Articles by Alex Ryder, Couple's counselling, Couples, Listen, priorities, Relationships, Romance

60 seconds to transform your evening AND your relationship

After a day apart, the first 60 seconds you spend with someone you know is in many ways the most important moments for the life and vitality of the relationship.


This can transform your evening and your relationship.

In these fleeting initial moments, we very efficiently assess a person’s level of enthusiasm to see you, their level of energy or lethargy, and their overall mood. From that quick assessment we conclude how the remainder of the interaction might go… and tend to act out our habitual role in the sequence.

For example, he or she is stressed, I tip toe around, we do our own thing, and see each other in bed before we go to sleep.

Inevitably, the first few minutes of interaction tend to shape the mood for the rest of the evening. If those moments are detached or distracted, then they are likely to remain that way. If they are loving and present then they are likely to remain loving and present.

My bet is you know this intuitively. Because when I ask couples that have come for couples counselling “what would make a big difference to how you feel in your relationship?”, an answer that is always suggested is they would love it if their partner greeted them more warmly. They say things like “if he/she smiled at me when they arrived home” and “if he/she hugged me” and “if they just looked up or stopped what they were doing for a minute”.

This is far from ground breaking, but we sometimes need reminders to do the little things. If you are like many people and have forgotten the importance of the first impressions you give your partner every day, then here are some reminders to keep you on track.

Transform your relationship with these 6 key steps

  1. Stop what you are doing – Do we really need reminding of that? Believe it or not this is THE most common request couples make of their partner when discussing what they would like from their partner. Put your phone or laptop down; the washing or the dinner can wait 60 seconds. Give your partner your exclusive attention and set up your evening with the best possible start.
  1. Greet with equal enthusiasm – Greet your partner with the same level of enthusiasm as you greet your kids or your pet. If you’re willing to muster a big hug for your child, think about doing the same for your partner. This not only conveys to your partner that you love them as much as the kids, it also demonstrates to your child that your relationship with your partner is important. The most developmentally positive gift you can give your children is a demonstration of a loving relationship.
  1. Make eye contact and touch – Making eye contact releases oxytocin in the body and helps you and your partner feel more connected. This will help you get on the same wave-length when you have had different days. Touch has the same affect when it is from someone we are close to.
  1. Greet consciously – before you see your loved one, ask yourself what role you want to play in their lives tonight. Who are you going to be for them? Who do you want them to be for you? A lover, a teammate; or a torment, and a stress. You have the power to decide how you walk through the door to your own home.
  1. Postpone venting – greet your partner first and allow each of you to connect before venting about the difficulties of your day. The first 60 seconds should be about you as a couple. Protect that from the monotony of the day.
  1. Think about your questions – the questions you ask focuses your partner’s attention. Rather than falling into the usual “how was your day?”, try being a little creative.
    1. What made you laugh today?
    2. Who made you smile today?
    3. Did you read or listen to anything interesting today?
    4. If we traded places, what advice would you give me for the day tomorrow?

Couples that are feeling distant and disconnected in their relationship invariably request their partner would greet them in a more warm and loving way. This is also about mutual respect. (Learn more about re-building respect here.) The first 60 seconds of your interaction will set up your evening for love and closeness or distraction and distance. You have the power to choose how you show up in the first 60 seconds of your relationship. Make them count.

If frustration has become a common element in your relationship, a specialist couples counsellor can help. Call Sydney Couple and Family Specialists today on 02 8968 9397.

About Alex

Alex is an accessible and compassionate therapist.  His clients appreciate that Alex listens with the intention of genuinely understanding them.  He’s lovely with adolescents, who seem to warm to him

immediately, and he creates a space in sessions for any or all participants to have their say and feel heard.

Alex’s particular strengths are in the area of working with couples and he has extensive experience and training in this area.  He is both Gottman and Systemically trained and draws on practical ideas that clients can immediately make use of to enhance their relationships.

Alex comes to Sydney Couple and Family Therapy Specialists from backgrounds as a Lifeline Crisis Line Counsellor and Trainer and Therapist at the highly-respected Jansen Newman Institute.  He has supported individuals and couples through trauma, anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation and adolescent struggles.

Alex has helped many people through intensely frightening and painful life events – and to a place where they have the skills and confidence to carry themselves forward.

Alex is married with a young family and therefore easily relates to the stress and struggles that many couples and young families face today.

“It takes a lot of courage to share a moment of crisis with someone you don’t yet know.  Even more so, to entrust your intimate relationship over to them.

I have been in the fortunate position to be trusted with that responsibility many times and have helped people – through their own bravery, honesty and effort – to transcend their suffering and improve their key relationships.”

Alex also runs the pre-marriage counselling course at the Sydney Couple and Family Specialists

Qualifications and Professional Membership

Alex holds a Masters of Counselling and Psychotherapy from Jansen Newman Institute Sydney, and a Bachelor degree from the University of Sydney.  Alex also holds a Gottman training certificate.

He is a member of the Australian Association of Family Therapy, the Counsellors and Psychotherapist Association of Australia, and the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia.

Why see a Couples Counselor?

Are you wondering if couples counselling is for you? In this interview Alex Ryder answers common questions we hear from people who want to understand more about this process.

And remember, if you are a new client you can book a free 15 minute telephone session with Alex.

“We really like your approach. The other couples counsellor we saw left us stuck in negativity.  Right from the start we felt hopeful with you.  Your positive approach helped us out of the slump, so we could address the real issues.” – Murry (36) married to Tasha (39); One Child (3) – Clients who saw Alex Ryder for Relationship counselling.

“I’ve wanted to refer you to so many people.  Obviously I haven’t given the circumstances, but we are huge fans and are so grateful for your help.” – Tom (49) married to Sarah (43). Two children; 15 & 13 – Clients who saw Alex Ryder for Relationship counselling following an affair.

“I think we told you in our first session that you were the last couples therapist we were going to try. Everything was on the line.  So thank you for… well everything.” – James (55) married to Philippa (53) – Clients who saw Alex Ryder for Relationship Counselling


Sign up today to get tools and strategies to build your relationship

Call us Today Book FREE Consultation