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USU Extension Education Highlight: Bettering your relationships in 2024

couple sitting down laughing in a field

Regan LaFever: Welcome back listeners to another USU Extension Education Highlight. My name is Regan LeFever and with me today I have David Schramm, a family life specialist.

David, as we get into the new year, many of us are setting some relationship resolutions and trying to better ourselves. I wanted to focus on bettering our relationships on this episode. So tell us some ways we can get out of routines and ruts in a relationship.

David Schramm: Yeah, you know, I think the first thing is just recognizing that all of us get into these habits, these ruts, these routines in our relationships. And I think it's intentionally planning things, something to look forward to. My wife and I, we like to plan a getaway after the holiday, all the stress and the craziness of it. So having something on the calendar to look forward to. Now a specific goal is 24 in '24. Right? So that's like two dates per month for the 12 months. So we're just saying, hey, twice a month plan something you can get on the calendar and aim for 24 in '24.

Regan LaFever: Interesting. That's so good to remember. So what are some benefits to the individual and to the relationship when you both try to do those intentional times?

David Schramm: Yeah, when couples are making things intentional, that means it's at the forefront of our brains of our minds, that we're actually mindfully planning sitting down intentionally because if we don't, we have experiences this relationship drift where we naturally float apart if we're not intentionally planning and so it can help us individually and collectively, like when relationships are going well, we tend to have more energy, we tend to be more focused at work when they're not going well, it spills over and we're more or more stressed that we're reactive to our children, to our co-workers and to others, so affects our health, our mental health, our sleep, our diet, all of that is related, actually, to the quality of our relationships with a wise investment.

Regan LaFever: I can definitely attest to the fact that your partner affects your mood a lot. So those are some good tips. What's a good idea or some good tips for having the conversation to say, hey, we really should be spending intentional time together, you know, how would you suggest we take on that conversation?

David Schramm: Yeah, first a couple tips of when not to do it. And that's when you're hungry, angry, lonely or tired? You know, at the end of the day, when you're stressed out, or when I'm feeling disconnected, now's not the time to say, hey, we never do anything, why don't you ever write any of that intentional that blaming or shaming will not bring a positive response? And so I think when things are going relatively well, so you know, I'd love to sit down, beginning of the year and just plan out some date some time with you getting out of the house, maybe a little bit, or maybe it's a night in. But I would love to foster more connection or more intentionally things, you know, can we find a time? Maybe it's not right now. But later tonight or tomorrow? Can we just spend an hour just focusing on us?

Regan LaFever: That's awesome. In a recent Ask an Expert you wrote, you said we become more critical when we get more comfortable and casual. And that quote really stuck out to me, can you go into a little bit more detail about that?

David Schramm: Yeah, you bet in relationships, especially over time, as you get to know each other become more comfortable in your relationships, that will become a little bit more casual, meaning I might fail to thank my wife, my partner for what's called Invisible work, that's work that I don't notice until it's not done. It's like the, you know, the dishes or the laundry or the bed made. So we stopped doing those little things, we became comfortable with each other. And we start to get a little bit more casual, even in our conversations, or we may get a little bit too sarcastic. And so it's really important to maintain that respect and that connection.

Regan LaFever: How do you think love languages play a factor in all of this?

David Schramm: Huge yeah, I'm a big fan of love languages, really. In my mind, it comes down to tell me, touch me, and being able to spend that time with with each other. And so talking with each other, most spouses, individuals, they prefer one or more of those languages, but often it's one. Whether it is words, and someone really wants to be told, or it's time you know, I really miss you, I miss us, I want to go out, I want to get out of here, I want to spend some time together doing things. And so really being able to pay attention to each other's love language, because we often show love in the love language that that we have, right? I'm touch and so right, my love language is then, I just assume my wife has touch also because that's mine. So we have to really get it on and understand. So relationships come down to understanding the other person's perspective and having compassion and patience as well, with our partners during those times, especially stressful times. But we've got to be able to show that love for our partners frequently.

Regan LaFever: Awesome. Well, thanks so much for being willing to interview with me. I really appreciate it. This was super interesting.

David Schramm: Yeah, thanks for having me on.

Regan LaFever: I'm excited to implement these into my relationship going into the new year, so thanks so much. For more tips and ideas to better your relationship, you can contact your local Extension specialists.