Articles by Alex Ryder, Couple's counselling, Couples, Relationships, Uncategorized

Quick ideas to help you feel closer to your partner

Most couples who come to my Sydney Couples Counselling practice are in crisis. Therapy is often their last hope to save their relationship, and so we need to make progress quickly.

Making behaviour changes in your relationship is the quickest way to get your relationship back on track and build the momentum and goodwill necessary to tackle more difficult challenges.

Behavioural changes include things like smiling at your partner and saying good morning when you first wake up. They sound basic, but they make the biggest difference in the shortest time. In the field of relationship therapy, these behavioural changes are the equivalent of a “relationship hack” or “quick-fix pill”, to get things started.

When I ask couples in couples counselling what they would like to see different in their relationship, people invariably come up with a similar set of behaviours they want from their partner. 

Below are their distilled answers. These behaviours tend to help people feel loved and appreciated, and like they’re on the same team again. They are simple and extremely effective.

While there is quite a bit of research and technical understanding that supports why these behaviours are effective, the most important thing is that they are practised. You and your partner might like to give them a try.


  • When you first wake up:
    • Smile at your partner.
    • Say good morning in a warm tone – mustering the energy to do this is important (even if you are not a morning person).
    • Hug them – think about whether they’d like a strong or gentle hug or maybe to be touched lovingly.
  • While getting ready for the day:
    • Ask them what they are doing today.
    • Talk about something you are looking forward to.
    • Make plans for the weekend.
  • Before you leave:
    • Hug them goodbye.
    • Kiss them – you might like to try the six second kiss which Dr John Gottman discovered is just long enough to slow the heart rate, relax the nervous system and bond with your partner.


  • During the day:
    • Make some form of contact during the day. Sending a message can be best for busy people; but you can discuss with your partner if they would prefer a phone call.


  • When you get home:
    • Go straight to them to greet them (before the kids, dogs, or checking your mail). Or if you are already home when they arrive, stop what you are doing and greet them.
    • Hug them and kiss them.
  • Before bed:
    • Unwind together in some way. Talk or sit together once or twice a week.
    • Ask them about their day.
    • Go to bed at the same time at least once or twice a week.

Which of these do you wish your partner would do for you? Maybe you’d like to let your partner know.

This is where the rubber meets the road in your relationship. Behaviours immediately affect how you feel in your relationship. They are the ingredients that create (or erode) things like love, trust, respect, and desire.

Applying these behaviours in your relationship will help things feel better immediately and create goodwill for the future. This is why we often use it as a starting point in couples therapy. But if you have difficulty initiating these behaviours; feel stuck in resentment or deep hurt; or perhaps don’t have the energy to try these behavioural changes then a couples counsellor can help you manage the overwhelm and get your relationship back on track.

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

If you feel as though you could benefit from talking with a Therapist please contact  The Sydney Couple and Family Specialists on 02 8968 9397 or email

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