Updated: Jun 27, 2019
Connection in a relationship unfolds naturally at the beginning. You’re drawn to each other, making time to spend with each other feels more like fun than work. But as time goes on and daily life intrudes, connection gives way to countless other obligations. And that denies the relationship its essential nourishment. Neglecting opportunities to connect puts the relationship itself at risk. (Read more about nurturing relationships here)
You May Not Realize You’re In Danger
It can be tempting to think that we don’t need to worry about re-connection. After all, you know you love your partner, and they know they love you, right?
Knowing that is great, but knowing you love each other isn’t enough to make you experience that love. Knowing that you’re in a relationship isn’t what makes it a good one!
The previous blog compares your relationship to a tree and the fruits of that tree are the positive emotional experiences. So of course you will know that the fruits are there--you and your partner worked really hard to cultivate them. So enjoy those fruits! On a healthy tree, these fruits are always ripe and in abundance. But if you wait too long to enjoy them, the fruits will rot and weigh down your branches. The tree suffers, and the yield falls.
It can get to the point where some couples forget that their tree bears fruit in the first place.
Investing in the Experience
Trees need regular attention: constant sunlight, regular water, a good trimming once in a while. Your relationship needs similar attention. But there are many ways to “water” your relationship, so it helps to think of maintaining your relationship the way Franklin Covey illustrates relationship maintenance in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Covey’s metaphor is that every relationship is a bank account to which you make deposits and withdrawals. Many of the transactions are small, but quickly amount to significance.
For example, a compliment would be a small deposit, offering to cook dinner might be a larger one, and surprising your spouse with a vacation could be a large deposit. Things like disagreements, arguments, and pet peeves can all lead to withdrawals, which are inevitable even in the healthiest of relationships.
The question is are there enough deposits to cover the withdrawals? Are you maintaining a high and positive balance? And are you making regular deposits to ensure you never fall behind?
The Trifecta of Deposits
Many causes for relationship account withdrawals are beyond our control. For example, it wouldn’t be fair for Sara to blame her husband John because he has to go on a long business trip, but Sara and John always have control over what they can do to offset the negatives. By focusing on the deposits and creating an abundance of positive experiences, the withdrawals have very little effect on your relationship if and when they happen. As a general rule, you want to be making deposits daily, weekly, and monthly.
Daily 15 Do you think it would be too difficult to set aside one percent of your day to the person you love and want to spend the rest of your life with? We all have the same 24 hours in a day, and fifteen minutes devoted to our partner is one percent of that time. Push the world aside to spend some quality time together. Take a walk, play a game, or just unplugging from everything else to talk are the little deposits that add up over time. It’s not important that the time lasts five, fifteen, or sixty minutes a day so much as it is important that you’re building consistent habits around connection. Do something light and fun that you enjoy and when it works for you!
Weekly Date Night You should be going on dates as often as you did when you were dating. In the beginning, those dates built your connection with your partner and inspired attraction--dating works the same way now in the form of reconnecting and reinspiring attraction. When you wanted to impress your partner by looking nice, being in a fun mindset for the date, being thoughtful about the activity, you were making significant deposits in your relationship bank account. The good impressions you made on those dates earned your relationship account interest--whenever your partner was on your mind all those times, your balance was growing. You can still make those deposits, and now they come with a bonus; compounding interest so to speak. Now that you’re in love, you’re starting with a higher balance than you were when you were just getting to know each other. At the very least, there’s less pressure. You’re able to enjoy the date more because you’re more comfortable with each other. Before you were getting to know your partner and what makes them who they are, now you’ll start to see how you’ve had an impact on your their growth and their life. Go on an adventure, try a new restaurant, take a class together--you have a better idea now than you did before about what kind of activities you like to do, so make time to go do them!
Periodic Getaway We all need something to look forward to, and having a big and special event for and with your partner will keep your relationship thriving with anticipation for good things to come. What sorts of trips can you take, what sorts of fun projects can you do, how long has it been since you and your partner took some time to push the world aside and just enjoy life for a while? It doesn’t matter what or where or how. What matters is that you make time for something more significant than your usual dates. That you indulge yourself in excitement and anticipation, and that you reward yourself by making it happen.
Work That Doesn’t Feel Like Work
Ultimately the purpose of your relationship is to create positive experiences in life, and it’s hard to make that happen without investing time and work into the process. The catch is, the time will feel well-spent and the work should feel as fun as it did when you started making time to see each other. It’s not an obligation, it’s commitment. You love each other. You enjoy spending time together. The biggest deposits you’ll ever make in your relationship bank account are the ones that bring you together to share the fruits of your labor.
In the next blog, we’ll go deeper into how to structure your dates to get the most out of them. Done correctly, your date nights will often be the highlight of your week, so make sure to make time for them.
Until then, happy #relationshipping.