Give your relationship a jump-start in time for Valentine’s Day
- Credit: PA
Heartfelt declarations of love, candlelit dinners and flower bouquets are some of the traditional ways to mark Valentine’s Day.
But what if you’re single? Or what if you’re in a partnership but secretly feel it could be more loving and fulfilling?
Couples gazing adoringly at each other in restaurants and romantic gestures and tokens can be hard to bear if, at heart, you’re lonely, or that togetherness isn’t quite there.
“Relationships need regular care and time and thoughtfulness if they’re going to be healthy and stable, and to ensure your partnership survives the inevitable ups and downs of life together,” says Sarah Rozenthuler, author of Life-Changing Conversations: 7 Strategies For Talking About What Matters Most.
“Romantic or thoughtful gestures to show how much you care should be a regular occurrence and are more important than a showy gift on Valentine’s Day,” she says.
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Rozenthuler gives her top tips for making your partnership more loving.
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Checking emails, making phone calls, watching TV and online surfing eats away at the time you spend together and can often be an excuse for not communicating, says Rozenthuler.
Give yourselves quality time together during which you have a “media break”.
Share views, clear the air, really listen to what your partner has to say, then reflect back what you’ve heard.
Resist the temptation to interrupt, let them finish their sentences, and always end on a positive note by saying, for instance, “Thank you for telling me what you feel”.
Spice up your sex life
If the physical side of your relationship has become routine, take a risk and do something different.
If you’re stuck for ideas, ask your partner for a memory of some great sex they had with you and see what you can learn to re-create some of the excitement of the early days of your relationship.
You might need to have a weekend away from the children so you can enjoy being a couple again, or take more time to enjoy the sensual side of sex by massaging each other, talking and relaxing together.
Monitor your mood
Partners are susceptible to absorbing each other’s moods, which can be positive when one of you has a good day but negative if the other person’s bad day at the office contaminates you both.
Develop strategies so you can individually change your mood if you’re down in the dumps - it might be a five-minute walk outdoors or listening to uplifting music.
A relationship can be hard work as you each try to find ways to accommodate the other’s needs, wants and desires, Rozenthuler points out.
Make a mutual commitment to regularly spend time together doing things that you both enjoy, whether it’s trips to the cinema, dance classes or planing a holiday.
Keep the romance
Thoughtful gestures and actions needn’t cost money or take much time but they’ll make your other half feel special and appreciated, she says.
“Cook their favourite meal once a week, run them a bath or play their favourite music,” Rozenthuler suggests.
“During your day, bookmark memorable moments in your mind to share with your partner when you get home.”
Invest in relationship skills
If your relationship is riddled with tension, get help, says Rozenthuler.
“Identify what the core issue is and search out ways to deal with it whether that’s getting some couple therapy, asking a GP or specialist for help, or reading books which focus on improving relationships,” she says.
Relate is the UK’s largest provider of relationship counselling and sex therapy. For more information, visit www.relate.org.uk
Allow yourselves time apart occasionally, she advises. That allows you to be an individual again and to reconnect with your own interests and maybe a separate circle of friends.
Rozenthuler says: “Breathing space from each other can invigorate a relationship, not least because it means you both have new experiences and stories to share with each other when you’re together.”
Make the rules
Many relationships suffer as a result of one individual making decisions without consulting their partner, says Rozenthuler.
“It can leave the other person resentful because they feel their feelings or opinions don’t matter.”
Moving from “me” to “we” maximises the likelihood that any decisions taken will reflect both your perspectives.
Information: Life-Changing Conversations: 7 Strategies For Talking About What Matters Most by Sarah Rozenthuler is published by Watkins Publishing, priced £8.99. Available from Amazon and www.sarahrozenthuler.com