Nurturing the one you love and the relationship that binds you is like tending a garden; upkeep is necessary. Romantic relationships are continuously challenged by various work and family circumstances that distract attention away from the couple’s relationship. Emphasizing simple, thoughtful connections to your partner sends a message of care and support that strengthens the overall stability of the relationship and the bond between you and your partner.
It is important to focus on the connection between you and your partner not only during the milestones of life but during the mundane moments to continually remind your partner that they are loved and that they matter. Relationships grow simply by noticing your partner is upset and asking about their feelings. Imagine a scenario during a hectic morning when you rush into the kitchen after your partner has gotten off the phone with their mother. You can tell by the look on their face that the conversation wasn’t a positive. You have two options. You can either ignore their expression and rush out the door with the excuse of being late for work, or you can acknowledge that they look upset and tell them you want to hear about the call when you both have more time later in the day. In the first option, you are turning away from your partner and undermining your bond by walking out of the room and clearly ignoring their feelings and their needs in an emotional situation. In the second option, you are turning toward your partner and strengthening your bond by simply acknowledging the feelings of your partner. It is crucial to turn toward your partner to strengthen the mutual trust and therefore the strength of the bond of the relationship.
Each relationship has what psychologist and relationship expert Dr. John Gottman describes as an emotional bank account. If you turn toward each other to help, support, and recognize each other’s needs, especially in the seemingly mundane moments of life, you are essentially adding to your account and building emotional savings. If you turn away, you are subtracting from the account, creating an underlying tension that will over time create a sense of mistrust in future interactions. By turning toward each other, you will also have a better understanding of each other’s emotional needs, ultimately changing the way you react to your partner. This makes it easier to support one another during challenging moment both in life and in the relationship. Gottman suggests that even when conflict arises, the argument will not defy your relationship as a whole because of a deeper understanding of each other and an appreciation for your love and connection.
The contribution to the account by both partners is essential. Try the three tips below to help make nurturing behaviors a part of your normal behavior in order to continually strengthen your romantic relationship with your partner.
- Cultivate gratitude. Create a gratitude jar for your relationship. Commit to writing down five moments within a month that you appreciate your partner and add them to the jar. Then, at the end of the month, share your jar with each other.
- Make memorable moments. Instead of creating a date night, create a date moment. Allot between two and five minutes a day to be together and connect (without electronic devices) where you either sit quietly and snuggle or discuss a feeling of appreciation about the other.
- Express appreciation. Offer your partner a little token of appreciation by providing them with something they need and don’t expect. For example, provide an unexpected shoulder massage or bring them their morning coffee in bed.