And then there were two.
September 15, 2016 11:32 AM   Subscribe

My wonderful partner and I are looking for resources on how to strengthen our relationship and move on from some past issues. We are already set to attend couples counseling and are looking for things we can practice and dedicate energy to in the interim. What are things that you've done in your own relationships to make them stronger? We are especially interested in advice concerning trust building.
posted by Marinara to Human Relations (7 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
It'll be hard for anyone to provide useful feedback when there's so little context or details to go off of. "Trust building" and "strengthen[ing] our relationship" can mean very many things depending on your specific relationship, and the specific places where it's weak and strong. Maybe think of it in terms of these two questions:

1. In your relationship, what would you like to see happen less often that's happening too often right now?
2. Conversely, what would you like to see happen more often that's happening too rarely right now?

Aside from that, all I can suggest for right now is to start thinking about how willing each of you might be about going to individual therapy. I'm not saying you also need to start that, just that sometimes, in the course of couples counseling, it'll become apparent that individual work might be needed for one or both partners. Just start considering how you'd feel about that possibility, that's all.
posted by obliterati at 11:56 AM on September 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

The new but conventional wisdom on this seems to be to have new experiences together. I don't mean romantic weekends -- that's a lot of pressure -- but I do mean taking a class or doing something new together.

It sounds like there might have been some kind of infidelity. Find an activity that's new to both of you to avoid associations with anything in the past.

Some ideas:
Learn a new sport or activity together, like tennis, golf, curling, sailing, etc.

Take ballroom, tango, hip hop, etc dance lessons.

Take a cooking class in a cuisine new to both of you.

Take up birdwatching or road cycling.

Does this give you some ideas? Having these new experiences together can be a great way to strengthen a relationship, and the activity part is important, as it gives you something to have fun doing and talk about.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:20 PM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hands down, their long course is the very best thing available.
posted by The Blue Olly at 3:38 PM on September 15, 2016

I feel like doing stuff together. I know it's bad advice to have a kid when a relationship is rocky, but part of what having a kid does (sometimes!) is put you both on the same team working on a shared project that is bigger than the relationship.

I'm not saying you should have a kid, but maybe you could start a magazine together, or build an addition on the house together, or volunteer together (it's phone banking season, or there are lots of service orgs that would appreciate your shared labor).

May backfire if there's a lot of tension in the relationship, but worth a try.
posted by latkes at 6:07 PM on September 15, 2016

I'm reading Come as You Are, which is a wonderful book about sex and a million others things (stress, context, self-love, etc.) for cis women and those who love them. If you and/your partner happen to be a cis female, read this book. Because the love and affection humans can experience from sex is a powerful force for building and/or reinforcing bonds of trust. So consider adding that book to your toolbox, it's great.
posted by Bella Donna at 9:21 PM on September 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

Ride a tandem bike.
posted by fixedgear at 4:46 AM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I would read John Gottman's book The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work. You don't have to be married, and in fact a lot of it is applicable to friendships too. It's a quick read and there are lots of couple's exercises in it.

They also have a couples weekend retreat thing. I have friends who went and they highly recommend it. (It's kind of expensive and we are too cheap to do it.)
posted by ethidda at 12:08 PM on September 16, 2016

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