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Couple's Net

By Chandrama Anderson

E-mail Chandrama Anderson

About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and have lived in and around Palo Alto since 1969. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in Silicon Valley for 15 years before becoming a therapist. My background i...  (More)

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Tips, Experiments, etc.

Uploaded: Nov 7, 2013
If you're like me, and most people, your first answer to what is missing in your relationship is to look at what your partner is or isn't doing. And it's certainly important to ask for change from your spouse for the health of your marriage; please ask kindly.

Now ask yourself the harder question, maybe even in front of the mirror: What's missing in our relationship that I can do something about? It's vulnerable to look at ourselves and our behavior that may not be working very well at home.

Here are a few answers I have heard often:
When I'm upset with my husband/wife I show love to my children instead. It's easier. They give me uncomplicated love.
I work until 9 or 10 PM. I'm too tired to talk to my wife/husband then. I'm not very good at conversations, so this is a good way to avoid them.
We just go in separate rooms and do our own thing. I miss him, but I don't know what to do to change this now; it's been going on so long.
Our lives are really busy and stressful. We drink really good wine. I wonder if I drink too much?
She goes to put the kids to bed and falls asleep in there. Then on the weekends, I go in to the office.
She gets upset, so I tell her how to fix it. Then she gets upset with me. I was just trying to help.
I don't actually listen to what s/he is saying.
I start arguments when what I really want is to be close again.
We haven't had sex in weeks (months). I don't know why.

Experiment with changing one behavior that is related to what you discover. Please don't try to fix everything at once. Try it for a while before you begin to evaluate if it's working. Either of you may be tired or entrenched in old habits when you begin an experiment. You might even want to be explicit and tell him/her that you will be trying this experiment.

Here are few all-purpose experiments:
Greet him or her at the door at the end of the day, make eye contact,
hug and kiss.
Go to bed at the same time three nights a week (if one of you goes to
sleep earlier, the other can get back up for a while).
Turn off all devices at 8PM and start a conversation (make eye
contact).
Tell him/her two things you appreciate about him or her as a person.
Plan and execute a date night.
Leave a love note where s/he'll be surprised by it.
Give an inexpensive gift for no reason.
Do an act of service such as a chore, run an errand, wash his or her
car, clean up a pile in the house.
Bring him or her coffee in bed.

Your partner will resonate with certain of these experiments more than others. Notice which of these suggestions you think s/he would like a lot, and which you would like. The goal is to do the things s/he would enjoy receiving. And human nature is such that our tendency is to do the things we would prefer to receive!

I would love to hear what your experiments are and how they go.

Comments

Posted by Jessica T, a resident of another community,
on Nov 8, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Great tips!


Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 9, 2013 at 9:27 am

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Thanks Jessica. Do you have a tip to add?


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