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Relationship Strengthening Exercises: Secrets For Long Lasting Relationships

communication relationships Jul 23, 2022



New Research on Relationship Strengthening Exercises

If you're curious about strengthening your relationship or making it long-lasting, your secret ingredient is going to be one very simple and quite annoying method.

You're probably going to be rolling your eyes because we've all heard about how impactful this topic is to our well-being, but recent research is pointing towards the idea that it is also a relationship-oriented emotion designed to build connection and foster resilience, and there's research to back this up!



The #1 Couples Strengthening Exercise: Gratitude

A study of couples found that individuals who took time to express gratitude for their partner not only felt more positive toward the other person but also felt more comfortable expressing concerns about their relationship. It seems that gratitude and its regular expression to someone we care about is a way to change your attitude, and feelings of connection.

That's why I recommend to most couples coming into my private practice to get into the habit of using a weekly check-in. I created the Check-In Check List for this reason

If you have taken the My People Patterns Conflict Style Quiz and are concerned you're a Disdainer or A Criticizer then gratitude is the solution you need. This might seem hard, obviously if you're having a lot of negative feelings towards your partner, but when you start trying to find the positive in your relationship, it's sometimes a way to shift your entire mindset. Try it.

 What research is there on gratitude and relationship strength or relationship satisfaction?

Gratitude has been extensively studied in the field of positive psychology and its impact on various aspects of life, including relationships. Numerous studies have found a strong correlation between gratitude and relationship satisfaction.

One study conducted by Algoe and Haidt (2009) found that individuals who expressed gratitude towards their partners felt more satisfied in their relationships and reported higher levels of relationship quality. The researchers concluded that gratitude serves as a powerful tool to enhance relationship satisfaction by fostering positive emotions and increasing feelings of connection and closeness.

Another study by Lambert and Fincham (2011) explored the role of gratitude in long-term relationships. The findings revealed that individuals who regularly expressed gratitude towards their partners experienced higher levels of relationship commitment and were more likely to stay together. Gratitude was found to be a significant predictor of relationship stability and longevity.

Furthermore, a study by Gordon, Impett, Kogan, Oveis, and Keltner (2012) focused on the effects of gratitude on relationship maintenance. The researchers discovered that individuals who expressed gratitude towards their partners were more likely to engage in relationship-maintenance behaviors, such as forgiveness, positive communication, and support. These behaviors, in turn, contributed to a healthier and more satisfying relationship dynamic.

In addition to these studies, research has also shown that expressing gratitude can decrease negative emotions, such as resentment and contempt, while increasing positive emotions, such as love and appreciation. This shift in emotional dynamics can greatly contribute to a relationship's overall health and longevity.


Are there any unique activities that can help improve relationships?

Absolutely! There are plenty of unique activities that can help improve relationships and strengthen the connection between individuals. Here are a few ideas to consider:

1. Adventure dates: Instead of sticking to the usual dinner and a movie, try planning an adventure date. Go hiking, explore a new city, or try an adrenaline-pumping activity like rock climbing or zip-lining. These shared experiences outside of your comfort zone can create lasting memories and build trust. There's research somewhere (I'm so sorry I don't know where this came from) about men connecting better when they are not looking directly at someone else -any activity in which you do something side to side is going to be good if you are dating a dude, so think about bike rides, kayaking, hiking, If you're not the outdoorsy physical types, what about art projects, games, or creative ideas? These can really increase intimacy and generate deep conversation.

2. Cooking together: Cooking is not only a practical skill, but it can also be a fun and intimate activity for couples. Plan a night to cook a new recipe together, experiment with different flavors, and enjoy the process of creating a delicious meal as a team. This can encourage communication, collaboration, and a sense of accomplishment. Pick places you want to go to and put those places in a hat - the day before you have your cooking date night, pull one of the places out and let that inform your theme for cooking together.

