Seven Principles to Help Keep that Spark Alive!
Valentine's Day is coming soon and the holiday symbolizes love, romance, desire and connection. We are bombarded with pink and red hearts, cards, chocolate sales and dinner deals (well...take out deals) for this very special occasion.
What are we really celebrating? What does romantic love actually mean? And wait, how do we build that connection, how do we keep it? Are flowers from my hunny still involved?
We have research that tells us what we are celebrating! John and Julie Gottman (yes, they are married researchers and relational therapists...#couplegoals) show us that there are 7 principles for strong romantic relationships.
Love Maps. Doesn't that sound kind of romantic? A love map is understanding important parts of your partner's world. Knowing their dreams, what helps them get through stress, heck - what they love on their pizza. Strong relationships look to enhance their knowing of one another consistently. In other words, they look to strengthen their love maps.
Fondness and Admiration. Yes, this is essential! Not only do strong connections respect one another, they also have a beautiful and positive view of their partner(s). Gottmans argue that long term relationships will not last in a healthy way without this. Tell your loved ones how awesome you think they are and what you appreciate about them!
Turn Towards Each Other. Do you ever get outrageously busy with life and notice that you haven't talked much with your sweetie(s)? Have you ever hit a rough patch and forget to check in with your partner(s) and hear how they're doing? Well stop doing that! Okay, sass aside, it is integral for an effective relationship to turn towards one another, not away, especially when things get hard. Take 30 seconds and write a cute text message expressing how much you care about them. Schedule a 15 minute check in one evening. Offer a long hug, a cup of tea, a big smooch. Turning towards one another does not need to take significant time, however it does need to be a relationship habit.
Partner(s) has Influence. Therapists see couples get stuck in a pattern where they fight about who is right and who is wrong. It is like they forget that they are a team and often don't realize that they probably agree more than they disagree. So let's dismantle that pattern and replace it with openness to be influenced by your partner(s). Consider one another's views and feelings about the situation. Remember to learn from each other and ultimately find common ground.
Solve solvable problems. This may be difficult to hear, I mean read, some problems aren't very solvable for relationships. But guess what, many are! It is important to know the difference. You can resolve problems like coming to agreement regarding cleanliness of a shared home or how many times a week you order pizza for dinner (this could be unsolvable for some relationships). It is important to resolve the solvable problems, and you can pick up Gottman's book The Seven Principles of Making a Marriage Work for guidance on how to do so.
Overcoming Gridlock. So what do healthy relationships do when the problems aren't solvable!? We often become polarized from our partner(s) when a conflict feels unresolved, so we may hold tension, make passive aggressive comments or try our hardest to avoid the conversation all together. Well, do the opposite of all that. It is integral to actually have dialogue about what is truly going on and heal any wounds, any harm that has occurred from this issue.
Shared Meaning. Build and keep a wonderful couple/relationship culture together. What does it mean to be together? What do we believe in? How do both of our individual dreams fit within our partnership? What dreams do we have together? Hey don't these sound like sexy things to talk about with your Valentine's Date!
Our invitation to you this Valentine's Day is to celebrate these 7 principles with your loved ones. Practice them regularly, express them on Feb 14th and every day after that. Here is our Valentine's Day present to you - we appreciate and admire your dedication to self and relationship growth, thank you for taking time to read this blog.
You can also learn more about this listening to our latest episode on Relationship Matters Podcast by clicking here.
Happy 7 Principles Valentine's Day!