Keeping Your Relationship Alive

After having our first child this past summer and experiencing a series of life transitions and stressors, I became keenly aware of the impact these events had on my relationship with my husband. While we used to spend much of our free time playing and enjoying each other’s company, connecting through conversation and shared interests, our relationship quickly shifted into almost one of a business- complete with to do lists, caring for our daughter, and navigating the challenges at hand.

Certainly, we still loved and cared deeply for one another, and we both are very committed to our relationship. However, the stress was taking its toll on the fun side of our partnership, and it was easy (especially with little sleep and lots to do) to be short with one another and to put our relational happiness off until things calmed down.

We soon realized, however, that things would likely not slow down anytime soon. And, we both enjoy being connected and having warmth in our relationship. We also recognized that we were neglecting our individual and family self care plans, which include exercising, connecting with friends, and making time for spirituality. In addition to   incorporating more of these activities, we also began practicing a principal that my husband deems one of the most important lessons of having a successful partnership: being gentle with one another.

The truth is, life can often be full of stressors and challenges. And having children certainly is a major transition. But a relationship can still thrive if both partners are committed to nurturing their relationship and intentional about practicing their love for one another.

couple embrace in keeping their relationship alive

In thinking about thriving relationships, I was reminded of Gottman’s Five Magic Hours. Marriage researcher John Gottman found that couples in positive relationships invest an extra five hours each week in their marriage in fairly specific ways (even though it may look different for each couple). Following are his tips for incorporating the magic 5 hours into your relationship:

Using the MAGIC 5 Hours to Help Keep Your Relationship Alive

1) Partings: Before you leave in the morning, be sure you have learned at least one thing that is happening in your partner’s life that day.

Time: 2 minutes/day x 5 working days= 10 minutes

2) Reunions: Engage in a stress-reducing conversation at the end of each work day.

Time: 20 minutes/day x 5 working days= 1 hour 40 minutes

3) Admiration and Appreciation: Each day, communicate genuine affection and appreciation toward your partner.

Time: 5 minutes/day x 7 days= 35 minutes

4) Affection: Hug, kiss, hold, and touch each other during the time you are together. Remember to kiss before you go to sleep. If possible, try to let go of irritations that have built up over the day.

Time: 5 minutes/day x 7 days= 35 minutes

5) Weekly Date: This can be a relaxing, low pressure way to stay connected. Ask one another questions that help you know one another better and turn toward each other.

Time: 2 hours/week= 2 hours

Grand total: 5 hours!

Certainly, relationships will go through ups and downs as issues arise and life happens. However, by intentionally incorporating some of Gottman’s tips, remembering to be flexible with one another, appreciating each other as evolving human beings, supporting one another’s dreams and goals, and being kind to one another can help keep your relationship stay alive even when things get really tough. It can also be helpful to seek out marriage or family counseling for additional support.

 

“Love doesn’t commit suicide. We have to kill it. Though, it often simply dies of our neglect.” ~Diane Sollee