Chris loves coffee; I prefer tea. One thing we can agree on is spending our early mornings together on the couch. Especially when it is crossword puzzles. In 15 minutes a day, we can usually knock out a puzzle (not the NYT’s Sunday crosswords – those are much more difficult) and spend time together. So, why do we do it? First, Connection. Chris and I begin each day by touching, laughing, and working together. Second, this is how we practice tackling problems in relationships. Often, we will chat about the goings on at home or work. Mostly we laugh, complement each other (some of the answers come out of thin air), and simply BE together.
It isn’t about crossword puzzles. And, yet, it is about crossword puzzles. What do I mean? We understand the importance of connecting daily. In essence, sitting and spending time together opens the door to discussing difficult things. As we spend time crafting answers for 21 across, we know we are on the same team. It is never about who gets the answer first; it is working together to solve the puzzle.
Then we take this teamwork into our relationship. Essentially, we tackle problems that arise as a unit. It is US vs. the problem.
Undeniably, relationships work best when partners work together.
Here are the 5 steps to remember when tackling problems in relationships:
1. Go after the problem and not each other’s views/opinions of the problem.
2. Work on the issue at hand without bringing up past arguments or hurts.
3. Be honest about your feelings.
4. Remember that both people’s thoughts/feelings are valid.
5. Be kind. In the event that you cannot be kind, take a breath and step away for a few minutes.
Remembering these tips will help reduce negative reactions and escalation of the issue. As a bonus, this framework will also help build connection in your relationship. When you do the easy things, the hard things become easier. Without connection, it is impossible to create a #10 relationship. And, I think we can agree that 10/10 is where we want to be with our partner.
After completing today’s puzzle, Chris hugged me and kissed my forehead. In those few short moments, I felt seen. I felt connected to him. I felt deeply loved.
The reality is that a loving, connected relationship requires time together. So, prioritize at least 15 minutes with your partner daily. One question to ask each other, what do you and your partner enjoy doing together? Once you have the answer, how can you build that into your daily routine?