Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tips for Nurturing Your Relationship

Life with kids is busy, right? You barely feel like you have enough time to get the necessities done (feed and clean kids, take care of house, work, appointments, etc.). For many people, the two areas of our life which have the greatest impact on our overall happiness and satisfaction fall to the very, very, VERY bottom of the 'Life List'.

1) Time to nurture self
2) Time to nurture your love relationship

Let's talk about the relationship piece here.

Of course, over time and with more responsibilities added to the mix (i.e. kids), there is going to be less focus on 'couple time'. However, when we choose to let everything else in life trump nurturing our love relationship, we are asking for trouble.

Parents wonder why the spark has burnt out or why in a few short years they have gone from being connected and in love to not even knowing who they are married to anymore.

It's called a lack of nurturing.

Take a plant for example. A really strong, hearty plant may be able to survive for awhile with no water, attention and nurturing. But that's really all it's doing: it's surviving. And over time it becomes weaker and weaker and less able to handle the tough times (extreme weather, a move, being trampled, etc.). Give a plant with good roots even just a little water, attention and nurturing and that can be the difference between it surviving versus thriving.

However, a less sturdy plant may not last long at all without these essential elements.

So it is for a relationship. A relationship with strong roots (foundation) can usually survive without the needs of both people being met continuously; without active love, attention and nurturing. But you are simply surviving, not thriving.

A relationship that doesn't have strong roots or is already weak may not be able to survive without the essential elements of time, connection and nurturing.

A little, consistent nurturing can go a long way and help deepen the roots of any relationship.

Nurturing is what helps a plant grow stronger.
Nurturing is what keeps a plant alive.
Nurturing is what helps a relationship grow stronger.
Nurturing is what is keeps a relationship alive.

What are you doing to nurture your love relationship? You don't have to spend a lot of time to nurture it, but you do need to give it some heart. This is one of those areas where the idea of "quality over quantity" is really true. Your nurturing acts or moments do not need to take long.
  • It's the small things like little notes to simply remind your spouse that you are thinking of him/her.
  • It's the conversations beyond, "what's going on with the kids?" and "what's the schedule for next week?"
  • It's the few minutes of snuggling before you fall asleep.
  • It's taking a few brief moments to actually look in your partners eyes when they walk in the door and greet them with warmth.
  • It's making one night a week your night, whether you have a babysitter or not, to eat dinner together (alone), sit on the couch and talk, or work on a project together; to connect and interact on a deeper level then the practicalities of life and parenting.
Tips for success:
  1. Set the intention now to nurture your relationship each and every day.
  2. Be open and inspired by what ideas you have (big or small) to support this intention.
  3. When a thought comes to mind ("I want to call Mike and tell him I am thinking of him"), act on it if you can in that moment. Don't over-analyze it or rationalize it away. Take the inspired action. Those are the ones that usually take the least time, are the most pleasurable for us, and have the best results.
  4. Start each day with the reminder and intention to notice and act on small ways to nurture your relationship.
  5. End each day checking in with yourself as to what you did to nurture your relationship.
  6. Better yet, discuss the idea of consciously nurturing your relationship with your spouse/partner and do the checking in with each other at the end of the day.

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