My husband Angelo and I will be celebrating our 5 year wedding anniversary next week. One of my favorite thing about our connection, is that we are always striving to make our relationship stronger and better than before.
Angelo and I are very different people, but we have similar values. We both truly appreciate and honor our family life, and we also have various other interests that we are involved in separately. I believe that in ordered to be a fulfilled person, it’s both healthy and necessary to have our own interests outside of our relationships, but if we are not careful, these outside interests can easily start to cause a rift in our partnership. The good news is that this is something that can be easily addressed.
As we go through different life stages as individuals, it is common to go through periods of time where we feel disconnected, or like we are drifting apart in our relationships. It is normal for this to happen, but the important thing is to take notice of it, and know what you need to do to bring yourself and your partner back together.
Remember that being in a marriage or long term relationship is a decision that you make over and over again to be life partners and go through life together. With communication, honesty, and love, it is possible to remain committed to one another and fall even deeper in love as you navigate your individual paths.
I believe that the best way to do this is to hold periodic “State of Our Union” meetings with your partner! This is simply time dedicated to having a conversation that addresses where you each are on your individual life paths and in your joint life together. Here are my tips for getting the most out of these meetings and having a positive interaction.
1) Get your partner on board.
A serious conversation is not something that you should spring on your partner casually while you are making dinner and your kids are screaming in the next room. Let your partner know that you have been feeling a little distant, and would like to set aside time to discuss what is and isn’t working for each of you in your relationship. Ask your partner to take some time to think about what they think is going well, and also the areas that need some work. Remember that relationships are a two way street, so it important to have both of your points of view heard.
2) Make it fun!
Plan a date night, light some candles, have a few drinks, or go on a day date to the beach. Just because your conversation is serious doesn’t mean that it has to be boring or heavy. In fact, you will both feel more comfortable opening up if you are enjoying each other and having fun together.
3) Start with the positive.
Start with discussing the things that you LOVE about one another and that you think are going GREAT in your relationship. This will set the tone for the rest of the conversation, and remind you why you are choosing to be together in the first place.
4) Discuss your challenges.
Ask your partner what they see as the challenges in your relationship, or what you could be doing better. Then tell them what you see as areas of improvement. Chances are you will have some similarities here, but keep in mind that perspective is everything in relationships, so you each may be looking at situations differently. Be open to feedback and receptive to your partner’s suggestions.
5) Create a game plan.
Now that you know what’s going well and what needs improvement, it’s time to create a game plan for how you will make your relationship better. Start with deciding to keep doing the things that are working, and then implement a plan for what you will do to change the things that aren’t. Get creative, but also be realistic. You don’t have to change things drastically overnight. Small steps in the right direction are the perfect place to start in order to move towards your goal of a loving, lasting relationship.
And that’s it! I recommend doing this exercise at least once per season, or during times of transition or major life stressors. Open communication and receptivity are the number one way to remain connected to your partner and keep your connection strong.
Wishing you a week of love + connection.