What is the secret ingredient to a long-lasting relationship? Each relationship is unique, just as each person is unique, but there appears to be at least one common factor throughout: Connection.
Too often we end up functioning with, rather than truly experiencing, truly connecting with, the other person. Without this connection, we can quickly forget why we were ever together in the first place. And then we open our relationship up to danger.
Connection can mean a whole range of things but some can include:
1. Looking at the person when they are talking to you
2. Responding to confirm you have understood what they have said
3. Asking them questions to show you have an interest about them
4. Offering physical contact, such as holding someone's hand
5. You try to carve out (even the smallest amount of) time together, without anyone else
6. You put down/turn off electronic devices such as social media
7. You follow up on a previous conversation with that person, to check in with how they are with that topic
8. You share vulnerabilities, admissions of mistakes, and you are not afraid of how you might be viewed by the other
Re-establishing a connection is such a common theme in my work. I have previously written about the myths about men and connection, and the link between addiction and a lack of connection. So too can a lack of connection rest at the heart of a relationship's problems.
To try and re-establish that connection, ask yourself these four questions -
1. What was it that first made me fall in love with my partner? What was the 'secret ingredient'?
2. How much of that is still present in our relationship?
3. How much more of that ingredient do I need to get back into our relationship (this is the long-term goal)?
4. What is the first step I need to take to start my journey towards that long-term goal (this is the short-term goal)?
It takes time and attention to re-establish that connection. And it is never a one-time exercise. But if we incorporate a small amount of connection (the secret ingredient) into our regular patterns, as much as we incorporate household chores, we will start to see results.
To read more about couples psychotherapy, click here.
Chris Warren-Dickins is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Ridgewood, New Jersey. He specializes in psychotherapy for couples, adolescents, men, and the LGBTQ+ community.
Sessions are available in-person at 162 E Ridgewood Ave, Ridgewood NJ 07451, or via the internet or telephone. Book a consultation today www.exploretransform.com