11 Habits to Build a Strong Emotional Connection in Your Relationship
How's Your Emotional Connection?
"Intimacy is the capacity to be rather weird with someone - and finding that that's ok with them." — Alain de Botton
Emotional intimacy is just as important as physical intimacy. While it tends to be more important for women to feel connected on an emotional level, men enjoy the connection too.
Following are 11 habits you can build to really develop your emotional connection.
Habit 1: Kiss Each Other Before Bed
This is a short and sweet habit that will mean a lot in your relationship. Kissing before bed is a nice little ritual. It’s nice to share some sort of intimacy before bed besides just rolling over.
It’s also a nice insurance that you made it known you care about your partner before sleep in case one of you don’t wake up. I'm just saying - it can happen.
Kissing is a sign of affection, and making the effort to lean over and give your partner is a kiss is adding to that sign of affection. You don’t have to make out! Just a simple and knowing kiss will do.
Habit 2: Say I Love You In A Variety Of Ways
An emotional connection is all about love, right? Some people think that you can say I love you too much (you know...where it turns into ‘loveya’). But if you say it with meaning, then you will have a hard time saying it too much to someone you love.
If you are someone who finds that the words lose value as you say them, then there are other things you can do to express how much you love your partner.
You Should Express Your Love
The fact that those three words can make us feel loved and part of a happy union means that we can't cut them out of our daily lives altogether and only say them once in a while, but we can change the way we say them.
There are ways to add some substance and some power behind our expression of love. So, if you are stuck in the "loveya" section of your relationship, here are ten ideas to help you get into the meaningful "I Love You" seats.
1. Put your partner on a pedestal
There are not many people who will not feel great when you tell them how great they are, especially when that person is your partner. In another article, I talk about stroking a males ego to attract a man, but really it is just a way to make anyone feel good about themselves and admired by the person saying it.
So, if they did something great, then tell them! If they are proud of something, tell them that you are proud of them too. Make them feel good, and you are essentially saying, "I love you!"
2. Take over one of their tasks occasionally
Your partner may have certain duties in the relationship. Washing dishes, washing the dog, cleaning the house, or whatever. When you get up and do something that they normally do, you are giving them a break from their duties, and that shows you think about them and want to take care of them.
3. Show them you care about their health
I am not trying to say tell them that they are overweight or should quit smoking or should exercise more. I'm just saying that you should pay attention to serious medical issues and let them know that you want them to be in your life for the long-term, not the short-term. When they know that you expect a long life with them, they get the message loud and clear that you love them. Just don't push the issues too much or they will feel attacked instead of loved.
4. Admit when you are wrong
This is a hard one! But, it will let them know that you are willing to give them credit where credit is due, and because it is such a hard thing to do, they will know how much you care about them to do it.
5. Compliment them in public
When you make them look good in public, they feel good about you. So, in front of your family, friends, or even strangers, make sure you give them compliments that make them look good.
6. Let them be themselves
Your partner will not likely do everything the way you do. But, even if they do, let them be themselves. If they are slow and methodical while you are fast and impulsive, you cannot make them be like you. Accept them for who they are, appreciate it, and let them know that they are perfect in your eyes. What better way to say I love you?
7. Let them know why you love them
One of the best things my husband says is, "This is why I love you!" It works two ways. First it shows me how much he appreciates me. Second it is a direct way of saying I love you, without actually saying I love you! It seems to mean more than the usual phone call ending.
So, if your partner makes their famous cake, say something like, "This is one of the many reasons I love you so much!" Trust me, they will smile.
8. Don't side with other people
I have a friend whose wife used to side with everyone but him. What do you think he heard every time she agreed with someone else? He heard, "I don't value you as much as I value this person and their opinion."
Here's the thing, you are not always going to agree. But, don't call your partner out in front of other people unless they are hurting someone else. It is a way to show them that you are willing to stand by their side and work as a team in this world, and it is a great way to say I love you.
9. Take the time to listen
You and your partner are in this together, and that means that you will need to be there to support each other. Take the time to listen to your partner and show them you care about them, their feelings, and their life. It is a great way to say I love and value the person you are.
The trick is to remove distractions. It is so easy to half-listen when the TV is on, for example. That's not really listening, and your partner deserves more.
10. Following the golden rule
Treat others as you want to be treated.
