Couple scholars Brent Bradley and James Furrow say in their book, “Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy For Dummies” (Wiley, $22.99) that it’s crucial to weave little traditions such as secret handshakes, notes in suitcases or weekly golf lessons into your daily lives. Here are some of their tips:
1 Greet each other: Greeting rituals can be an important and brief way of communicating love and dedication to your partner. “These repeated gestures of importance can be as simple as a hug, kiss or special word or phrase used when saying hello or goodbye,” Bradley said. One couple mentioned in the book has a “secret handshake.” It involves of movements in sequence and ends with three squeezes. They do the handshake at the airport when departing or in front of their kids when they feel like it.
2 Make time for date nights: If you’ve fallen into a routine that revolves around work and family, take time to schedule a regular night out – just the two of you.
3 Schedule a time to talk: Couples with small children often struggle to get away for a date night. Instead, set aside 15 minutes to talk on a regular basis.
4 Pass notes: Write a note or send a card to convey to your partner that he or she is on your mind. Whether it’s a text message, email or handwritten note, written expressions of affection show your partner that they are important to you.
5 Take a class in something new: One couple found they had more free time once their children were in college. Even though they were at different levels, they decided to take golf lessons.
6 Invest in relationship activities: Reading a book on relationships can spark new ideas; workshops or retreats for couples can help focus on each other and strengthen their commitment.
7 Celebrate milestones: Plan and remember special days like anniversaries and birthdays. This marks the importance of people and relationships over the time you’ve known them.
8 Share a common interest: Familiarity and boredom kill intimacy, so find a ritual that the two of you can find engaging. Physical activity is healthy and energizing. Hiking, dancing or sharing a sport combines leisure and companionship.
9 Volunteer: Taking time to help others offers couples a chance to invest in their relationship.
10 Make time for intimacy: Sexual contact in a relationship of care, trust and vulnerability conveys a deep level of intimacy. Couples who focus on each other and express sexual affection find greater meaning in these rituals than those who focus primarily on their sexual needs.
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