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This post on Couples Therapy beyond the Counselors Office is sponsored by Regain.us. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Let’s start by saying that beyond a few visits with our local religious leader (aka LDS Bishop), and seeing individual counselors, I have never actually gone to a couples therapy. I do believe counselors can be very beneficial, and couples I’ve talked to who have or are meeting with one, have only good things to say about the improvement in their relationship. So is it worth it to visit a licensed therapist? I’ll let Regain.us convince you of that in their article – Couples Therapy Cost: Is It Worth It?
I’d like to speak today more to the things we can do as couples beyond the counselors office. Any relationship has to be nourished to thrive. It’s very much like a plant. You can’t buy a plant because you love it, then set it on a table, ignore it, and wonder why it died a week later.
Similarly, you can’t date someone, tell them you love them, maybe even marry them, and then ignore them, fight with them, and hope that they will still love you in the end.
So what do you do to keep your relationship nourished? I reached out to my friends and asked for some of their tips on keeping the spark and love alive in a relationship. Their thoughts come from experience at growing their own relationships to connect as a couple.
Couples Therapy by You
Write Love Notes
There are a number of ways you can implement this one. One friend uses a dry eraser marker and every day they write one thing they love/like about the other. Another friend uses sticky notes to leave her husband notes. I actually carry a pad of sticky notes with pre-written love notes to leave on Mark’s car when I drive by his work. Sticky notes are also great if your husband takes a lunch to work.
If you are religious, coming together as a couple in prayer to God, will ultimately improve your relationship. Praying as a couple means uniting in one person to seek supplication from a higher being. As we seek for love and understanding through a similar belief, our hearts are more open to accepting each other as they are.
Buy a Massage Table
This one is a bit of a running joke in our family. Mark’s brother bought a massage table, but quite frequently it’s used to hold the unfolded laundry, papers, and other clutter. I’m sure it gets it’s use sometimes though… Either way, it is a good idea to create a space in your home to reconnect with each other. Whether it be a massage table, or just the massage tools, connecting through physical touch is important for couples.
Go Out Without The Kids
At least once a month a date night out should be required for married couples. After marriage, it’s easy to let the kids, work, and household responsibilities get in the way of date nights. Don’t let it. If possible, make it a weekly date night, but I’m a realist so I know that can be difficult when you first start to rekindle a relationship. Go ahead and have home dates weekly, after the kids are in bed. Just make it a commitment to once a month get out and don’t even talk about the kids!
Make Time for Conversation
A good date night to the movie is always nice, but it leaves little room for conversation. Picking activities that allow more time to speak and share our lives instead of just living them side by side can only help the blossoms to bloom. My friends suggest things such as dancing, going for walks in parks, and making Home Depot runs together. One of my favorite day dates was a walk in the park followed by a picnic lunch on the grass.
A good hearty laugh with your spouse is sometimes truly needed. After one of our worst years, after the funeral of my Father-In-Law, we took the kids to a park to get some energy out. Mark and I hopped on a double swing, and soon the laughter was just bubbling out of me. A comment was made, that that kind of laughing hadn’t been heard in quite some time. Laughter allows the stress of life to wash away, if only for a moment in time, and that can bring two people much closer together.
When money becomes a stresser in a marriage it can be difficult to purchase anything unneeded. However, if you can manage to put in a little bit of funds to every so often surprise your spouse with a little something they would like, you’ll find a smile waiting for you when it’s given. Gift cards to their favorite lunch spot, a favorite candy bar, flowers, it doesn’t have to be big at all.
If you read an article I wrote last weekend, you’ll know I believe it’s important that we recognize the differences in our spouse and ourselves. So, yes you will have disagreements. It’s important that when you have these disagreements though, you do so respectfully. If you can listen to each other, truly open your ears and your heart you’ll grow together. In the words of one friend, “When we leave the disagreement understanding each other more and feeling understood it can be a very powerful experience that builds that bond closer.”
Try New Things
As we are different people, trying new things serves for a 2-fold purpose. First, it’s just fun to try something new, and when you do it as a couple, you are creating memories together. Secondly, it’s good to try something that is new to you, but that your spouse has always loved. Showing an interest in something you may not have tried otherwise tells your companion that you love who they are, and are interested in more than the feeling of love, but the action.