You can’t force your relationship to be better or change the other person. But, there are things you can do which can help your relationship improve and stay healthy. Here are 7 simple ideas that can be helpful. Hopefully these will spark your creativity and you can add many more you can enjoy over the Summer months.
Share Information. This includes sharing both individual tasks and meetings (your calendar) as well as couple and family activities. Although Summer tends to be less structured, it can also be very frustrating if one of you finds out about activities at the last minute.
Suggestion: Once a week separate 15-30 minutes to share information about the upcoming week.
Plan regular time alone together. We all live stressful lives. Couples need to purposely get away from everything and everyone. It could be for a day trip or a couple days, but you need to know the “catch up” time is coming. The more stressful the season the more this is needed.
Suggestion: Today, look at your Summer together and plan 2 or 3 time away moments.
Slow down. We have a tendency to fill our schedules with lots of activities, especially family activities over the Summer. We also need some time to slow down. Time to just be, enjoy the moment, let the stress go, look deeply into each others eyes, let go of electronics and just enjoy your friendship and your intimacy.
Suggestion: For the Summer, find one night (or one moment in the day--even if it's only 1/2 hour) that you both can enjoy together. Write it on your calendar. Be consistent to follow up for the next couple months — until it becomes a habit. Then keep it there.
Increase communication. When my husband and I haven’t been communicating enough, We start to miss details about each other’s lives. We have to repeat ourselves to each other. It’s easy to get into routines and have surface conversations. You have probably experience times like this too. This Summer, discipline yourselves to take a walk together, go for a drive, or even go to the mall together. This will take you away from the routines, phones and television and force you to simply be together — and talk. Communication is the fuel of a healthy marriage.
Suggestion: Tonight — put your phones down, close the laptop, cut off the television, and for at least 15 minutes, talk. Bonus health points if you take a walk together.
Communicate Effectively. It’s not enough to spend time talking. You’ve got to learn to communicate more effectively. Practice your listening skills and the gestures and language you use. If you become as conscious of how you are saying something as much as what you say, you’ll find yourself injuring the other person less and causing fewer conflicts. It’s important to ask each other questions that spur deeper discussion and get to the heart of an issue rather than surface talk.
Suggestion: Come up with a series of open-ended questions, 3 to 5 total, of things you’re curious about your spouse. (Such as: What’s your favorite memory of our honeymoon? Be creative.)
Dream together. Dreaming stretches the heart and mind. It helps create a positive future together. Start by dreaming about this Summer. Then expand to dream about next year. Include different areas of your lives, like personal, health, education, children, values, hobbies, recreation, friendships, finances, career, etc. Dreams help you to plan for growth.
Suggestion: Start by making a dream board for each of you. Then make a combined one for you as a couple. For each partner and for the relationship, list 2 or 3 dreams you have for each important area of your life. If there were no limitations, what would you like to do? Where would you like to go? Who would you like to meet? Place this somewhere in your house you’ll see often.
Do something together for others. Compassion, empathy, and thinking about others keep a relationship from becoming selfish. It can be a surprise for your children, or for an older relative. It can be volunteering together for a community activity. It can be visiting a nursing home and doing something for the residents (like a family program, or bringing balloons, or flowers, etc.). What is helpful is to have fun at the same time that you do something for others.
Suggestion: Get a notebook of some kind and make it a "do for others" booklet. Take time this week, and once a week after that, to list new ideas and update old ones. Include space to write down the date you completed it and how you felt about it. By the way, including your children will help them develop a good heart for others and will also fill in empty Summer time.
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list. You’ve got ideas too. Add to this list. Look at the Summer as a special time to re-connect and warm-up your relationship. Although there’s no secret formula to a great relationship, commitment, intentionality and hard work will bring you closer together. Two people, working together, can take actions that can spur a healthier and happier partnership.
One way to improve your relationship is to communicate better. If you feel that your communication doesn't work well when you need to resolve issues in your relationship, and your bond of love is threatened, there are simple do's and don'ts that can help you restore your communication and find true connection again.
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