How does a Marriage Counselor end up on TV anyway? I'm not quite sure, but I had fun doing it and hope it helps someone.The story aired on 8/23/2017 and 8/27/2017 during the evening broadcasts in Columbus, Ohio and surrounding markets. Click Here to watch the story.
Sometimes after couples have been together for a long time they feel that the relationship gets stale. Date night (if you have it) is predictable and mundane. You have run out of things to talk about. You are existing but have yet to live that life you thought you would when you said "I do". Marriage does not have to be boring. It can be the best thing you have going; if you are willing to put some work into it.
Clarify Your Vision
Many of us had a clear vision of what we thought marriage would be. We daydreamed about travel, romantic nights, beautiful homes, the works. As we mature we realize that those dreams got pushed back by mortgages, growing careers, or children. We stopped allowing ourselves to live in what could be and traded for right now. Challenge yourselves to go back to your vision for what your marriage should be. Talk about the vision, write it down, put it somewhere you have to look at it every day. The clearer the vision the more likely you are to work toward it.
Shut The World Out
I cringe when I see a couple sitting across the table from one another at a restaurants deeply engaged in their phones. We live in a society where our devices get more attention than our spouses. If electronics are not screaming for our attention, our children, or careers are. In order for a relationship to work it has to receive some uninterrupted attention. On a regular basis make a point to turn everything off and tune everything else out that does not feed your connection. You both deserve one another's undivided attention. If we give all of our time, energy, and resources to everything else in life you may find that you may notice one day that are sleeping next to a complete stranger.
Schedule An Appointment Everyday
Effort and attention are key to making a relationship work long term. Some people argue that scheduling time together (particularly for intimacy) makes the event boring and routine. I challenge the couples I see in my counseling office to schedule special time together. Drs. John and Julie Gottman (the Gurus of couples' therapy) assert that 15-minute daily check ins are extremely important for repairing damaged relationships or maintaining great ones. They teach us that the "masters" of relationships understand the need to touch base with their partner daily. Most of us live by our calendars but leave connection to chance. We put effort in to this relationship in the beginning to ensure its success, why not put effort in to maintain its survival? Being intentional is imperative to having satisfying relationships.
Learn Something New
Even partners who have been married decades can learn something new about their spouses. At some point along the journey of a long-term relationship we start to believe that there is nothing more to glean from this union. Our knowledge of one another becomes stale and outdated. Just as you have changed since the beginning of your relationship, so has your partner. Take time out to learn likes and dislikes, observe the way they move, update your knowledge of their world. There is always something to learn about the complex human you chose to do life with. We are fully alive when we are growing, so take notice of the ways your partner has grown since you met.
In life we are constantly moving and doing. With all of the things on our "to-do" lists we struggle to want to add enhancing our relationship to that list; until the neglect is apparent. We prioritize so many things above our marriage and then panic when it seems as though it is falling apart. Most couples are so excited about the wedding and honeymoon that they forget to plan a marriage. The wedding is a beginning to a (hopefully) long, happy life together. Happy marriages are amazing investments; but they require your determination, planning, and prioritizing. Your marriage can be amazing; if you are willing to make the effort.
The most romantic holiday of the year is upon us. Some are annoyed with Valentine's Day because our culture is more about giving someone things than sharing love and affection. This does not have to be the case for you and your love. We can take back the romance of February 14th by changing the narrative. Here are some unorthodox ways to show your love this holiday.
Make A Declaration
Pick your medium. You can use chalk in your lover's driveway, beautiful penmanship in a real (envelope and stamp) letter, or a rose petal message at the office. Any way you do it make sure your message is sincere. Some may adore the message shared only between the two of you. Others may enjoy having the message read by everyone. The key is knowing your partner and making sure they are able to appreciate your declaration.
Get In Your Time Machine
Do you remember where you first met? Where you said "I love you"? Your first kiss? Recreating your firsts is one of the best ways to rekindle a spark in your relationship. If you have been a couple a long time you will have many memories to recreate. Tell your love how important they are to you be bringing back the moments that brought you together.
