So February, the only month of the year with an entire day dedicated to love and relationships, has come and gone. It’s always interesting to me how much time and money couples spend planning and scheming about how to celebrate one another and their love on ONE DAY of the year. Flowers, candy, lingerie, wine, expensive restaurants and hotels….you know the drill. I love the intentionality that drives Valentine’s Day.
But we’re in April now. So here’s my question….what about every other day of the year? How intentional are we about nurturing our relationships on all those days? It’s all too easy to allow the busyness of life to shortchange our times of connecting with and caring for one another. But being intentional about connecting with one another on a consistent basis is so important because it’s those small daily gestures and times of connection that can really make or break a relationship. John Gottman, the famous relationship guru who has dedicated his career to studying why some relationships succeed and other don’t, has found that satisfied, happy couples take time to connect each day via small, seemingly mundane interactions…a shared smile across the room, a hug at the door when your spouse arrives home, a compliment, a text message to check in during the middle of the day….small gestures like these deeply nurture a relationship and help it to thrive. Focusing on the small things each day also provides a nice, cushy buffer for helping couples navigate conflict when it inevitably comes up. It’s a lot easier to listen well and avoid defensiveness during conflict if earlier in the day, your spouse brought you your favorite coffee drink or shared a kind word with you.
“Couch Time” is another important tool for helping a couple to nurture their relationship. This consists in setting aside some time each day (or most days) to process the day and share thoughts, wishes, and concerns with one another. Put the kids to bed, turn off the TV, put your phones and computers away, and sit together. Talk about how your days went; perhaps share highs and lows of the day. Enjoy a glass of wine or cup of tea together while you talk. If you need a little more structure for what to talk about during this time, check out the “Daily Temperature Reading”. Developed by marriage and family therapist, Virginia Satir, it’s a fabulous guide for structuring your intentional time together.
Whether you use the guide or not, the most important thing is carving out small moments just to be together and to listen to and care for one another. Because ultimately, being intentional about these small, daily interactions is what will help you two celebrate many more Valentine’s Days to come.
Brittle, Zach. 2014, Oct. 15. “U is for Understanding.” https://www.gottman.com/blog/u-is-for-understanding/