Some of these you’ll recognise but some of them may be new to you. I’m taking a wild guess here but I’d say Andrew’s Tip 3 – “Argue more” – is not one that our parents passed down to us. Nor Tip 5 come to think of it – “Believe every word your partner says is true”. Mmmmm, not likely! Tip 7 – “Talk sideways” is an odd one too, although I have suggested in other blogs that that’s a good way to communicate with teenagers and turns out it’s good for spouses too.
Andrew G Marshall is a marriage therapist that I follow and I find his insights into relationships quite fascinating. Here are his seven major tips, and four minor ones too. I’ve included the link to his YouTube clip at the end if you have the time to watch it.
His number one tip is this one. And if you take one tip away from this blog, let it be this one.
- Don’t confuse family time with couple time. It’s one that we often do when time gets short and there are children who need our time too. Couple time is vital. Go for dinner. Hold handles over the candle light. And do it FOR the children. Looking after their parents’ love is a pretty amazing thing you’ll be doing for them.
- Share the initiation of sex. This can often fall on one partner which can impact that partner’s self-esteem in the relationship. Touch each other more. Little touches all through the day: squeeze of a shoulder, touch of the fingers in passing, touching the back of the neck, all release the bonding hormone oxytocin.
- Argue more. One of the biggest causes of couples falling out of love comes from suppressing their feelings, Andrew says. What happens is that when you switch off the irritation and the fed-up feelings you ALSO switch off the positive feelings. Don’t bury feelings, talk things out. Aim to talk more and listen more and accept more. It’s more worrying when couples say they never argue…has all feeling completely left that marriage?
- Accept each other as you are. It’s not great to feel like you’re always a work-in-progress, something that has to be improved. That doesn’t make you feel loved. And that’s true for your partner too of course.
- Believe every word your partner says is true. Because it IS true in their world. What we do is we start putting brackets around what they say. (I’m not that bad.) (It’s not true; I emptied the dishwasher yesterday) and in fact, what we’re doing is we’re not accepting that any of it is true. Could we change the interaction and our behaviour if we accepted that what they said was true? And if it is true, what do we want to change?
- Plan for intimacy. Sex is the glue that holds relationships together. Make a plan for it.
- Talk sideways: Face-to-face chatting can become heavy and even confrontational. Whereas chatting sideways when out walking or driving can cover the same topic but with much more lightness. It also offers natural pauses which gives needed breathing spaces in couple conversations.
So, those are the BIG SEVEN.
And here are the SMALL FOUR.
- Look at each other more. Actually make eye contact. Couples in love make eye contact 75 percent of the time. (Think about the phone here and what it is costing your relationship.)
- Getting your ratio of positive strokes right: five positive to one negative. It takes five positive interactions to balance out that one negative. Some ideas: leave small notes, bring home a small gift, send a thank you text, send a loving emoji. Big up the positives to balance out those negatives.
- Get some good habits going. Always greet each other warmly at the end of the day. Always say goodbye warmly at the start of the day. Practise the six-second hug. Stay in it.
- And then finally, keep doing all these things. It takes three to four weeks of doing them before they bring about change and just as long for them to become habit.