No matter how great a relationship is, we all have anxiety at times about our partner’s commitment and feelings about us. It is wired into our brains because for thousands of years not being in a family or tribe that took care of each other meant not surviving. The following are several reminders about what sorts of things can be helpful in making us feel more secure, reassured, and satisfied in our relationships.
- Freely Give Each Other Reassurance
A lot of times in our relationships we make assumptions about what our partner is thinking or feeling. Doing and saying nice things can also begin to slide because we assume that our partner already knows we love them. It is extremely valuable and helpful for us to tell our partners we love them and are committed to them. I know I am not the best about this and it helps for me to make it part of my routine. One way I do this is by giving my wife and kids a kiss or hug and telling them I love them each time I leave the house and each time I come back home.
- Make Time to Connect
I ask couples all the time what kinds of things they like to do when they spend time together. I am amazed how many couples describe being with each other, but not actually spending time together. One example is from a couple we’ll call Jack and Kathy (not real names). Jack plays video games while Kathy sits next to him and checking out facebook and texting on her phone.
Now don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact it is important that couples get their own individual needs met and have time alone sometimes. The key is just that this isn’t considered spending time together. Couples need to turn off their devices and really focus on each other, preferably every day if possible.
- Make Each Other a Priority
This is another thing that is easy to take for granted. It’s easy to say, “Of course my wife is a priority. We’re married aren’t we?” Just like making your health a priority by eating right and going to the gym 3 times a week, making your relationship a priority takes ongoing, scheduled effort to keep it healthy and happy.
Recently a couple we’ll call John and Mary told me that he goes and works on his car all the time and she feels like he loves his car more than her. Because of that she goes out with her friends and makes a point to not be available to him. If John and Mary felt like they were making each other a priority and scheduling time to spend together, they probably wouldn’t care about working on the car and going out with friends.
- Show Your Partner You’re Thinking about Them
Some people find it to be very difficult to do little things each day to show their significant other that they’re thinking about them. This seems like an illusion to me. If I take 30 seconds, 2 times a day to text my wife a bitmoji telling her I love her it makes her feel like I am thinking about her and really do care about having her in my life (which I do). That’s only a 1 minute investment.
- Plan for the Future Together
One of the best ways couples can relieve each other’s anxiety is to make plans together. Whether it is buying a house, getting a dog, or even just planning a weekend getaway, making plans for the future shows each other that you continue to want to be together and allows for the opportunity to imagine yourselves together going forward. This is a fun way for couples to feel connected and plan for something they are both looking forward to.
Shane Birkel provides couple counseling and individual therapy to people with stress in their relationship. He is located in Dover, NH and serves people throughout the seacoast region of New Hampshire.