Many couples celebrate Valentine’s Day, but what about the other 364 days of the year? How can couples keep the relationship romance going all year round?
“A relationship cannot be like the ‘Elf on the Shelf’,” Julie Bulitt says. “You can’t just bring it out on Valentine’s Day, birthdays or anniversaries and forget about it during the rest of the year. Your relationship needs to be front and center every day.”
“People ask me all the time,” David Bulitt says, “‘what is the biggest reason that couples break up?’ Most think it is due to financial reasons, maybe problems with kids or infidelity. In my experience, it's ‘none of the above.’ What happens to couples is that they wake up and go about their days — be it jobs, kids, other responsibilities— then they eat and go to sleep. Day in and day out. Wash, rinse, repeat. Before you know it the couple doesn't know each other very well and have little in common. I call it ‘malaise creep’.”
The Bulitts say the key to keeping a relationship alive and healthy is to apply what they call “The Three C’s”— communication, connection, and consistency. Ask yourself each day: Did I communicate with my partner? Did I connect with my partner? Am I doing that consistently?
“A relationship takes work,” Julie says. “If you don’t put in the work, it's going to fail.”
“You should think about your relationship like you do your job or your business — set goals, check in on them, and work toward reaching them,” David says. “All year long.
Julie and David Bulitt, a therapist and family lawyer respectively, are also couples coaches, speakers, and the authors of the award-winning book, “The Five Core Conversations for Couples.” Their second book is due to be published in the fall of 2023. They can be reached at www.thebulitts.com.
Here are some guideposts to help couples navigate tough conversations, taken straight from the Bulitts' book:
Timing is key. Pick a time when your partner is available and likely to be attentive.
It's not what you say, it's how you say it. Your tone and how you choose your words are often as important as what you're trying to communicate.
Show empathy. Let your partner know they are heard.
Here are a few kick-starters to get you talking:
- What aspect of your relationship needs more attention?
- When was the last time you got angry with your partner? What did you do about it?
- Do you feel appreciated in your relationship? Do you express your appreciation for your partner? How so?
And remember, you are on the same team!