Most people know that waiting for the red flashing check engine light, is not the best way to maintain their car. Regular attention to little things like fluid levels can lengthen the life of a car. Likewise relationships benefit from regular attention to the little things. A regular relationship tune up is more important that regular maintenance of your car.
Creating healthy relationship habits can help prevent wear and tear on your relationship and possibly avoid major problems. Let’s face it; we are all going to fall into ruts. The majority of what we do in life is routine or done by habit. We can, however take advantage of this fact by developing and encouraging healthy habits and entrenching ourselves in good ruts, that enhance rather than erode our relationship. Think of this as putting gas in the tank, watching fluid levels and changing the oil.
Healthy Relationship Habits:
- Think lovingly of your partner every day
- Express gratitude
- Positive leaving and returning routines; look each other in the eye, hug, kiss, smile
- Protect couple time
- Use the sandwich approach when dealing with concerns (Start with something positive, express your concern and end with something positive)
- Create a safe place to share your thoughts
- Make seeing what is good the priority
- Practice acceptance, rather than judgment
Your relationship does not come with standard warning lights or a maintenance manual to point out areas of concern. The following could be used as a maintenance checklist:
Yearly Check In At least once a year have a check in. Create complete safety so that each of you can be honest at this time. Take whatever your partner says as feedback, not criticism. Rate each other as partners, from 1 – 10 (where 10 means everything is perfect). Whatever the response, ask what would it take to make it a 10? (unless it already is).
Self-Assess Your Resentment Gauge Ask yourself, on a scale from 1 – 10, how resentful do I feel toward my partner? Anything over a 3 indicates that maintenance is needed. Allowing your resentment level to continue to rise is extremely damaging to the relationship. Sometimes resentment builds up because someone has a difficult time saying “no” or someone has a difficult time hearing “no.” Boundaries may need to be set, firmly and consistently and forgiveness may need to happen.
Check Your Fun Gauge Ask yourselves: When was the last time that we went on a date, just the two of us? When was the last time we got away for a couple’s weekend or holiday, again just the two of us? What do we do for fun together? And sitting in front of the TV or gaming does not count. Having fun together only counts if you are making eye contact and smiling.
Check The Fulfillment Gauge How fulfilling are you finding your relationship? To increase your sense of fulfilling try learning something new together, or finding a way to contribute outside of yourselves, together. Try doing something new together regularly.
Check The Connection Level How connected are you feeling to each other? If you are feeling less that connected try reaching out in different ways to let the other know that you care. Do your best to learn what helps your partner feel loved and do it. Think about the kind and caring looks, the gestures, the touches and verbal expressions of love and appreciation. In these cases the small stuff is the big stuff.
Check the Dream Gauge Do you know what your partner’s dreams are? What are your couple dreams? Try getting past the acquisition of stuff, kind of dreams. Think about when your relationship feels the best? And brainstorm ways to create more of that.
Regularly checking to see how your relationship is doing can allow you to fix problems when they are small. If the check engine light of your relationship is flashing. If you are noticing that you may be in need of some major repairs, take immediate action. It may be time to reach out for some help.