just something you do when things are wrong. Finding a therapist you both feel good about and carving out the time to for relationship TLC is one of the best gifts you can give your partnership. Designated time to look at each other, talk about things that matter, build a relationship with someone who knows your relationship in it’s good times. YES to all of that. Then you also have someone to turn to already when you go through your bumps, that’s lovely insurance to have. Then go to dinner after and that there is some good quality time.
Comment and let me know what your favorite ways to get quality time in are!
Jaimi Brooks, M.A. is a therapist in Los Angeles helping people navigate the tricky parts of being human. In addition to providing individual therapy, loves seeing couples and also runs therapy groups including an Entrepreneurial Women’s Motherhood + Identity, and a Premarital Prep Group. You can find her on instagram at @jaimibrooks.
(photos by India Earl)