3. Volunteer work: Giving back to the community is a wonderful way to strengthen your bond. Find a cause that resonates with both of you and volunteer together. Whether it's helping at a local shelter, participating in a charity event, or organizing a donation drive, working towards a common goal can deepen your connection and create a sense of purpose. This is a tough one given time constraints in the world, but a couple's purpose cannot be 'to stay together', a couples purpose has to be something bigger than that - you need a mission statement, and volunteer work could be a great guiding principle.

4. Couples' retreats or workshops: Consider attending a couples' retreat or workshop focused on relationship building. These immersive experiences provide a safe and supportive environment to explore various aspects of your relationship, learn new tools and techniques, and gain insights from experts. It can be a transformative experience that helps you grow together. Take our online Couples Conflict Course together- even if you're not having a lot of conflict, you will absolutely learn something. Plus, there are three exercises in it that will definitely stimulate connection and understanding.

5. Couples Questions Decks - there are lots of different types of Couples Questions that are a series of prompts that force you to practice your listening skills, generate awareness and acceptance, and talk about any problems that haven't been discussed. These can be a truly bonding experience - but it's not advised if you're in a period of fighting a lot.


How can we better show affection towards one another?

It's easy to overlook the importance of showing affection towards our loved ones. However, nurturing our relationships by expressing affection is a vital component of building stronger bonds and fostering happiness. Knowing how each of you experience love and connection is important so it might be smart to start of by understanding each of your Love Languages.

1. Practice Active Listening:

One of the most powerful ways to show affection is by actively listening to your partner or loved ones. Give them your undivided attention, maintain eye contact, and respond empathetically. By showing genuine interest in their thoughts, feelings, and experiences, you demonstrate that you value them and their perspectives, fostering a deeper emotional connection.

2. Physical Touch:

Physical touch is a powerful tool to express affection and strengthen emotional bonds. Show your affection through hugs, cuddling, holding hands, or a light touch on the shoulder. These simple gestures can release oxytocin, the "bonding hormone," which contributes to feelings of trust and intimacy.

3. Verbal Affirmations:

Words have immense power when it comes to showing affection. Take the time to verbally express your love, appreciation, and admiration for your partner or loved ones. Offering compliments, saying "I love you," or expressing gratitude can make a significant impact on their emotional well-being, boosting their self-esteem and deepening your connection.

4. Acts of Service:

Actions speak louder than words, and performing acts of service for your partner or loved ones can be a powerful way to show affection. Whether it's cooking their favorite meal, doing household chores, or running errands, these acts demonstrate your love and care for them. Going out of your way to make their life easier or more enjoyable can strengthen your bond and create a sense of partnership.

5. Quality Time:

Spending quality time together is essential for nurturing a strong connection. Make a conscious effort to prioritize dedicated time with your partner or loved ones, free from distractions. Engage in activities that you both enjoy, have meaningful conversations, and create lasting memories. By giving your time and attention, you show that you value their presence and the relationship.

6. Surprise Gestures:

Surprise gestures can add excitement and joy to your relationship. Plan surprises for your partner or loved ones, such as a special date night, small gifts, or unexpected acts of kindness. These gestures show that you are thinking about them and care enough to make them feel special. It's the little things that can make a big difference in strengthening your bond.

7. Emotional Support:

Being emotionally supportive is crucial in showing affection. Be there for your partner or loved ones during both the good times and the challenging ones. Listen without judgment, offer a shoulder to lean on, and provide encouragement and reassurance. By showing empathy and understanding, you create a safe and nurturing environment for emotional intimacy.


Gratitude Worksheets PDF For Couples

My People Patterns has the perfect gratitude worksheet for couples which is launching soon. To be the first to find out about it, put your name on the waiting list and we will email you to alert you as soon as it is live. The Check-In Check-List is designed for busy couples who want to 10x their relationship by working smarter, not harder. The first question it asks is for you to write down what you're grateful for in your partner this week, and you don't need the gratitude worksheet pdf for this, just grab a post-it note and leave it out for them. However, the Check-In Check-List is designed to be more focused and to have a larger chance of strengthening your relationship by using gratitude, accountability, and honesty.


