4 Brain Hacks to Improve Your Relationship

by Dr. Sarah Schewitz
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How you think affects the way you feel. Your brain is incredibly powerful and believe it or not, has a lot more to do with the quality of your relationship than your heart. Let’s take a closer look at an example of how changing the way you think about a situation affects the way you feel about your relationship.
Lauren starting dating Jack 5 years ago. When they first started dating, Lauren loved how Jack took control and planned their dates. It made her feel exhilarated and swept off her feet when he told her to be ready at 7 and she didn’t even know where they were going. Lauren trusted Jack and knew that whatever he had planned would be great because they would be together.
Now fast forward 5 years. Lauren and Jack are married. They have been fighting a lot lately and Lauren has been complaining that Jack never considers her feelings.
Jack decides to plan a surprise getaway for the two of them to reconnect and he makes reservations without consulting Lauren. On Thursday, he tells her to pack her bags and get ready because they are leaving for a 3 day trip in the morning.
Lauren is furious. She says “this is exactly what I’m talking about! You never ask me how I feel about something or run it by me before taking action. It’s like your opinion is the only one that matters in this relationship! You think we need a getaway so you plan a getaway without even asking if I have plans or want to go out of town this weekend!” Jack is baffled. He thinks has has made a grand romantic gesture and Lauren used to love it when he took control and planned surprises for her.
So what has changed? Lauren has stopped interpreting Jack’s tendency to take control as meaning that he loves her and wants to take care of her. She now interprets that behavior as evidence that Jack wants to be in control and only cares about himself. It’s the same behavior but when viewed from a different lens by Lauren, it invokes a completely different response. Lauren is engaging in what is called “stinking thinking”, something you can read more about here.
Over time, many people tend to build up resentment towards their partner and stop giving them the benefit of the doubt. So how can you change this pattern and start thinking more positively about your partner and your relationship?

Here are 4 brain hacks to help improve your relationship:

  1. Each night when you go to bed, write down 3 things you love about your partner. Writing these things down will train your brain to focus more on the positive.
  2. Every week, thank your partner at least 5 times for something he or she did that you appreciated. This could be something like holding the door for you, taking out the trash, kissing you hello, making you dinner, or putting the kids to bed while you had some alone time. These don’t have to be grand gestures. Try to notice and appreciate the everyday things your partner does that makes your life easier or better.
  1. Plan a date night for just the two of you. No kids, no friends, no distractions. Reconnect with each other by reminiscing about when you first met, what you were attracted to about each other, and why you fell in love in the first place.
  1. Get intimate! This doesn’t have to mean sex, though that is certainly one way to feel close again. Oxytocin, sometimes known as the love hormone, helps us feel loved and loving. Oxytocin has been shown to reduce blood pressure and increase feelings of safety and security. You can release oxytocin in 3 different ways with your partner. Hug for at least 20 seconds, kiss for at least 6 seconds, and have an orgasm either with your partner or while thinking about your partner (both induce loving feelings towards them!) Try to do at least 1 of these every single day. Need to spice up your sex life? Check out 3 Secrets to a Better Sex Life.

For more tips and tricks on how to improve your relationship, check out the Couples Learn Community.


Dr. Sarah Schewitz
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