Today I was asked to participate in an upcoming podcast for my local state Marriage and Family Therapist chapter. The topic is to provide 5 tips to help couples sustain their relationships/marriages. As I sorted through my mental files of all the useful ideas there are in this area - I wondered if there is a better way than to simply list "5 tips" (which might go in one ear of the listener - and out the other soon after). I remembered old test taking strategies and how helpful acronyms can be to help remember a number of points around a central concept.
Hmmm...What if I identified a catchy acronym to help people retain the information and be better able to recall it when needed?
Here's what I came up with:
Imagine two lovebirds together, doing what lovebirds do if kept in pairs; constantly groom each other and sit as close together as possible when sleeping or resting.
What is a word that often describes the sound birds make? "Chirp."
Here are my five tips to help couples sustain their relationships/marriages:
Check In: There is no question we are all busy with kids, careers, social obligations and more. It's way too easy to lose touch with your partner. Make the time to get an emotional read on the other. “How are you doing? How are you feeling today? How are we doing? Anything we need to talk about?”
Hug: Did you know that if you hug your partner for at least twenty seconds (full body hug) you both have the potential to release oxytocin, the bonding hormone? Take advantage this chemistry boost by hugging, hugging, hugging!
Interest: Your partner will feel cared for by you if you show interest in what interests him/her. This isn't to say you need to pick up a hobby that just does NOT do it for you (I'm chuckling as I think about my husband's love of flying remote control helicopters) but you can still ask them about it occasionally, right?
Romance: Date night, date night, date night.
Play: I think there's something to be said for the saying, "Couples that play together, stay together." Not only does play relieve stress but playful interractions can bring you closer together! Be silly, give each other love taps, use crazy pet names or anything that brings laughter. I get such a kick out of the couples I work with who clearly have this down pat. I always reinforce this in them - and let them know that humor can help ease them out of conflict as well!
So - what do you think about my acronym for sustaining healthy relationships, "C.H.I.R.P.?" (and ode to lovebirds)
Lisa Brookes Kift is a Marriage and Family Therapist and author of The Marriage Refresher Course Workbook for Couples, a cost effective, do-it-yourself, therapist-guided alternative to counseling.