Make A Relationship Stronger

Research shows that expressing gratitude for those we are in relationship with can improve the relationship for both parties by generating warm feelings that create emotional closeness. Expressing gratitude to someone for something they did or a trait they have is a way of acknowledging your partner, and one of our deepest core wishes is to be seen by the people we care about. Gratitude in this form then can impact us on a very deep level. Expressing gratitude to someone we are in a relationship with improves that relationship in an unusual way by reciprocating kindness in them. It seems that gratitude has the snowball impact and it generates a desire to want to help or feel closer to another person.


What are some techniques to increase understanding between two people?

Title: Techniques to Enhance Understanding in Relationships


Building understanding and connection between two individuals is essential for nurturing healthy and fulfilling relationships. However, it can be challenging to bridge the gap and truly comprehend each other's perspectives. In this blog post, we will explore several effective techniques to increase understanding between two people, fostering stronger bonds and enhancing the quality of your connection.

1. Active Listening:

One of the most powerful techniques to improve understanding is active listening. Rather than just hearing the words, focus on fully engaging with the speaker. Give your undivided attention, maintain eye contact, and show genuine interest in what they are saying. Avoid interrupting or formulating responses in your mind while they speak. Instead, try to empathize and comprehend their thoughts, emotions, and intentions.

2. Empathy and Perspective-taking:

Empathy involves stepping into someone else's shoes and trying to understand their feelings and experiences. By practicing empathy, you can foster a deeper understanding of the other person's point of view. Additionally, perspective-taking allows you to consider their thoughts and beliefs, even if they differ from your own. This technique promotes compassion, minimizes conflicts, and strengthens emotional bonds.

3. Effective Communication:

Clear and open communication is vital in enhancing understanding. Express your thoughts, needs, and emotions honestly, using "I" statements to avoid blaming or criticizing the other person. Active communication also involves asking questions to clarify any uncertainties and actively seeking feedback to ensure mutual understanding. Remember to createa safe and non-judgmental space for both parties to express themselves.

4. Non-verbal cues:

Non-verbal cues play a significant role in communication and understanding. Pay attention to body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. These cues can often reveal underlying emotions and help you better understand the other person's feelings. Similarly, be aware of your own non-verbal cues and ensure they align with your intended message.

5. Practice Mindfulness:

Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present and aware in the moment. When you are mindful, you are better able to understand and respond to the needs of the other person. It allows you to be attentive, non-judgmental, and empathetic. Incorporate mindfulness into your interactions by focusing on the present moment, setting aside distractions, and cultivating a sense of curiosity and openness.

6. Conflict Resolution:

Conflicts are inevitable in any relationship, but how they are resolved can significantly impact understanding and connection. Approach conflicts with a willingness to listen, understand, and find a solution that benefits both parties. Use assertive communication techniques and active listening skills to express your concerns and needs, while also considering the other person's perspective. Remember that compromise and mutual understanding are key to resolving conflicts effectively.


How can we build trust and communication in our relationship?

Building trust and communication in a relationship is essential for its long-term success and happiness. Without trust, a relationship can become shaky and filled with doubt, while poor communication can lead to misunderstandings and unresolved issues. So, how can we strengthen these crucial aspects of our relationships? Here are some tips:

1. Open and Honest Communication: Communication is the foundation of any healthy relationship. Be open and honest with your partner, sharing your thoughts, feelings, and concerns. Practice active listening, allowing your partner to express themselves without interruptions or judgment. Remember, effective communication involves both speaking and listening.

2. Trustworthiness: Trust is earned over time, and it requires consistent honesty, reliability, and dependability. Keep your promises and be consistent in your actions. Avoid hiding information or keeping secrets. Trust is built when both partners feel safe and secure in the relationship.

3. Transparency: Be open and transparent in your actions, intentions, and decision-making. Share your thoughts and reasoning behind your choices. This will help your partner understand you better and build trust.

4. Respect and Empathy: Treat your partner with respect and empathy. Validate their feelings and opinions, even if you disagree. Show understanding and try to see things from their perspective. When both partners feel respected and heard, it fosters trust and a stronger connection.

