Things to Try to Improve Relationships

A menu of Small Habits that can make Big Changes.

Treat this like a menu, not a to-do list. Pick one thing to try at a time, focus on it for 3 to 4 weeks, then try something else.

Admiration, Affirmation, Appreciation

Gratitude is healing for both the “thanker” and the “thanked.” At least once per day, admire, affirm, or appreciate through words, writing, or actions.

Healthy Reunions

Every time you come back together after being apart for an hour or more, in the first 30-60 seconds: hug, kiss, ask each other, “How was … (the gym, work, the grocery store, etc.)?” and give a short answer to that question. Try to make the kiss last at least 6 seconds.

Share Feelings

You don’t have to be gushing. Just share the two biggest feelings of the day before. They could both be good, both bad, or one of each. Share the feelings and the situations behind them.

Share Dreams and Goals

You are unique individuals with unique dreams and goals. Healthy relationships learn how to honor each individual’s dreams and goals, even when they seem like conflicting dreams and goals. This helps balance independence with dependence for healthier attachment.

Co-Calming

When either one of you is overwhelmed, stop talking, make eye contact, put your hand out with your palm up. If safe, gently touch the back of your spouse or partner’s elbow or hold their hand. Sit quietly together and take long, slow, deep breaths. Calming down together is better than calming down alone, when possible.

Build Connection

This could be a date, but it can also be simpler than that. Get at least 30 minutes together without screens and without kids to talk, play a board game or card game, or just sit quietly together without distractions. You may have to wake up before the kids, stay up later than the kids, or get a babysitter.

Pray or Meditate Together

Engaging in your spirituality together is one of the best ways to bring together the benefits of sharing dreams and goals, co-calming, and building connection. Try one of these apps Headspace, Calm, or Abide (Judeo-Christian meditation).

Volunteer Together

Find a cause that you both care about, and volunteer to serve that cause together.

Track Your Efforts and Results

With the printable version of this resource, there is an efforts and results tracker to help you do this. See the video above for an explanation for how to use it.

Download the Printer Friendly Version of This Resource

Next Steps

If you're ready, you can get started with counseling at Restored Life. Or, if we're full, not in your area, or just not the right fit, you can get matched with a great therapist for you at Mental Health Match.
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