5 minute read
As millennials begin to approach middle adulthood, many are enjoying the benefits that come with it including more stable friendships, jobs/income, increased self-awareness and a better sense of who they are. However, they are now also beginning to experience something that profoundly affected many of them when they were children, divorce.
The internet creates opportunities that make it easier to secretly engage in extramarital affairs, or hide the kind of porn addiction that drives a wedge in a relationship and creates unrealistic expectations about sex. We live in a ‘hook up’ culture, with avatars, screen names and very little accountability. These pressures take their toll, and Millennials as a generation are defining what it means to be in a healthy relationship in the digital age.
So What Do We Do? 3 Easy Ways To Improve Your Relationship
Even with all of the challenges that couples face in the digital age, I have worked with many clients who have found ways to thrive in their relationships. Here are some of the skills and techniques that I have seen help couples have healthy, well-balanced relationships.
Also called habits or routines, rhythms help couples in relationships provide a level of predictability. Daily rhythms do not mean that there is no room for spontaneity. Couples can be spontaneous while having day to day rhythms that help them stay focused and connected. They are especially helpful for couples in which one or both of the partners have a history of addiction. Many of my clients note that they struggle more with past addictions when they get out of their rhythms, for example, when they are on vacation (even with their partner), visiting family, or are at home with nothing to do.
Another rhythm that many couples have noted help them stay connected is going to sleep together at night. This provides opportunities to be physical, emotionally connect, and helps keep one of the partners from being up and around by themselves with temptations lurking. Also, make sure to have time in bed without smartphones or other distractions. The bedroom can be a great place to play, cuddle, wrestle, and talk.
Rhythms are one reason that people who travel for business, such as touring musicians, can potentially struggle maintaining stable relationships. There are other challenges as well, the distance being an obvious one. But with lack of rhythms it can make a deeper level of connection and accountability much more difficult.
- Well balanced relationships
One major problem I have seen with couples, even the ones who are very much in love, is not having a well balanced relationship in which they can spend time apart and with other people. Renowned couples therapist Esther Perel in her book Mating in Captivity notes that the partner in a modern relationship takes the place of what a village used to do. The partner is now the confidant, best friend, lover, care-taker, and counselor. Although there can be benefits to this, I have found that couples thrive when they have a community of people around them who support them in various ways and do not solely rely on their partner. A few practical ideas that have helped couples include;
- Getting involved in clubs or activities both together and separate from each other.
- Getting together with friend groups with similar interests such as, “guys/girls night”, cooking, video games, gardening, sports, etc.
- Spending time separate and alone. Although some people struggle with being alone I have found that couples who spend time alone appreciate even more the connectedness they find with their partner.
- Having a well balanced relationship also means dedicated, uninterrupted time with your partner. A date night once a week/month can be extremely beneficial. There are obviously barriers to this, such as children, work schedules, etc. However, finding time to do something you enjoy with the person you care about can have a positive impact on the relationship.
Remember that it is about balance. Finding the right mix of time together and apart that works for your relationship.
- Personal Self-care
I encourage every person to write out a personal self-care plan. There are a variety of these on the internet. The one I recommend and use is from the Sanctuary Model of Care. A self-care plan will not only help create more balance in your personal life but your professional life as well. They encompass creating rhythms and well balanced relationships which were mentioned in the previous paragraphs. For a more thorough, comprehensive article on self-care check out my previous article.
Edited by Jeannie Regan.
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