Use Habits to Revive Your Love
By developing or strengthening some of the relationship habits that came so naturally years ago, you can reignite old feelings and build a healthier, happier, sexier, and more mindful relationship with your partner.
Even if things have grown difficult between you, and there are challenging issues to deal with, it’s possible to learn how to have a healthy relationship. Just adopting a few new positive behaviors or dropping some negative habits can change
the entire tenor of your relationship. Because you are now paying attention with intention to your partner and the quality of your connection, you will see a positive shift in the way you interact with one another.
These habits will help you be more present with one another, communicate better, avoid divisive arguments, and understand and respond to one another’s needs in a more loving, empathic, and conscious way.
We know the idea of “developing habits” to improve your relationship might not seem sexy or appealing. Most of us think of hard work when we think about adopting new habits and dropping bad ones. We’ve all been through the struggles of trying to lose weight, start an exercise routine, or declutter our homes—only to give up too soon and feel like failures.
However, there are three reasons why developing mindful relationship habits or simply knowing how to build a healthy relationship can be a positive and successful experience for you and your partner.
First, unlike with other habits that can take weeks or months to see results, most of these mindful relationship habits will improve your connection and closeness right away. Even when you create a very small, positive change in your behavior, you will see immediate results with your partner. A little attention, love, kindness, respect, tenderness, compassion, and thoughtfulness go a long way.
Second, we teach you how to develop new habits and release bad ones in a way that isn’t overwhelming or difficult. Steve and Barrie are habit creation authors and experts, and they provide a template for developing habits in a way that ensures they stick for the long term. You won’t have to deal with the feelings of regret and failure that come with giving up too soon. We teach you how to start small and build on your habits to ensure success.
Finally, we firmly believe that your intimate relationship is the most important relationship in your life—the centerpiece of your family life, around which all other people and life endeavors revolve. A mindful, evolved relationship translates to a happy, healthy life. Knowing this, you should feel highly motivated to take care of your relationship. This motivation will keep you energized as you work on embracing new behaviors with your partner.
Healthy Relationship Habit #1: Embrace Your Love Languages
It’s natural to assume that what makes you feel loved and happy is what will make your partner feel loved and happy. But the truth is, if you are making a special effort to express your love in ways that feel good for you, you may be missing the mark with your partner.
Do you really know what makes your partner feel loved, cherished, and happy in your relationship? If you haven’t asked directly (or been told directly), your genuine efforts in building a healthy relationship might not be having the desired effect.
One of the most fundamental aspects of a mindful, intimate connection with one another is expressing and offering what author and relationship expert Dr. Gary Chapman calls your “love languages.”
You and your partner should be aware of your own love languages, and you should be willing to show love in the way your partner receives it. Without this understanding, you might end up feeling resentful that your needs aren’t being met or frustrated that your loving efforts with your partner are unappreciated.
In his bestselling book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, Gary Chapman outlines five ways that people express and experience love. Over his 30 plus years of counseling couples, Dr. Chapman has noticed specific patterns in the way partners communicate—and it turns out that most of us express and interpret love in the same five ways according to his observations.
+ words of affirmation
+ quality time
+ gift giving
+ acts of service
+ physical touch
Chapman asserts that each of us has a primary and secondary love language that is revealed in the way we show love to others. By offering our own love language to our partner, we are actually revealing our deepest needs within the relationship—but not necessarily our partner’s.
Observe how your partner shows love to you, and analyze what he or she complains about within the relationship, and you will better understand what your partner needs from you.
If your partner is especially affectionate with you, it reveals that he or she craves physical affection from you. Or if she complains about how bored and lonely she feels, your partner might need more quality time with you.
Since we all don’t have the same love languages as our partners, we can easily misinterpret or neglect to understand how to give our partners what they most need. Asking your partner directly what he or she most wants and needs to feel loved and cherished is the best way to be clear. By asking and then offering words and actions to support your partner’s love languages, you tear down many of the barriers that undermine the closeness you both want to share.
Let’s review each one of these five love languages and what they mean:
1. Words of affirmation
According to Dr. Chapman, one way to express love emotionally is to use words that affirm, validate, and build up your partner. Verbal compliments, or words of appreciation, are extremely powerful communicators of your love.
They should be expressed in simple, straightforward statements of affirmation, like:
+ You look so beautiful tonight.
+ I’m always so happy to see you when you come home.
+ I am amazed by your integrity.
+ You are the most important person in the world to me.
One of the best ways you can offer words of affirmation is by expressing your respect and admiration for your partner. It shows how much you love the unique individual that your partner is. This, too, is one of the primary keys to a healthy relationship.
Positive, loving words hold real value for those who prioritize this love language. So remember that negative or insulting comments cut deep—and won’t be easily forgotten.
2. Quality time
This love language is all about giving your partner your undivided attention, which makes him or her feel loved and comforted. But sitting together watching television or surfing the net doesn’t count as quality time.
Says Dr. Chapman, “What I mean is sitting on the couch with the TV off, looking at each other and talking, devices put away, giving each other your undivided attention. It means taking a walk, just the two of you, or going out to eat and looking at each other and talking.”
We are all pulled in different directions by competing forces and responsibilities, and our time is so valuable. Be sure you prioritize your quality-time-loving spouse in your busy life by setting apart some daily hours just for him or her.
3. Gift giving
For some people, receiving gifts, visible symbols of love, makes them feel deeply appreciated and cherished.
A physical gift is something you can hold in your hand. It represents that your partner was thinking of you and made an effort for you. The gift itself is a symbol of that thought, but it doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate.
What is most important is the thought behind the gift and the feelings of love it represents.
4. Acts of service
With this love language, you do things you know your partner would like you to do; you seek to please him or her through serving.
Actions like doing your partner’s laundry, setting the table, getting the tires rotated, cleaning the house, and running errands are all acts of service that show you care for your partner.
These actions require thought, planning, time, effort, and energy. If done with a generous spirit, they are true expressions of love.
This particular love language also requires a willingness to overcome stereotypes so you can express your feelings more effectively through acts of service. There is no reason a man can’t prepare a meal or a woman can’t mow the grass. If your spouse’s love language is acts of service, then remember, what you do for him or her says “I love you” louder than words.
5. Physical touch
If this is your love language, nothing feels more loving and affirming than your partner’s touch.
These expressions through touch aren’t just meant for the bedroom—nonsexual physical connections, like handholding, kissing, or cuddling are a big part of this love language.
Someone whose love language is physical touch will feel empty and disconnected without enough touching. Touch makes them feel secure in the love of their partner.
If you didn’t grow up in an affectionate family, you may find it difficult to express your love this way. But if this is your partner’s love language, you will need to learn exactly the kind of touch he or she desires and offer it more often.
Once you and your partner are aware of each other’s love languages, your goal is to offer your partner more of what he or she needs to feel adored and cherished, which makes for a good relationship. You may need to develop some new habits during your day to offer your partner what he or she needs.
One thing to remember—because you or your partner favor a particular love language, you shouldn’t stop expressing the other love languages. According to Chapman, even though we tend to favor one language more than the others, we still enjoy expressions of the other languages as well.