What is the first thing you do when you walk in the door after work? How about when your significant other walks in the door?
I regularly ask the couples I work with how they greet each other and say goodbye on a normal day. I often hear that they do not greet each other at all, too busy greeting the kids and pets or thinking about the dinner they need to make. With couples in distress, by the time they open the front door after work, not only are they not excited to see their partner, they are already bracing for a fight.
One of the ways I help couples reconnect is by putting each other first in these moments. The first interaction of the day or after work can set the tone for the rest of the time together. Choosing to connect and share affection at that moment can make a big difference. Try some of these strategies next time you get home:
As you reach for the door to enter your home, take five seconds to pause and leave the stress of the day at the door. Think about how happy you are to be home with your spouse. Notice any negative thoughts running through your mind about how you might argue and replace them with thoughts about how to greet each other that will set you up for success.
Notice the Good
When you get home, what do you notice first? Is it the clutter of toys and shoes? Is it a chore your spouse didn’t do? This is all too common and completely understandable. But it can also cause a fight, particularly if this first thought is the first thing said to a partner who actually did clean up the rest of the house, or cook a nice dinner, or just had a tough day. Tell yourself that you will take note of the positives in the home, rather than focusing on the negatives.
Put Them First
If you are the first partner home, drop what you are doing and seek out your partner when she/he gets home. Show them that you are excited to see them, and that home is a loving and safe space. Taking even a few seconds to remind yourself and your partner of that connection will improve the interactions to follow.
Share the Little Things
Ask about your partner’s day and talk about your own. Not only will this keep you updated on each other’s lives and allow you to process the day’s events, but it is also a great way to learn about your partner’s current mood. All too often, we assume a spouse’s sour mood is because they are mad at us. Learning that your partner had a tough day at work can allow you to see their current mood as a reflection on the day, not about something you did. This helps you find ways to support each other and move on with an enjoyable evening.