How to give your relationship a fresh start this fall

How to give your relationship a fresh start this fall

Original Champagne Cocktail
Photography by Matthew Kimura
Image by: Original Champagne Cocktail <br /> Photography by Matthew Kimura Author: Canadian Living


How to give your relationship a fresh start this fall

With the arrival of changing colours, cooler temperatures and the start of a new school year, fall has traditionally been a time associated with new beginnings. If you feel as though your relationship is in need of a kick-start, autumn is the perfect time to focus on giving it a makeover.

We turned to Shelley Gordon, a relationship therapist in private practice in Victoria, B.C., for some tips on how to improve your relationship and give it post-summer boost.

1. Focus on the positive
Daily stressors can make it easy to forget about how much you and your partner love one another. At the start of a relationship, intense positive chemistry takes precedence over everything else. However, as the intense romantic stage winds down and everyday stressors are introduced, small issues that once seemed invisible can become larger problems.

When this happens, it can be easy to focus only on what's wrong in your relationship.

However, this is a time when couples should nurture the connection that they have and try to focus on the positive, Gordon advises. "It's important you nurture the positive aspects of the relationship and each other," she says.

Although it may be tempting to spend your quality time together discussing your relationship, Gordon advises against it. "It's actually more beneficial to go out and do things with each other that are fun," she says. By making time to do the things you both enjoy, you and your partner will stay connected, and this in turn can make it easier to overcome issues together.

2. Do something new and exciting
It's easy to get stuck in a rut when you've been together for a while. One of the best ways to shake things up, says Gordon, is to do something that breaks the monotony or your established pattern. This could be anything from trying a new activity together to planning a surprise for the other person.

"In a relationship surprises are so important," Gordon notes. If time and budget allow, she suggests going away somewhere together. If you're able to get away for a week, a beach vacation can do wonders to refresh your relationship. Short on time? Simply spending the night at a hotel while the kids are with the in-laws can go a long way toward improving your bond.

Putting yourself in a new environment can provide you with the opportunity to re-establish some of the positive chemistry that brought you together in the first place, explains Gordon.

Page 1 of 2 -- Discover three more great ways to refresh your relationship this fall on page 2.
3. Communicate with your partner
One of the best ways to improve your relationship this fall is to take a look at how you communicate. Both individuals need to listen actively and participate with empathy and compassion, says Gordon.

"It's important to hear your partner through the lens of their own experiences," she explains. "You need to cross over the bridge into your partner's world so that you can really understand their needs and what they are asking for."

Actively listening to your partner and validating his or her perspective and needs can lead to positive growth in the relationship.

4. Learn your partner's love language
You may think you know exactly what your partner needs, but your assumptions might not be hitting the mark. This can lead to frustration for both parties, says Gordon.

Everyone is wired differently, which is why it's so important to take the time to find out what your partner needs in terms of love and affection. Everyone experiences feeling loved in different ways, explains Gordon, whether that's through verbal affirmations, touch, spending quality time together, gifts or acts of service. Having a conversation with your partner about what he or she needs and then doing these things has a big impact.

"It can completely shift the relationship in a positive direction," says Gordon.

5. Establish rituals throughout the day where you can connect
There are several times throughout the day where you come together and separate as a couple: waking up, going off to work, coming home from work and going to bed. In romance, these are often tender and loving times, says Gordon, who believes in what she calls the "16 minutes to a greater life" theory. If you maximize these small daily rituals through touch and affirmations it can build your connection as a couple. Make a point to kiss your partner goodbye when he leaves for work, hug him before bed or have a glass of wine together when you both get home after a long day.

Gordon suggests creating and focusing on "protective time" together as a couple. This could mean making a pact to have a technology-free dinner table or bedroom or making sure you have time together without any intrusions. When it comes to revitalizing your relationship, there's no right or wrong. It's all about finding out what works for you as a couple and being open to talking about it.

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How to give your relationship a fresh start this fall