Forget Valentine’s Day, keep the spark sizzling all year round

Fashion woman with red lips sends air kiss lollipop heart

It’s February 14 and, supposedly, the day we show our partner how much we love them.

However, for a healthy relationship it’s important we aim to do this every day. Instead of focusing all of your love and care into one day, why not make a Valentine’s pledge to keep the spark alive all year round?

It’s easy to fall into a rut, especially those of us in longer term relationships. Work commitments and raising young children means we often put other priorities above our relationship and can result in taking our partner for granted.

But by paying attention to our loved one a little more and following some of these tips you can build and maintain a stronger relationship:

Communication

Being open and honest with your partner will strengthen your relationship. It’s important to have positive and regular two-way communication – share your daily experiences with your partner, no matter how insignificant you think they may be and be sure to ask them about their day too.

Whilst you think your partner may know everything about you, they can’t read your mind.

Talk to each other and listen to your partner’s thoughts and concerns and make time for important discussion topics which will help clear the air and provide a unified approach to any problems which need solving.

Poor communication can feel as though our partner isn’t interested and can be a key source of conflict in a relationship often leading to arguments.

Empathy

Relationships can start to suffer when we’re too focused on our own experiences. Is your partner upset about something that perhaps they aren’t articulating?

Give them your full attention and try to see the situation from their perspective.

Empathy is a key psychological process whereby we try to understand someone else’s experiences and perceptions from their point of view, rather than from our own.

This can be difficult but is an extremely powerful method of enhancing communication. By being more empathetic and compassionate you are prioritising your partners needs alongside yours, giving you a much more fulfilled and balanced relationship.

Trust

Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship. Many people associate this with trusting their partner won’t cheat on them. However, we also need to know that we can rely on our partner for day-to-day tasks.

Do you keep their promises and follow through on them?

If you say you’ll pick the kids up from school and then forget this puts huge pressure on not just the present but future similar occasions too. Be open with your partner and don’t tell them you will do something if it’s unlikely you will.

Time

We live busier more stressful lives than past generations and it’s easy to fall into the trap of working too much, checking emails at home or spending too much time on our phones instead of spending quality time with our partner.

Why not arrange a regular ‘date night’ where you do something together, just the two of you?

This is a perfect excuse to enjoy doing something you both love, such as going out for a meal, having some drinks or taking part in a mutual hobby.

Having fun in your relationship, and having the same type of ‘dates’ as you did when you first started the relationship or before you had kids, helps us remember why we enjoy being with our partner. And, it doesn’t have to be expensive – going for a simple walk or run will feel very fulfilling and bring your closer together.

Surprise, surprise!

Reignite the fire in your relationship by planning the odd surprise for your partner. Whether it’s whisking them away for the weekend or bringing home a thoughtful gift, it will make them feel special and loved that you have spent time and thought on them.

However, not all gestures need to be grand. Why not surprise your partner by doing one of their usual ‘jobs’ such as doing the washing when it’s their turn do it, or cooking them a meal you know they’ll like? This will make your partner feel valued and appreciated.

Intimacy

Physical and emotional intimacy is an important part in any relationship and it makes us feel closer to our partner.

Does your partner know you find them attractive? By telling or showing them, and enjoying some intimate moments, you are boosting their self-esteem and making them feel secure in the relationship.

After all, it’s this intimacy that sets your relationship with your partner apart from the other relationships in your life.

So, rather than letting a Valentine’s Day card do all the talking, show your partner how much you love them by demonstrating it more often and maintaining a strong, successful relationship.

Professor Ewan Gillon, Chartered psychologist and clinical director of First Psychology Aberdeen.

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