This rule applies to everyone in this world, but especially your partner. You are the one person they should be able to count on for support, love, understanding, and kindness. Treat them well.
Habit 3: Create Meaningful Words That Only You Two Understand
We all love to hear our partner say ‘I love you!’ but how about hearing our partner say ‘You are the jelly to my jam!’? Would that be as meaningful? It would be if jelly and jam were your favorite combination of tastes!
Another example may be that you love surf and turf more than any other food; therefore, your partner is your surf and turf. I know, I know, it’s corny, but it is endearing, and building this habit of using nicknames can really help to strengthen your relationship.
You two have shared many private moments together that mean something to only you two, and you have many insights about each other that other people will never ever, so use those moments and insights to create special words that you can use that nobody else in a million years would get, just like the jelly and jam.
Not only will your partner feel good about the way you acknowledge them in a cute and meaningful way, having pet names will also bond you two together even more because you have an ‘inside secret’ that no one else has with you.
So, take some time to reflect on what your partner really finds meaningful.
What do they associate with good feelings and happiness?
What makes them smile when they talk about it or get excited when they see it?
Now use that information to your advantage and really show them how much you care by making it part of how you talk to them. You will find your emotional connection will get stronger with this simple habit.
Habit 4: Make The Most Of Your Time Together
San Diego Officer's Final Act of Kindness
Today may be the last day you have with your partner.
I was just watching a video where a police officer was caught on tape buying a kid some cookies at McDonalds, and then when he left and went around the corner he was shot. His food was untouched. It can happen that fast. (Video to the right.)
We build really unhealthy habits when it comes to spending time together and keeping that emotional connection strong. For instance, we sit around watching TV while our partner sits across the couch, or we get on our computer when our partner is sitting downstairs doing nothing. These habits hold us back from our real life – the one that we desired to build and live with our partner.
Making the most of your time together encourages a healthy intimate relationship. Instead of zoning out around each other, you are fully aware of the other person and the joy (or anger or confusion or love or whatever) they bring to your life, and that is worth every second you have.
Try this: Really focus on your partner when you are together next time. Notice every movement, word, and action made by your partner and enjoy it. Make a habit out of doing this as often as you remember.
If you go to bed feeling good about your partner and the time spent together today, then you know you've done this task well.
Habit 5: Take A Relationship Workshop Once In A While
A relationship requires constant work. You already know that if you are reading this. Building new habits, perfecting them, and learning how to interact with each other as you grow into new people throughout your life is important.
Have you ever seen 19 kids and counting? It is a reality show where a couple have 19 kids (or maybe it is 20 at this point - see video to right). Anywase, from what I understand they take the time to go out and work on their marriage. Now, I realize we don’t see behind the scenes, but they are the nicest couple I have ever seen. They communicate well, they accept each other, and they get along – with 19 kids around them!
Growing and learning together in an environment dedicated to your relationship will always bring you closer. And if a couple with 19 kids can take the time to do it, we all can.
Most relationship workshops focus on improving communication, resolving issues, and becoming closer – none of this is a bad thing!
If you are having issues, and you let that area of your relationship get worse, then it’s going to continue to get worse. It can’t get better until you make it better and that requires action.
Habit 6: Do Nice Things For Your Partner
Every time I watch Dr. Phil and he says, “I wake up and think about what I can do to make my wife happier,” I smile. It is the sweetest and most profound thing you can do to stay emotionally connected to your partner.
I’m willing to bet you don’t often do this. That’s because most of us wake up and think, ‘What do I need to do today?’ or ‘Why did I do that yesterday?’ or some other statement that includes the word ‘I’.
It takes practice to shift your focus off yourself and include your partner into the equation, but once you start doing it, you will find that your partner will become an important aspect of your day’s to-do list.
You don’t have to do something big. You can just give your partner a hug. You can support him or her when they need it. You can CHOOSE to make your partner a priority for the day.
There are millions of things you can do. The point is to be conscious of your partner and their needs from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep. Your relationship will always benefit from this.
Habit 7: Love Yourself
Want to stay in love with your partner? Love yourself first.
If you don’t love yourself then how can you expect your partner to love you?
Furthermore, your ideal partner is going to react to your ideal traits. For example, if you talk yourself up all the time, then your partner is going to think more of you.
