With February upon us, we can’t help but pause and think about our relationships. People in all types of relationships can benefit from reflecting, and of coursing enhancing, the quality of their relationships. You probably know this from your own experience, but our relationships have a great deal of influence on our emotional well-being overall and our overall level of “happiness.”

Here are a few tips:

Start with you! The people who are most successful in improving their relationships are those who are focused on self-improvement. It can be tempting to focus on what your partner could do to improve. A more effective and powerful approach is to invest in making changes in you. Changes in one person inherently cause changes in the relationship dynamic. Over and above the benefits of your personal improvements, it can be a powerful invitation to your mate who may join you in making some changes.  With a compassionate and open attitude, think about what qualities you might improve that would make you a more attractive person by your standards (the kind of person you wish to be) and see how this can ultimately contribute to making you a more appealing love partner.

Express your heart’s desire. If there’s a recurring challenge that couples in run into, it is the wish that their partner simply “knows” what they want and need without having to express it. It’s a wish that comes from deep within our psyche, to be so well understood that our needs are simply met. Rationally we know our partners could never live up to this expectation and ultimately our needs are unlikely to be met. What can feed this wish is our own discomfort expressing ourselves, making ourselves vulnerable. But there’s no way around it.

Here are a few tips :

  1. Start small with expressions of likes and dislikes that feel less threatening (activities, ideas, plans) and build up to what may feel harder for you (worries, fears, desires and how your partner can be there for you
  2. Use a book that helps you to find the words. One that you may find helpful is called “the 5 Love Languages” which can help you express yourself and help you to know your partner’s too!

Be the change. This tip connects back to the first in that it’s focused on you. Think about the changes you’d like to see in your relationship and go first! Consider the tone with which you engage each other. Is it pleasant? Does it invite the kinds of conversations, reactions, exchanges, understanding that you want? Could you try taking a different tack to change this dynamic. The easiest trick (it’s an old trick but it works): Think about what you want to express. Before you express it, play it out in your mind…from the listener’s perspective. Think honestly about how you’d react and adjust your words/approach as necessary. You’ll be amazed at how a small adjustments in your approach can make a big difference to the quality of the conversation and the strength of the relationship.

More pleasure! One of the “too-easy-to-forget” things in life is pleasure! We all get caught up in responsibilities and obligations but one of the most powerful things that bond us in relationships is pleasure. When couples have fun together, they relax, they laugh, and they connect positively. If you really want to please your partner, invite them to do something you know they enjoy and see what happens!

Which of these tips will you put into practice?  Do you have a fun idea that you will propose to your partner? Are there certain behaviours you will drop or new ones that you will add to be the change you want in your relationship?  Leave us a comment below and let us know!