5. Resolve Conflicts Constructively: Conflicts are inevitable in any relationship, but how we handle them can make a significant difference. Instead of resorting to blame or criticism. Again I suggest you take our Conflict Compass Course - an online course for couples who want to improve communication and reduce conflict.


What sorts of games can couples play together to increase intimacy?

Playing games together can be a fun and effective way for couples to increase intimacy and strengthen their connection. Here are some games you can try:

1. The "Question Game":

This game involves taking turns asking each other thought-provoking questions. The questions can vary from light-hearted and fun to deep and meaningful. This game encourages open communication and helps couples get to know each other on a deeper level.

2. "The Love Map":

This game is based on the idea that the more you know about your partner's inner world, the stronger your bond will be. Each partner takes turns drawing a map of their partner's world, including their dreams, fears, hobbies, and aspirations. This game promotes empathy and understanding.

3. "The Sensory Game":

In this game, couples take turns blindfolding each other and exploring the senses. This can involve tasting different foods, listening to music, or touching various objects. The sensory game heightens awareness and encourages couples to focus on each other's pleasure.

4. "Board Games for Couples":

Many traditional board games have versions designed specifically for couples. These games often have questions or activities that prompt meaningful conversations or physical intimacy. Examples include "The Discovery Game" and "The Gottman Card Deck."

5. "Role-Playing":

Role-playing can be a fun way to explore fantasies and spice up your relationship. You can create scenarios together and take on different roles or even try out costumes. This game can help build trust and increase emotional

Relationship Strengthening with a Check-In?

Building and nurturing a healthy relationship takes effort and commitment from both partners. But strengthening your relationship can be quite simple - so here are some steps you can take in the form of a weekly check-ins.

  • Open and honest communication: Effective communication is vital in any relationship. Make an effort to express your thoughts, feelings, and needs clearly and listen actively to your partner. Avoid criticizing, blaming, or being defensive, and instead, focus on understanding and finding solutions together.
  • Quality time together: Spend quality time with your partner regularly. This can involve going on dates, engaging in shared hobbies or interests, or simply having meaningful conversations. Make sure to prioritize this time and be fully present without distractions.
  • Appreciation and gratitude: Show appreciation for your partner's efforts, kindness, and qualities. Express gratitude for the things they do, even the small gestures. This helps create a positive and supportive atmosphere in your relationship.
  • Trust and respect: Trust and respect are the foundation of a healthy relationship. Be reliable, keep your promises, and be honest with each other. Respecting each other's boundaries, opinions, and personal space is also crucial.
  • Conflict resolution: Conflicts are inevitable, but it's how you handle them that matters. Instead of avoiding or escalating conflicts, aim for constructive resolution. Practice active listening, compromise, and find win-win solutions. Seek professional help, such as couples therapy, if needed.

To find out more about our Check-In Check-List, click here


Weekly Relationship Check-In Questions: Tim Ferriss's 3 Essential Questions

The relationship check-in template includes weekly relationship check-in questions that can effectively anchor your gratitude practice and provide a structured conversation platform. Inspired by Tim Ferriss's essential relationship questions, this activity guides you and your partner to discuss:

  • What is my partner doing well?
  • What am I doing well?
  • What do I desire even more of?

This approach encourages expressing gratitude, using 'I' statements, and directly communicating your needs, hence preventing criticism or attacks. Writing down the responses promotes accountability and integrity in the relationship.

To find out more about our Relationship Check-In Template - click here:

The Power of Ritual in Relationship Check-Ins

The Post-It note gratitude activity and weekly check-in questions don't just provide a platform for communication; they also help establish a meaningful ritual in your relationship. Rituals, an integral part of human civilization, help strengthen relationships by providing security and fostering connection.

By following this relationship check-in list consistently, you're intentionally setting aside time each week to connect and communicate, hence building a foundation of trust. The act of writing and sharing Post-It notes adds an element of accountability, paving the way for deeper discussions and solutions.

I've found that couples who have incorporated this ritual into their busy working lives have experienced transformative effects. Some even involve their children, making it a family ritual that sets the tone for the week ahead.

Learn more about conflict, family systems and growing great relationships

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