Learn A New Skill
Doing something new for your partner may show them you are willing to put the effort into making them happy. You can learn to dance, paint, or cook. The result is not as important as showing your partner that you are willing to do something new to keep the relationship exciting. This could be even more fun if you learn something new together.
Check Their Bucket List
Romance is not flowers, candy, cards, or balloons. It is paying attention to your partner and making their want a reality. Listen to your partner's dreams and see if there is one you can make come true. Asking your partner open-ended questions may reveal dreams never realized. Columbus is one of the best cities for hidden adventures. The key is to listen without preparing to respond and hear what their aspirations are.
Go Off Of The Grid
Find a quiet place for the two of you where electronics are not allowed. Turn off your phone, tablet, etc. You can retreat to a cabin in the woods or not leave your own bedroom. Give 24 hours of your undivided attention. Blocking out all other distractions and tuning into one another may completely revitalize your relationship.
This holiday does not have to be boring and predictable, laced with disappointment, anxiety, and regret. Many of the couples that come in for marriage or relationship counseling are struggling to find ways to show that they care. The best gifts are those of experiences. Columbus has endless possibilities. Let this holiday be the one you both will remember for years to come. Give your love a memory for Valentine's Day. Your relationship is worth the effort.
Many times couples find it difficult to be intimate in their relationship. Between work, kids, family, and other activities, there is not much time energy left for love. Here are 3 things you can do today to rekindle the spark you are missing.
Touch Her Heart- That is right, we are talking about romance. You MUST continue to pursue your partner. This means doing the things you did when the relationship was still new. Do you still tell your love that certain love songs remind you of her? Do you still bring home little gifts or cards to let her know you are thinking of her. I am sure over time you have learned a thing or two that makes her heart melt. This is your way back to her heart. If you have forgotten, this is the time to relearn. If you ask earnestly her to share her heart, she is more likely to share her body.
Touch Her Mind- When is the last time you asked her opinion or had an adult discussion? Are your conversations centered around work, kids or complaints? These types of conversations are mood-killers. Try having a conversation about her dreams. What about her fears? Do you know what makes her "tick"? The answers may surprise you and will build toward the emotional intimacy she craves. A woman who feels emotionally intimate is far more likely to be physically intimate.
Touch Her To-Do List- In many cases women who feel overwhelmed by the demands of life experience a drastic reduction in sexual arousal. If her plate is full with life, she will struggle to find the energy to be the goddess you want in the bedroom. Do you and her a favor; help her with her to-do list. This tells her that she is not alone and that the two of you are a team. Many women refuse sex because they do not feel supported in other aspects of life. This does not mean that you vacuum once and hop in the sack. This is a change in her perception of the relationship over time. Sometimes it takes a whole season before a group of players become a team.
Touch His Ego- In my experience working with couples who are recovering from affairs I found many men who go outside of their relationship for the same reason. It is usually not about their partner or even sex really. It is about the ego boost in being desired by someone else. Many men cheat because they find someone who respects them and esteems them. Do you esteem your husband? If not, the issues are deeper than can be addressed in this blog; but if so, tell him! This ego boost will do wonders for his sex drive and being available to you. Men who feel respected by their partners are more open to doing what it takes to keep the love of their life happy.
Touch His Playful Spirit- Being in love is supposed to be fun. A key indicator for the health of a relationship is how well the couple plays together. Can you truly enjoy one another's company? A friendly game of Monopoly or chess may remind you why you wanted to spend all of your time together in the first place. Playing basketball or going to an arcade may rekindle the enjoyment you found in the beginning of your relationship. Find time to be carefree and let him see the girl he married fell in love with is still in there somewhere.
Touch His Body- This post would not be complete without suggesting an actual, physical touch. Skin-to-skin contact does wonders for intimacy of all kinds. Non-sexual touch is beneficial for both partners as it is the link to the friendship in the relationship. If done right it will release the Oxytocin in the brain that is used for bonding. Knowing what kind of touch he likes is crucial. When was the last time you asked him?
Intimacy is about allowing being open to allowing another person to see the real you and feeling safe enough to trust them with who you really are. It takes many forms; physical, emotional, spiritual etc. Many times couples come to counseling because their relationship is starving for attention. These suggestions may not help all couples, but all relationships need attention. What you invest your time, energy, and resources in will thrive; what you neglect will perish. What are you investing in?
