Articles by Alex Ryder, Couple's counselling

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.

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