Relationship Habits Improve through Changing Your Environment

So how are your relationship habits coming along?

Even if you haven’t implemented any real change yet, just being aware of your tendencies can have a major impact on your life. One major goal of counseling is to increase awareness of who you are and what you do. Understanding yourself more deeply will not by itself create change, but you cannot do things differently if you aren’t aware of what you’re actually working on!

So keep plugging along…. you’re on the right track just by thinking about these issues more.

In the last few blogs (read them herehere, and here) I’ve focused on gaining awareness of your relationship habits and suggesting small things you can do to try to implement more effective behaviors.

Today I’m going to talk about one major factor impacting the choices we make every single day: your environment.

Change your environment to improve your relationship

“Huh? What do you mean, change my environment?”

I’ll give you a small example to explain. Let’s say you wake up in the morning with a serious craving for a donut. You’re trying to eat a healthier diet, but man, that soft, pillowy, glazed goodness sure would hit the spot right now! 

If you were to walk into the kitchen and there was a nice box of donuts sitting on the counter, what is the chance you would choose not to eat one? Close to zero!

You’d be drooling and eating like Homer Simpson in no time – mmmmm, donut….

But what if you had to get dressed, drive 10 minutes to the store, and then wait in line to buy your donut? Would you do it? Maybe. Especially if you REALLY wanted that donut! But maybe not. That extra effort might not be worth it, especially if you’re trying to eat healthier.

That box of donuts on the counter is part of your environment. If it’s there in front of you, it’s way more likely to influence your behavior. If it’s not, it won’t.

So what does all this have to do with relationship habits?

If you can change those parts of your environment that influence how you interact with your lover, you are WAY more likely to make choices that improve your relationship habits.

Here are some ideas for how you could change your environment to help you better connect with your partner:

  • Charge your phone somewhere outside your bedroom, increasing the chance for intimacy or talking
  • Remove TV from living room and arrange seating to make it comfortable for talking and relaxing
  • Turn off radio when you are driving with your loved one
  • Have a clean/clear table when you sit down to eat together (vs. eating at kitchen counter or in front of TV)
  • Keep your bedroom clean, tidy, and smelling nice to make it a place you enjoy being romantic

Another way to think about changing your environment is to literally switch up the places you spend time together. Have you ever noticed you tend to fight less and enjoy each other’s company more when you are on vacation? Much of this is due to your environment!

Obviously, we can’t go on trips every day, but it’s possible to switch things up in a smaller way by going on “mini-vacations.” Ideas might include:

    • Go to coffee shop to talk
    • Go for hike
    • Regularly travel to new places within 2 hours of home
    • Find fun activities you both might enjoy
      • Spa
      • Cooking classes
      • Skiing
      • Ice skating
      • Pick new restaurant once per week (with theme – Asian food, Mexican food, burgers, vegetarian)
    • Farmer’s market
    • Concerts
    • Comedy club
    • Sit in a park

Clearly, these are simply ideas for fun dates. Maybe you already do many of these activities together. But have you made a habit of spending time together away from your home? 

How will you change your environment?

This week, I want you to make a conscious effort to change one thing about your environment. Switch something around at home or make a commitment to regularly spend time together away from your house.

Pay attention to what happens. Is it easier to connect with your partner? Is your conversation any different? Do you have more fun together?

Please try it out and touch base to let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear about your experiences. Also, if you are ready to make serious changes in your relationship please schedule a couples therapy appointment today.