Hitting the Refresh Button 

I recently celebrated my 15th anniversary with my amazing woman. Feels like a milestone, is a milestone.  We had the sweet opportunity to return to where we honeymooned in Lamington National Park on the Queensland and New South Wales Borders.

On our drive up the mountain, we were chatting about how our bond and connection has endured and how we have managed to grow and deepen our love over time.  Of course, along the way there has been stumbles and glitches like all long term relationships and surviving the early parenting years was no easy feat.  But here we are. Whatever the secret pheromone mix and attachment schemas we inhabit in our coupledom, one thing is certain:  It has been a conscious decision individually, and an intentional action between us, to keep ‘turning into’ the relationship that has been paramount. 

Many couples I work with, this idea can be an enormous relationship refresher that inspires connection and care.  It can often start with some fairly simple ideas.

A Co-Created Field:  Remember!  Generally, (the exception being in partner violence) relationships are a co-created dance floor that each partner is responsible for!  It takes two-to-tango as the old saying goes! The more you can see the dance steps, learn what you bought to designing them, and work out when you’re playing the music or when your partner is, the quicker you can drop blame.  Beyond any doubt, this will save your relationship from disconnection every time you choose to slow down and tune in.

Ritualising Transitions:  A simple starting place can be building in some solid touch points to connecting when there are transitions between time together and apart.  Like, for instance, if one partner is heading off to work or out for the day.  Making sure that you connect (and I don’t just mean a kiss or wave goodbye) before separating or upon returning is an easy and potentially transforming gift.  It’s that extra moment, extra glance, longer touch or kinder words that can really sustain us during a period of absence.  These extra connection threads can help both partners feel like their significant other is ‘there and with me’ dampening down any disconnection that’s likely to have surfaced during a day, where we can often feel strung out though parenting, work or other living demands.  Usually, these moments open up more possibility for a positive vibe and nurturing energy.  Another obvious transition is going to bed and waking up, and when possible ritualising these moments, in the same way, can build a stronger care container for both partners, relaxing each other nervous systems, deepening sleep rhythms or setting up for a sweet day feeling loved.

Intentional ‘Us Time’:  Often, couples rhythms together become automated and they can start acting out old behaviours and patterns.  Slipping back into either dysfunction or complacency and forgetting how to elicit, invite and access each others protection and care.  Prioritising your relationship and creating moments of intentional, meaningful connection is enormously valuable.  Critically, couples can get stuck thinking that the only relief will come from a ‘date night’ or perhaps a weekend away.  And of course, the time, cost or lack of good will can make this a cyclic disaster zone for connection.  What’s more relevant, is setting up regular times during the week, even if for just 30min, 1 x night or day per week (perfect for tired parents) where both partners set aside the time to share space.  The key to success is the intention of each partner to be available, responsive, engaged, caring and protective to yourself and the other.  How you spend the time is up to you!  Be creative…Dance, meditate, share, make love, talk, touch.  If you have the intention right, this 30 min ‘us time’ can be just the relational alchemy needed for tuning up your sore spots.

These two ideas, although simple on paper, take a type of discipline and practice by both partners.  Even writing this, I’m keenly aware of the times it’s been easy to disappear from a connection.  Remembering the value in shared moments, intentionally and consciously looking out for each other, can really renew a couples relationship bliss.

Sean Tonnet is a Relationship Therapist working in Mullumbimby, Northen NSW.  Check out more of his work at www.seantonnet.com.au/media or contact him directly at connect@seantonnet.com.au