While we might seem tuned into each other through social media, text, email, phone, video conferencing and even in person, we remain a relatively disconnected society. Our primary relationships are no exception to this rule.
Lisbeth and Angel admit enjoying learning about one another and the excitement at the start of a relationship. They both realize this has faded over time. What once was exciting to each of them, has now become more mundane. How Lisbeth and Angel can bring a little spark back to their relationship is by sharpening one of the main tools in their relationship toolbox; their communication skills.
By tuning up their communication skills, they have an opportunity to bring back that newness, excitement, and intrigue of a new romance, while also solidifying the deepness and strength of their partnership.
How Good Are Your Boundaries?
Lisbeth works as a nurse and feels that sometimes Angel becomes her sounding board after a rough day. While debriefing with your partner is essential to self-care, it can also cause friction and strife in a partnership. It may seem strange to set up boundaries in a relationship to actually strengthen your connection, but it’s essential to protecting each other’s energy. Leaning on each other too much can deplete the richness and the excitement of a relationship.
Setting boundaries help us gain some footing and focus on what is within our control. For Lisbeth and Angel, a specific amount of time for debriefing allows each partner to talk about their day, release frustrations and then move on. For more intense occupations, like public safety and medicine, it can be easy to fall into a nightly complaint session which becomes one-sided. By setting a specific time, it allows both sides time to be heard and then puts a finality to the day and possibly the drama.
Have You Found Your Clan?
Angel admits that she sometimes feels alienated. Lisbeth works long hours, and Lisbeth would like to connect with others. Joining supportive communities offers Angel a chance to work with others and share with those who have similar interests.
For those in the LGBTQ community, communities can provide a safe space to connect with others. Also, they become a place to address issues often overlooked and not discussed in non-LGBTQ focused media. It’s a place to practice communication and honing relationships healthily. It extends the circle of knowledge and fostering experiences to share with partners. It’s a way to enjoy connections and interests beyond your primary relationship and may add additional insights from a wider lense of people
Shake-Away the Boredom
Angel admits that there’s a monotony that’s crept into their relationship. They come home eat dinner, talk about work, watch some T.V., and then climb into bed. After the dishes are done, the dog is fed, and the bills are paid, Angel wonders if there is more to being a couple than these daily routines.
There’s hope for dusting away the mundane and bringing back luster and shine to their relationship. Just like we tune out the day with T.V., music or social media, we also can tune out each other. Angel and Lisbeth have learned to disconnect from the bad, but sometimes completely disconnected from each other too. In their busy and sometimes chaotic world, it can be challenging to find the energy to keep motivated in a relationship. Here are some techniques to make more time to connect.
Whether it’s making a game of the highs and lows or their day at dinner or giving each other a defined amount of time to debrief, guidelines like these help them feel less alone and a part of something. Even single individuals can find ways to connect with friends and family, whoever your circle of people is. Whether with a partner or friends, take the evening to enjoy with like-minded peers. The experience helps break the monotonous routine.
Focus On What Works
The old adage of not reinventing the wheel relates well to relationships. When couples hit a bump in the road, it’s natural to run looking for a cure. Angel and Lisbeth admit when things are going well, it all feels comfortable and natural. Before jumping into several new solutions, sometimes the most insightful knowledge comes from making a simple checklist of what’s going well.
Weekly check-ins are a great way to assess the wellness of a relationship. This simple act can highlight potential issues before they grow. It also provides an opportunity to share in gratitude, which we know helps to improve the self-esteem and mood of both those receiving compliments and those giving.
Angel and Lisbeth can pick a night or two a week to talk about what has been helpful, what has caused stress or what would be beneficial. Another idea is to have a suggestion jar. During the week Angel and Lisbeth can add their thoughts and offers of gratitude to the jar. On a chosen night the couple reviews what was added and discuss needs and strengths from the week.
Did you know that figuring out your preferred Communication Style can be the first step toward real connection with a partner?
This is true even if you’re dating. Take our Communication Style quiz, based on over 2000 other LGBT individuals who have come through our program. Find the connection you deserve, today.
ABOUT SAM GARANZINI, LMFT, LPCC, and ALAPAKI YEE, LMFT
Sam Garanzini and Alapaki Yee are Certified Gottman Method Couples Therapists and the co-founders of the Gay Couples Institute – the world’s only gay and lesbian couples counseling clinic. The Gay Couples Institute has locations in Northern California and Manhattan, as well as online counseling services available.
For more information about how the Gay Couples Institute can help you, please visit: www.gaycouplesinstitute.org