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Tracy Frank, Published August 29 2013

5 ways to connect with your significant other

FARGO – Between work, kids and chores, it can be easy for couples to fall into a relationship rut.

Quirks once considered endearing become annoying, and bickering becomes a normal mode of conversation.

But it can also be surprisingly easy to get out of that rut and rekindle the romance that first brought you together.

Here are five ways to reconnect with your spouse or significant other.

1. Spend time together

It sounds simple, right? That’s because it is. But you have to spend time together outside of your regular routine.

Karissa Schmoll, a licensed marriage and family therapist with The Village Family Service Center in Moorhead says it’s important for partners to see each other as the unique individuals they fell in love with.

“It is easy to view your partner in their role as someone who co-parents with you, or works to pay the bills with you,” she said. “We can lose track of what attracted us to our partner before we shared such great responsibilities in life.”

Rachel Blumhardt, a counselor with The Village Family Service Center in Fargo, says one of the best ways to reconnect is to make sure you have regularly scheduled time together like date nights.

“It is easy with busy work schedules and children to put the relationship on the back burner, but scheduling out a night during the week or weekend on a regular basis will keep you together for the long haul,” she said.

2. Do something new

Schmoll suggests taking up a new activity together, something neither person has tried before.

“It can be a fun experience to learn a new skill right alongside your partner,” she said. “This could be a cooking class, a dance class, a class at the gym or anything else that you both may want to try. This also opens up the door for new things to talk about with your partner.”

3. Learn your partner’s love language

Blumhardt recommends Gary Chapman’s book, “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate,” to many of her clients, she said.

People tend to appreciate being loved in different ways: through physical touch, verbal affirmation, quality time, acts of service and gifts. But people tend to love their partners in the ways they like to be loved instead of the ways their partners prefer to be loved, she said.

“If we enjoy hugs and holding hands we tend to show our partners a lot of physical affection when maybe what they want more than anything is the verbal affirmation of ‘I love you’ or quality time eating dinner together,” Blumhardt said.

4. Think positively

Blumhardt says it’s important to banish absolute words and thoughts like “always” and “never” from your vocabulary.

“When we are feeling disconnected from our partners we tend to think in absolutes, ‘Nothing will ever change, I will never love them the way I used to, we will always fight,’ ” she said. “If you try and find the best in your partner, remind yourself of the positive memories, and look for something positive about them in your everyday life, you have much better chances of reconnecting and strengthening your relationship.”

5. Choose loving actions

Most people think the feeling of love comes before we express it because that’s what tends to happen in the beginning of a relationship. But to create a lasting relationship, Mort Fertel, creator of the Marriage Fitness Tele-Boot Camp and author of “Marriage Fitness,” says to first choose loving actions and your feelings will follow.

Do things for your partner, like buying them a heart-felt gift, Fertel says.

Ask about your partner’s day and truly listen to what they have to say, Blumhardt says.

“When we do things for our partner that they enjoy, but don’t come naturally to us or aren’t what we would like to do, then that is truly loving your partner,” she said.

Fertel also says to start repairing a relationship on your own, even if your partner is reluctant.

“One spouse’s effort can change the momentum and very often, it’s that effort that motivates the other spouse to join in the process of saving the relationship,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526