There are many who wonder what the ingredients are to make a true and lasting love potion. What is the key to well-being in the couple? How to make the relationship work a long time? The truth is that there are no constant and pathognomonic variables to achieve a satisfactory relationship.
However, and although all people are different, couple psychology and sexuality establishes certain measures that can be taken to achieve well-being in a relationship. This is the case of pleasant activities and their impact on the members of the couple. Next, we explain it in detail.
When problems make the couple worse
Sexual problems, stress, children, family reconciliation, work, money problems, etc., there are many conflicts that can have an impact on the well-being of the couple. These, or a combination of them, They can leave a mark on the interactions of the members of the couple in many ways.
For example, they may get angry, move away emotionally, reject each other, diminish communication, etc. But nevertheless, Something that always happens is that the two stop doing things with each other.
When pleasant activities are suppressed the problem usually increases. This suppression may not only be a consequence of a major problem, but also the core of another conflict.
The above occurs because a suppression of the reinforcers takes place for both members of the couple. They don't do things together anymore, they don't share activities they used to do, they don't have conversations or they don't go to their favorite restaurant.
There are many triggers of problems as a couple. As a result of this, both may lose the ability to communicate or the desire to share time together.
Enhancers and affinity as a couple
Enhancers are stimuli that cause a behavior to be more likely to appear. For example, if a couple member receives a kiss every time they cook something delicious, It is likely that the next day he will strive to return to cook something equally good.
In that case, the reinforcer would be the kiss, which is causing the behavior of cooking well to be more likely to appear. When they stop doing things as a couple, there is less opportunity for these reinforcers to take place.
If those pleasant activities do not take place, there are no reinforcers and, therefore, those behaviors are much less likely to appear. Therefore, from sexual and couple psychology, it is proposed to carry out pleasant activities as an effective solution and with good prognoses.
Couples usually get together by affinity. Therefore, the usual thing is that there are pleasant activities that can be done together that are reinforcing for both.
The goal of that is to reuse those reinforcers that are no longer used. That they are not used does not mean that they are obsolete. These types of reinforcers do not stop working as such; They have simply taken dust.
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Behavioral or emotional solutions?
When we think about marital or couple problems, we usually don't think the solution is behavioral, but rather emotional and cognitive. In fact, in therapy, it is normal to use both.
Of course, it is important to deal with aspects such as the couple's standards, beliefs about close relationships or unreal and irrational expectations and attributions. It is vital to get into those aspects to achieve marital adjustment, communication patterns or improve sexual relations.
However, pleasant activities are part of a series of behavioral strategies – sometimes neglected – whose benefits are enormous. Further, Those fruits obtained from behavioral techniques can certainly motivate the couple, let them see that all couples work if behaviors are modified, and that they continue to work towards their well-being.
How to increase the reinforcers?
In addition to performing pleasant activities, other behavioral strategies can be carried out that can allow for an effective and lasting change in the couple.
Pleasant activities for well-being as a couple
When a relationship has deteriorated, It is very difficult for both partners to want to do things together. That is the main problem presented by pleasant activities. Therefore, it is useful to start with small things. If a couple has not been out for more than eight months, perhaps taking her on a trip to Panama for fifteen days is not the most appropriate.
However, small activities that are comforting to some member of the couple, or both, can be a good idea: walk the dogs, make food, buy bread together, etc. Simple activities where reinforcers can be generated. As you move forward, you can propose to go to dinner together at your favorite restaurant, go to the movies or party with each other.
Typically, reinforcers of such activities are observed, which affect the likelihood that these activities will take place again. Many couples who go to couples therapy, with a very deteriorated relationship, they do the pleasant activities themselves, after having done the first ones. They are the ones who take the initiative to go from buying bread to dinner together, without the therapist saying so.
The latter is just an example that behavioral techniques are useful at the beginning of couples therapy: the first thing to do is to look for reinforcers.
Something as simple as cooking as a couple or going shopping together can be useful to promote well-being as a couple.
Special days: reinforcement day for each other
Another way to establish reinforcements without a specific activity prevailing is to use the special day technique. This is useful if the couple is not willing to do anything together or do not have time. On special days, both partners are asked to dedicate one day of the week to reinforce the other. The two days cannot match, but they both know what days the special days are.
Although in the first stage there is suspicion – it looks like something unnatural or forced – the truth is that couples usually feel good. By receiving reinforcements – from comments, conversations, actions – people often feel satisfied.
When one gives reinforcers, one usually receives reinforcers in return, and that is an idea that both have to take into account. It is usually generalized to give reinforcement because both feel better. Although this technique does not allow conflict resolution, it does serve to increase gratification.
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Observation of the positive to promote well-being in the couple
Another behavioral technique that can be used in addition to pleasant activities is the observation of the positive. Although there are positive things, things that previously liked or attracted, When a relationship is impaired, these positive aspects are often blurred: they cease to be observed.
The observation of the positive also seeks to increase the reinforcers through the communication of aspects that the other of the couple likes. From physical, psychological or day-to-day aspects –«Today the food has been delicious»-, it is about that each day both say three positive things. Ideally, these three things be communicated at night for ten or fifteen minutes each day.
As it has been observed, there are no concrete keys for a couple to be happy. However, all couples can function, potentially, if behavioral and cognitive changes are made. These changes go hand in hand, that is, behavioral techniques can cause cognitive changes and vice versa. Therefore, it is important to know both and know how to apply them in pursuit of well-being in couple.