Happy New Year! Or was it? There is a big spike in couples seeking relationship therapy after the festive period is finished. The combination of financial pressures, visiting inlaws, being trapped indoors and eating and drinking too much can lead to a significant amount of stress. And when stress mounts, we are mostly likely to take it out on those who we are closest to, so this time of year, combined with the January blues can have an impact on even the most secure of couples.
So what can you do about it? Here are a few things to try get the spark back into your relationship.
1. Rediscover each other. When life is hectic around Christmas, we can so busy focusing on other people that you don’t actually spend much time as a couple. Why not spend an evening with your phones away, some candles, and a list of Discovery questions. What songs has your partner enjoyed listening to recently? What was their favourite tv show as a child? What do they hope to achieve in the year ahead? Using questions like these can draw you back into each other’s minds and bring greater emotional intimacy.
2. Soul Gazing. In the early stages of a relationship we spend a lot of time looking into our partner’s eyes. Over time, we can lose this connection but eye contact can be really important for closeness. Taken from Tantra, soul gazing is a way of reestablishing this connection, by opening up a non verbal communication channel. Quite simply, you stand or lie at close quarters to your partner, and look deep into each other’s eyes. This can feel very challenging and make us feel uncomfortable or vulnerable, so why not set a timer for 30 seconds and see how that feels before building up over time. Some couples like to put on a relaxing song and just Soul Gaze for the duration of the song. Sounds scary, but why not see what benefits you might find!
3. Visit somewhere new. Discovering new places together can be very fulfilling. Whether it’s visiting a new coffee shop, a different pub to your local, or a new National Trust attraction, exploring a new environment can help you break out of the same old same old that you might feel stuck in sometimes.
4. Do something new. Maybe you’ve always had an interest in doing a Thai cookery course, or going rock climbing? Perhaps you used to love live comedy but never go anymore? Or you’ve always wanted to join a choir? Taking up a new hobby can be refreshing for anyone at this time of year, but particularly exhilarating if you are learning with your partner. It’s like date night with a bonus! Why not find out what’s on your partners bucket list and see if you have any shared interests that you could develop together.
5. Practice Appreciation. Not feeling appreciated by their partner is one of the most common complaints in couples therapy. Why not start 2020 off with the resolution to offer more appreciation and compliments to your partner? It doesn’t have to be big things- maybe you can just notice when they do something helpful at home, or if they bring you a cup of tea. You could even try and sit down for 5 minutes every evening and tell each other 2 things that you have appreciated about the other person that day, no matter how small or insignificant it seems. Being appreciated for making the bed or going to work to earn money for the household can make all the difference.