It is not uncommon to lose that sense of connection to your other half in today’s world. We have resources upon resources to stay connected even when we may be millions of miles apart. But we want to feel deeply connected to our partners. It is the beauty of committed relationships. It can be easy to stop getting to know your partner. You may feel like you know everything there is to know about yours. The truth is, your partner is constantly growing and changing as a person. So are you. So, here are three simple ways to foster some deeper connection with your significant other:
1. Play games and have fun.
As we grow up, we forget the importance of play (and I’m not just talking physical). We have creative minds and it is a healthy practice to engage in activities with our partners that will encourage us to create and share together. So, whip out those favorite childhood games, or try some new ones. Some of my favorite games to encourage couples to play are The Ungame, which provides you with fun questions to respond to while also encouraging the practice of active listening, and The Gottman Couple’s Retreat Board Game. Another great tool is the Couples Q&A a Day book, where each of you respond to a question every day for up to 3 years! It can be fun to reflect on past answers, and you will be surprised how much you can learn about your partner’s innermost thoughts from this 2 minute daily activity.
2. Change the way you check in with them.
Instead of the ever-so-standard “how was work/how was your day?” question, changing the way you format your check-ins will quickly create a space where your partner can comfortably open up to you on a deeper level. So, instead of going through the motions, try some of these questions to get your partner more engaged in a deeper dialogue:
What was the best part of your day today?
When was a time you laughed today?
What did you daydream about today?
What was the most stressful part of your day?
Or…I like these simple yet meaningful statements to let your partner know they were on your mind:
I found myself thinking about you today when _______.
I thought about how busy we both have been and decided to put a date night on our calendar, does this night work for you too?
You have been working some long hours and I have been feeling frazzled this week. Let’s go for a walk tonight and talk about our dream vacation. (Real or not, this can be a great topic to romanticize about together and get your minds of the busyness of your day.)
Notice that none of the above questions are closed-ended (yes/no) questions. They are open-ended and call for an actual response. They cannot be answered with a “fine, nothing, good”. They require dialogue and that is what will leave you and your partner more connected in those simple, conversational moments. So get creative with your questions and make your check-ins an opportunity to know each other even more deeply.
3. Begin a daily ritual to connect.
One of the most rewarding things couples can do that is both gratifying for the giver and fulfilling for the receiver is to share appreciations. I suggest beginning a nightly ritual of offering an appreciation to your partner for something they did, said, or led you to feel that day. Take turns, but both of you share each night. Be specific as you recount what it was that made you feel so good and thankful. You will notice that, as you engage in this practice more and more (especially if you keep it up daily), you will find yourself seeking (and seeing) the things you appreciate and love about your partner more. You will recognize a positive shift in your focus of him/her, which will lead to a greater sense of connectedness. Try it for a week or two and see how you feel. I bet you won’t regret it.