A few weekends ago, a friend invited a group of gal-pals over to watch the virtual version of, “In Bloom: A Love and Relationships Summit.” My favorite session was with psychotherapist and relationship expert, Terri Cole, who spoke on the four A’s of keeping love alive. Or as Cole put it: cultivating lasting love.
If you’re looking for some actionable steps to strengthen your relationship, here you go.
Cole provided a number of ways to pay attention to your partner.
- Look them in the eye when speaking to them.
- Listen actively.
- Don’t be a wait-to-talk-er.
- Resist the urge to share a “me too” moment. Stay focused on your partner.
- Don’t try to fix them or their problem.
- Ask open-ended questions.
Pro-Tip: Have boundaries with tech. Ie. no phone usage during conversations.
Cole suggests couples interact with mutual compassion and understanding. “Acts of compassion are deposits into the well of goodwill and lead to resiliency and durability for a relationship.”
Additional acceptance tips include:
- Avoid saying, “I told you so.”
- Focus on the positive, not the negative.
Cole recommends showing affection physically, verbally, and emotionally. Hold your partner in high regard, no matter what. This allows each person to be “securely tethered and completely free at the same time.”
Cole’s additional affection suggestions include:
- Compliment your partner.
- Flirt with them.
- Hug and kiss “hello” and “goodbye.”
- Relate to your partner’s “highest self.”
Cole encourages couples to demonstrate appreciation for their partner every day.
Ways to do this include:
- Remember your person doesn’t work for you, and vice versa.
- You don’t own your partner, and vice versa.
- Always say, “Thank you,” for what they do. Their participation in the relationship is a gift.
- When they ask you to go to an event with them, go happily, not bitterly.
- On an ongoing basis, care about their internal experience.
Additional relationship counsel:
Have a joint gratitude practice. Once a day–ie. at the dinner table or in bed before lights out–share your favorite “snapshots” from the day (More on practicing gratitude here and in the #4 item in this blog post.).
Cole also said, “You need five positives to undo one negative.”
My two cents.
Lately I’ve written a lot on children, child safety, and families. I actually believe Terri Cole’s four tips are valuable advice for relating with your children, too. With anyone in your life, really.
If you put these suggestions into practice, I think not only will your marriage be stronger, but your family will be, too. And never forget, the children you’re raising are watching you. Chances are, if you model an emotionally healthy partnership, they may someday do the same.
In addition, when you treat everyone in your home with love and respect, it’s quite possible you and/or your partner will end up on your child’s “Safe Adult List.” Don’t we all want that?
For more great love advice, check out this post: How to Make Love Last.