By Kyle Benson
Find out what will work best for a Better Relationship.
All of your relationship problems cannot be solved by reading a book, attending a weekend workshop, or enrolling in couples therapy.
With that said, learning what distinguishes happy couples from unhappy ones can change the course of how you and your partner love each other.
The seemingly insignificant shifts in the trajectory of your relationship can have a significant effect over time.
The catch is that you have to continue to build on the positive changes you’ve made so you don’t fall back into old, negative patterns.
When we followed up with couples who attended The Art and Science of Love weekend workshop in Seattle, we asked ourselves,
“Is there a the noticeable difference between couples whose marriages continued to improve over time compared to those whose marriages did not?”
You’d think the successful couples would have made a dramatic overhaul in their marriage. This is not what we discovered.
To our surprise, they were only devoting an extra six hours per week to their relationship. How these couples split up these six hours depended on their focus and areas of improvement, but we did notice some clear patterns.
Here’s what the winning formula looks like.
Happy couples make an effort to learn one thing that is happening in their partner’s life that day before saying goodbye in the morning.
This could be lunch plans with a best friend or a doctor’s appointment or a scheduled call with their parents. The goal is to ask questions and learn about the exciting and not so exciting things about your partner’s day.
Time allocation: 10 minutes per week (2 minutes a day x 5 working days)
When you see your partner again at the end of the day, share a hug and kiss that last at least six seconds. Dr. Gottman calls this a “kiss with potential.”
The six-second kiss is a ritual of connection that is worth coming home to. After the six-second kiss, have a stress-reducing conversation for at least 20 minutes.
This provides you with a space for empathy and non-sexual intimacy, as well as encourages you to understand the stresses and problems outside of your relationship that you’re both facing.
Time allocation: 1 hour and 40 minutes per week (20 minutes a day x 5 working days)
Appreciation and Admiration
It’s important to find ways to genuinely communicate affection and appreciation toward your partner. I encourage couples that I work with to use an admiration journal, which enables them to record something small they notice and connect it to a trait they admire in their partner.
Not only does this make your partner feel valued, but it also primes your mind to see the positive traits of your partner, instead of focusing on the negative.
Here is an example: “Thanks for helping out with the dishes last night and letting me go finish my project for work. You’re such a thoughtful and kind woman.”
Time allocation: 35 minutes per week (5 minutes a day x 7 days)
Expressing physical affection when you’re together is vital to feeling connected to each other. Make sure to embrace each other before falling asleep. This can be as simple as cuddling for a few minutes or a goodnight kiss.
Think of these moments of affection as a way to let go of the minor stressors that have built up over the day. Imagine lacing your goodnight kiss with forgiveness and tenderness for your partner.
Time Allocation: 35 minutes a week (5 minutes a day x 7 days)
This important “we time” is a relaxing and romantic way to stay connected to each other.