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Let's be honest, maintaining a relationship's fire over the years is difficult. The same dinner and a movie date night ritual becomes stale and uninviting. Here are some ideas to shake things up a bit. Here's to putting the spark back into date night. (I am not in any way affiliated with any places listed here and assume no liability for your safety while indulging in these activities.) Happy dating!
Ride the Cbus- Columbus has a smaller COTA bus that runs every 15 minutes (or so) in the Downtown/Short North area. It has stops located near many of the places mentioned in this blog and best of all it's FREE. Ride all day if you would like discovering new things to see and do in or near Downtown. While riding hop off and enjoy one (or several) of the many things to do downtown.
Attend a High School Sporting Event- Why not cheer on your old Alma Mater or pick a new one? Bonus points for going out on a chilly night and cuddling up next to each other on the bleachers. If you are both the competitive type, perhaps picking opposing teams would start some friendly competition.
Food Truck Court- This is a great way to grab lunch and not have to agree on where to eat. Sometimes we spend more time trying to figure out where we should eat than actually enjoying a meal together. This is a great solution. From now until October 27th from 11am- 2pm you can pick from a rotating smorgasbord of food trucks at the Columbus Commons. While you are there you can enjoy the NEOs Electric Playground or play of chess on the giant chessboard. Like the Columbus Commons? They also have many other free activities:
"Porch" Swinging- The Scioto Mile (not to far from the fountains) has porch swings that over look the river and sit facing COSI. Grab your sweetie and enjoy the air day or night.
Biking...through Easton- Did you know Easton has bicycles for free? They offer bicycles (and other fun modes of transportation). Of course you can rent bicycles from many locations around the downtown area as well but a cost involved for those rentals.
Food Tasting- One of the favorite places to sample different foods is at your local Whole Foods Market. You can request free samples any day, but Saturday afternoons they have tasting events where the tasty morsels are just there for the taking. They also have a wine and food tasting on Friday evening for $5 each.
Scioto Audubon- The old impound lot has been transformed to a beautiful park in the middle of the city. Play sand volleyball, rock climb, or race through the obstacle course. Not feeling so adventurous, no worries, the park also offers bird watching, trails, and a tower. You could climb a few stories and have a beautiful 360 degrees view including the downtown skyline.
Tandem Reading- The Columbus Metropolitan Libraries have been getting a facelift. The Main Library is all new and opened a few weeks ago. The space is open and airy, it offers a coffee shop and many places to lounge. This is perfect for a couple of introverts.
Fun Festivals- Fall is a great time to walk hand-in-hand through a festival. Central Ohio has many to offer for many cultures and tastes. Although this is not an exhaustive list, it will get you started.
Explore a Little City in the Big City- Take the time to enjoy the smaller communities Columbus has to offer. Grandview is a personal favorite, as well as German Village, OSU Campus, and Bexley.
Break a Sweat- Are you and your love looking for some friendly competition? Try Lazer Tag, Paintball, or bouncing around on trampolines at SkyZone. This is not just child's play. The exercise will aid in releasing Endorphins. Endorphins will then stimulate the whole body....get my drift.
Groupons and Living Social- Have you considered all of the hidden local gems in these discount sites? Many restaurants and activities are available for deep discounts in the local area. Superchef's is a favorite, just make sure you bring an empty tummy because their portions are HUGE! The site offers all things fun and entertaining while not breaking the bank.
Hocking Hills- Hiking in Hocking Hills is a must if you are a couple that enjoys nature. The landscape is beautiful and very romantic. If you want to splurge you can usually find a great last minute deal for a romantic cabin with its own hot tub.
The idea is to find a way to make a positive memory with date night. This is a time for you and your partner to put down all of the other roles we have (parents, employees, community member) and enjoy the life you are building together. Regular date nights can invigorate a relationship and strengthen the connection between the two of you.
What are some of your favorite date night ideas? I may just add your idea to a future blog post or to a page I am working on for the website..
Disclosure:I am not in any way affiliated with any places listed here and assume no liability for your safety while indulging in these activities.