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You might have noticed that we’re kind of obsessed with healthy relationships here at Core Values Counseling. We recently wrote about how to recognize a healthy relationship and how to start building the foundation of your own healthy relationship (the Gottmans call this your Sound Relationship House). 

There are a host of great ways to begin building your Sound Relationship House. Here, we’ll share three strategies we recommend to get you started on the right foot.

Try Conversation-Based Dates

One of our favorite tools is the Gottmans’ book, Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love. Whether you’re newly in love or have been together for a lifetime, the Eight Dates program guides you through specific conversations on such topics as communication, your sex life, your desires, ways you can compromise when you’re not in agreement (because all of us have those perpetual fights we’ve been rehashing since day one).

The conversation-based dates touch on the following eight themes:

  1. Trust and Commitment 
  2. Conflict
  3. Sex and Intimacy
  4. Work and Money
  5. Family
  6. Fun and Adventure
  7. Growth and Spirituality
  8. Dreams

Remember that in all this, you’re really building a friendship with your partner. And building a friendship takes time! You have to have serious conversations. You also have to make time to play, to get away from the normal distractions of life. (Again, it’s okay — and encouraged! — to put this down on your calendar in pen!)

Establish a Rhythm of Connection — and Stick to It

Optimally, building your Sound Relationship House is about scheduling and getting into rhythms. Here are some things we recommend you work into those rhythms:

  • Set aside a little time every day to recalibrate as a couple with a stress-reducing conversation where you connect for 20 minutes. 
  • Plan one date night a week or every other week. 
  • Enjoy one getaway seasonally (every quarter). 
  • Once a year, do something like a couples retreat that actively builds your relationship (this is absolutely necessary).

This regular commitment of time can be particularly challenging for young couples with kids. But it is critical and so worth the effort. As a couple, you need to get away for two nights. And for every kid you have, add an additional night. Go to your support system (friends, family, chosen family) for help making this a reality. 

Treat Your Relationship Like the Investment It Is

I can’t say it enough: relationships don’t just happen. Your relationship needs to be a priority that you and your partner invest in. That includes investing time, energy, finances, etc. 

Eric, my husband and business partner (who is also a Core Values Relationship Coach), uses an analogy that I think is perfect for the couples we work with: business people go to conferences all the time, and if they pick up one or two good things from a given conference, they consider it a win and totally worthwhile! Why wouldn’t you do the same for your relationship? It’s certainly going to last longer than any business relationship you’ll ever have! 

A great way to start investing in your relationship is our Art and Science of Love conference from October 22 to 23.