Every relationship needs to be nurtured -- on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.
Dr. Cara Gardenswartz: Couples can remind each other that they are thinking of each other throughout the day. This can be accomplished through small things (that mean a lot), such as an "I love you" text, an e-mail including a love note or picture, flowers at the office (even a single rose), or a card in the mail (yes, snail mail can do wonders). As part of the relationship, couples should listen to each other, and respect each other's thoughts, dreams, careers, and fears. Treat each other with the utmost importance, rather than taking out your stress on your partner. When I work with couples, I remind them that they are a TEAM -- not each other's enemies. While this may seem obvious, it is typical for couples, who trust that their partner will always stick around, to give each other the "short end of the stick." If you (or your partner) are upset about something, make sure you don't "snap," but rather put your concerns into words. Likewise, the other member of the "team" should validate their partner by listening and offering care and support -- and only if wanted, advice.
Couples often revert to daily life routines that may inadvertently ignore the intellectual component of their relationship. I recommend that every couple finds some time during the week to discuss political or other issues of interest, or attend cultural events that lead to discussion and intellectual stimulation. When a couple is intellectually stimulated, they naturally feel more attracted to each other.
Couples should make time for physical and sexual nurturing. Examples include daily "snuggle time" after work or before sleep (which inevitably will lead to more sexual desire), date nights (at least one to two times a week -- yes, even if you have kids!), holding hands, a quick kiss and "thank you" at the end of a meal, back scratches while watching TV, and turning off the computer for "our time" come 8-9 PM at night.
Sexual nurturing is a very important part of maintaining a healthy relationship. It is also a sign of how much cognitive, emotional, and physical time has been devoted to the relationship. For instance, if a couple is fighting about a financial situation (instead of using healthy communication skills), they will be less likely to feel attracted to each other and will repel each other sexually instead. In addition to nurturing the other parts of the relationship to secure attraction, couples need to promote romance: from showing up at each other's offices midday (lingerie under the outerwear), to love notes or seductive voicemails, to putting on romantic music, to listening to each other's fantasies.
If you attend to your relationship in these emotional, cognitive, and physical ways, you are likely to have a happy and healthy long relationship.
|Dr. Cara Gardenswartz is a licensed clinical psychologist who provides therapy to individuals and couples and runs psychotherapy groups. Her expertise include relationships, depression, anxiety, life transitions, trauma and addiction. She has over 16 years of education, training, and experience in her field. She received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and went on to earn her Master's and Doctorate in Psychology at the UCLA. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son.|