My posting schedule has become a little erratic. After 3 months working from home at my parents house in BC, we moved back to Minnesota where I’m involved in a few research projects. I’m still finding my groove here. Reya is back at daycare. My husband and I largely work from home but I do go into the hospital on days where I have patients to enroll or meetings to attend.
I am applying for Internal Medicine residency later this year. It’s sort of a pinnacle moment of my life; something I’ve worked towards for the last few years, and I’ve battled a lot of inner demons to get to this place. The application process is extensive, and along with working and spending time with my husband and Reya, I don’t have a lot of free time at the moment. It’s something I need to prioritize over the next few months, so while I will continue to post consistently on here, the interval between posts may be a little longer.
That being said – today I want to talk about relationships and the little ways we can steadily show up to do the work of love. Here are some simple practices that grow love and connection between my husband and I during this busy season of life.
Make their happiness your priority
Every morning, I ask my husband 2 questions.
“What is one thing you could do today that would make you feel productive?”
This is usually one of his most important tasks of the day. The needle mover. Things like “Finish the brief I’m working on / this chapter / this draft / start my online course etc”
“What is one thing that could happen that would make you happy/fulfilled/joyful?”
This is distinct from our most important task of the day, though they sometimes do overlap. It is something we can do purely for our happiness and self-care. Things like taking a walk, watch a movie/show, eat your favourite meal/treat, time to read, take a nap etc
He asks me the same.
We then make it our priority to make the other person’s 2 things happen for them.
If you both allow each other to make your own 2 things happen – that is respect.
If you make it YOUR mission to make THEIR top 2 things happen – that is love.
(We initially started out with 3 things, but learned that 2 was more achievable)
Give before you ask & take
Before I ask my husband to fulfill an unmet need I have, I try to take a moment to first ask myself – if I even meet this very same need for him.
Often times, I haven’t!
So I try first to give him what I need, but in the way that he likes to receive it.
For example (because it sounds confusing):
I need him to be a better listener.
I ask myself – am I a good listener to my husband? When was the last time I truly listened to him? When was the last time we had a great conversation?Often people develop bad listening habits because they feel like they are not fully heard, so they fight for their space in conversations, or they grow apathetic and disengage.
So before I ask for this, I practice giving it. I listen to him. I hear him. I am fully present in our conversations that day.
The wonderful thing is that this simple act, often triggers a change without even having to overtly discuss it. He starts to listen to me too. He gives me what I need and I feel heard.
Now, I know what you’re thinking; “but we don’t always have the same needs!” – this is true, but if you keep digging to the root of what feels unfulfilled for you, there is often a common thread. And then, you find a way to give that to your partner, but in a way that they are most receptive to.
Have a tried and tested roadmap out of conflict
Conflict is rarely, if ever, pleasant. Handling it respectfully and using it as a tool for deeper connection takes a great deal of maturity and can add depth and dimension to your relationship.
In the heart of conflict, we go into survival mode. We want to prove our point and “win.” We want to convince, change, manipulate. We demand, criticize, blame. All these things are so damaging to a relationship and to our partner.
Take some time to study the way the two of you fight, and notice your patterns. What are the repeating dynamics?
Then, create a step by step framework that you will follow as soon as an argument gets heated. Like a map back to love.
In my next conscious marriage post, I will share with you the steps my husband and I use when we have conflict, that has worked so well for us!
Ask for feedback
Helpful and impactful questions to ask and answer periodically in your relationship:
How do you feel about our relationship right now?
Are you happy with where it’s going?
Does our “love bank” feel full or empty to you? What kind of things feel like deposits? What kind of things feel like withdrawals?
What can I do to make our relationship better?
Can you tell me some things you appreciate about the kind of partner I am, so that I can do them more?
Are there things that I do/say that damage you or our relationship?
Speak their love language every day
If you know what makes your partner feel loved, try to sprinkle little acts of love throughout your day. I remind myself, I want to love my husband the way he wants to be loved, not the way I want to be loved.
Create sacred romantic rituals
In this season of our life, it’s easy to get trapped in the grind of daily routines and the rush to bedtime. But I know that life is lived in these little moments. So we created a few little daily routines that are mundane but they are “ours” and I try to engage in them with as much presence and gratitude as I have in my heart for my husband.
It could be little things like:
🌸 Making coffee for your partner in the morning.
🌸 Cooking dinner together while listening to a podcast you both love.
🌸 Dinner by candlelight + conversation every evening.
🌸 Cuddling before bed, and/or first thing in the morning.
🌸 A foot rub while watching a show together.
🌸 Packing their lunch + a love note.
🌸 A shower together
🌸 A daily walk
🌸 Cleaning up together to music
Take some time to pick 2-3 daily rituals that you both will commit to dedicating to your relationship.
Work towards a common vision
Identify one thing the two of you both love, or both are committed to working towards. It could be a hobby, an interest, a business or even just a goal. To be honest with you – my husband and I are so different, and we don’t share a lot of common interests! The one thing we do share is our commitment to our spiritual practices, to knowing life deeply, and to our vision for the future.
Whatever it may be for you, find a way that you both can consistently engage in and work towards your common vision together, whether it’s on a day to day basis, or something you work towards in the longer term. These kind of things really help unify and connect us to our partners.
Self Reflection Prompts:
- What makes your partner truly happy?
- How can you help them get more of that?
- What makes you truly happy?
- What can your partner do to make it more accessible for you?
- What are your unmet needs in your relationship, and how do you meet that very same need in your partner?
- What is my partners love language and what are some ways I can speak it every day?
- What are some daily rituals I can dedicate to growing love and connection between us?
- What is something that connects us both in a deep and meaningful way?
- How do we work towards this together?