Comparing your relationship to a car may not be romantic, but it can help it stay on the right course. Would you expect your car to keep running without regular servicing, fuel and some tender loving care? Of course not! Whether you are enjoying that new relationship smell or it’s old, reliable and comfortable, a tune up is always going to help things run more smoothly.
Licensed clinical social worker Elizabeth Herman LCSW, MSW recommends regularly checking in with your partner whether you think there’s a problem or not because it can prevent crisis along the road.
- Make a practice of checking in with your partner to see how things are going. Talk over intimacy and expectations to foster good communications.
“This isn’t necessarily an easy thing to do, but checking in regularly doesn’t have to be intense,” Herman said. “If you make a habit of it, it becomes normal.” She recommends couples set a time for this each week, so they can review what has happened. It’s a good way to stop problems escalating. “Some people might think saying something negative is a failing, but if it’s part of your relationship tune up it just becomes part of your regular thought process,” she said.Herman says counseling can help couples learn how to do this successfully.
“Coaching on conflict resolution can help you achieve a better result because partners feel less threatened,” she added.
- Take time to discuss future goals.
New Year isn’t the only time to make resolutions. Make plans together as each season changes. Make sure you talk over big decisions, don’t just make assumptions. Don’t assume your partner is on the same page about when you might have a baby, for example. Planning ahead can take away a lot of anxiety.
- Manage any conflicts carefully. Set aside a time to talk about any concerns.
“Some people may say that fighting is just part of a relationship, but resolving issues is a good way of tuning it up,” Herman says. “If you’re not able to resolve an issue a neutral third party, like a counselor, can be helpful to teach new styles.”
- Plan fun.
In newer relationships the chances are you are always planning to do something fun on date night but over time this can peter out for those in long term relationships. “It’s so easy to get into patterns and routines you don’t always give thought to the fun things,” Herman said. “Think about the activities you used to enjoy together. If you’re not sharing fun activities it can make it harder to weather tough times.”Couples should remember to take care of themselves as individuals too.
“It’s equally important,” Herman said. “It depends on the personality of the couple of course, but having fun separately as well as together can be very important to a good relationship.”
Following the advice of your relationship GPS should help you navigate any bumps in the road, but never be afraid to ask for help along the way. You don’t have to wait until you break down!