Think of it this way: You know that person who has more than enough self love for themselves? They talk about themselves in a positive manner, they carry themselves in a positive manner, and they treat themselves as good as they can. And, you probably like them very much no matter what they look like on the outside. But, if they were to continuously talk bad about themselves, act sad, and treat themselves poorly, your view of them would probably go down.
You teach people how you want them to treat you, and if you happy with yourself or in love with yourself, then you are teaching your partner to treat you in a manner less than worthy of what you are.
Habit 8: Do Not Support Their Destructive Habits - But Do Support Your Love For Them
I see many couples who support each other’s bad habits simply because they don’t want to make their partner upset or get disconnected from them. I get that, but in reality you are supporting their ill-health, unhappiness, and shorter life span.
Connecting emotionally means being supportive, but it also means showing how much you care about the other person. If they have a bad habit such as smoking, drinking, gambling, overeating, or talking poorly about themselves, you need to recognize that fact and try to support them towards a healthier lifestyle.
I fully believe my dad has not quit smoking because my mom supports his habit. Even though she doesn’t smoke, she will say, “Your dad needs his cigarette,” which confirms to him that he really does need it. As a former smoker, I am acutely aware that he does not need that cigarette, but because my mom is his closest emotional ally, he will not listen to anyone but her.
It is your choice, but I would suggest that you don’t love your partner to death. There are times when you have to be emotionally supportive in other ways.
Habit 9: Text To Remind Your Partner You Love Them...But Not Too Much
Texting can keep you connected when you are apart, and according to Michael Fiore, it can bring the romance back into your relationship if used properly. He has taught thousands of people how to use simple text messages, in his text the romance back book, to put a flame under the relationship no matter how bad or good the relationship is going.
Sounds nice, and I agree that texting can be a reminder of your relationship, and act as something that keeps you in touch when you just can’t talk.
I can tell you that in my own relationship, my man wakes up before I do and leaves the house before we can say good-bye. Because he is at work in close proximity to other people, he doesn’t call in the morning; instead, he texts.
He always sends a message in the morning along these lines: Good morning baby! I hope you have a great day today. I love you! He also inserts the kissy face and smiley face...and well, he likes to insert a lot of faces – but the point is I look forward to that text as a reminder that he loves me and is thinking about me, and it is a nice habit to have in our relationship.
A study conducted by Brigham Young University in Utah, suggested that men find too much texting from their women disturbing and can withdraw from the relationship a little. I’m not sure how much I buy into this when your relationship is a loving relationship that is strong and committed, but I do know that part of the findings from the study were reflected in my relationship.
The study found that women text more than their partners during times that they want a connection to their partners; and I can say that I do that at about a 5 to 1 ratio with my husband. However, he has never complained about yet, and he has his share of rapid fire texting moments too.
Use text wisely and don’t text too much or too little. Just get into the habit of using text to remind your partner that you love them and are thinking about them and, believe me, this will have a huge positive impact on your emotional connection.
This is often overlooked as something that maintains connection, but I can tell you that I’ve seen firsthand how much eating together can bring a couple (and a family) together.
Eating together promotes communication, which allows you to bond and connect. It forces you to talk about your day, share concerns you have, and enjoy an activity together.
Think of it this way, if you can’t get out of the house to enjoy experiences together often, then eating together is pretty much your number one way to experience a positive and fun experience together.
Food is comforting; food promotes giddiness when it is really good; food makes you feel good; and, all of those things are good emotions to have around your partner when you want to connect emotionally.
Habit 11: Make Meals Something Special
Meals made with love taste better. Have you noticed that? It is the truth.
If you have ever watched Dr. Masaru Emoto's water experiments, then you should believe that water takes on emotions; since food is made up of water, you better believe that foods take on those same emotions.
If you don’t believe this, just do it anyways. Always make food with love and positive emotions so that when you sit down with your partner, you feel love and positive emotions. Even if you don’t believe that the food will put positive emotions inside of you, you will still be in a state of mind that promotes love and positivity with your partner, and that is a good – no, GREAT thing!
One thing my husband and I do is eat things we love with a mix of new things. For instance, we are huge fans of Indian food, so we often make new recipes that excite us as we are making them. That excitement always transfers over to the way we view each other at that moment – it NEVER fails. So, try new recipes that excite you and increase your emotional connection during the process.