This years Banff Couple’s Conference welcomes Robert Gass and Judith Ansara. These two facilitators have a strong spiritual connection and share their knowledge of what has kept their marriage thirty-nine years strong. Some people may shy away from what they have to share such as meditation and mantra, but keeping an open mind can take you and your partner to another level and deepening your relationship on a soul level.
Here are seven tips they recommend to keep your relationship strong:
1. Express Gratitude
“One of the most important ways to build a relationship is to vocalize your appreciation,” Ansara explains. Each day, share at least two things you appreciate about your partner, whether it’s something tiny (his smile) or large (his parenting skills).
2. Be the Change
According to Ansara, blaming is a common reason relationships falter. Instead, she suggests you stop waiting for your partner to get it right and take the initiative. “Ask yourself, ‘How can I be generous instead of judgmental?’” she says. “Then use your voice and actions to demonstrate your love instead of your disappointment.”
3. Cultivate Your Listening Skills
Each week, set aside time to listen to each other. When it’s your turn, do nothing but pay attention “no suggestions or judgments” and reiterate what you’re hearing. (For example, “I hear that you’re upset.”) “Truly listening to your partner and reflecting his thoughts and feelings back to him supports him in solving his own problems,” Ansara says. It also builds your compassion.
4. Practice Empathy
“Empathy is the antidote to judgment and blame,” Ansara says. If you notice yourself feeling superior to or hurt by your partner, imagine yourself having his experience, so you can comprehend what he’s going through. “Understanding your partner’s point of view softens your heart,” explains Ansara.
5. Remember Your Commitment During Difficult Times
When you and your partner are dealing with a challenge, Ansara suggests sitting side by side with your shoulders touching when you discuss it. This reminds you of the connection between the two of you and puts the problem in front of you rather than between you.
6. Touch Every Day
Just as infants can fail to thrive if they’re not held enough, relationships can wither without regular loving, physical contact. Although sex definitely counts, Ansara explains that “any nurturing, pleasurable touch is good.” Squeeze in a kiss before leaving for work, give your partner a neck rub after dinner, or snuggle while watching TV. (Or, better yet, do all three.)
7. Keep Your Agreements
The importance of honoring your vows is clear, but making good on even mundane commitments is also vital. “Keeping an agreement, no matter how small, builds trust, and trust is the foundation of all successful relationships,” says Ansara. “If your partner asks you to pick up some milk on your way home and you agree, make sure you get the milk.”