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Relationship Rx: 9 Tune-Up Tools

Have you had a relationship checkup lately? Just like a regular office visit with your primary care doctor, relationships need regular maintenance, too. We asked local experts to weigh in on their top tools for creating a healthy partnership with a steady pulse and robust heartbeat.

“Be intentional [by sitting down] to discuss areas that are working great and areas that need growth in your relationship. By creating this regular routine and choosing your words wisely, unmet needs can be tended to more frequently.” —Ashlee Janzen, MS, LMFT,

“Think of your relationship as a team, and work together to support each other and be there when your partner needs you the most. You may have to ask for that support and care, as you can't expect your partner to know what you need.” —Joan Druckman, PhD, Licensed Psychologist and Certified EFT Couples Therapist,

“In healthy, committed, romantic relationships, partners begin to develop safety and security with each other, and a ‘couple bubble’ begins to form. The idea is that ‘I have your back and you have mine.’ It also includes having a shared vision of the future, navigating life’s challenges together instead of individually, and taking each other’s distress seriously. A good place to start when thinking of your couple bubble is by questioning how you show up for one another in private (and in public!) and getting curious if your actions or words are creating security or insecurity in your partner.” —Jennifer Moffat, AMFT, PACT Level 1 Couples Therapist,

Navigate life's individual challenges together.


“No one likes to be fixed, but we all desire to feel understood. Approach differences with genuine interest. Imagine what it's like to be your partner and ask questions to find out. Once you have a grasp of their perspective, reflect it back to them and ask if you're on the right track to understanding.” —Holly Spotts, PsyD,

“Partners with busy schedules often become ships passing in the night. To maintain connection with each other, I teach my couples how to offer bids for connection, both verbal and nonverbal, from physical touch to asking for help on a project. Some ideas can be as small as a kiss or hug goodbye as you leave for the day, a thoughtful text that you’re thinking about them, or engaging in a lingering hug when you’re reunited after being apart. The idea is for these bids for connection to help us stay emotionally connected to each other despite the many different directions we can be pulled in.” —Jennifer Moffat, AMFT, PACT Level 1 Couples Therapist,

“Don't say what you don't like or don't want, but rather say what you do want. For example, if you're feeling disconnected from your partner and want more of their time and attention, an example might be to ask for the following: ‘I'd like to spend some time, maybe 15-30 minutes each night, talking about our day together just the two of us.’” —Joan Druckman, PhD, Licensed Psychologist and Certified EFT Couples Therapist,

“We all get triggered, especially by our partners. When this happens, press pause. Take a moment to ask yourself what emotion you're feeling and where it's coming from. Take some deep breaths until you're feeling calmer and then respond.” —Holly Spotts, PsyD,

“Notice where your relationship might need some additional focus and put some effort into growing that area. Most of us know about the value of date nights, but relationships also require daily attention, even if it’s just giving each other five minutes of undivided positive attention in the morning and/or at night, and when you reunite at the end of the day. Try not to make your relationship the last thing on your to-do list.” —Joan Druckman, PhD, Licensed Psychologist and Certified EFT Couples Therapist,

“We make so many assumptions about the relationship and the person we’re in it with; especially if we’ve been with our partner for a long time. Instead, we should approach our partners from a posture of wanting to understand them better. Life experiences change us. Assumptions can lead us down a very long and misunderstood path.” —Ashlee Janzen, MS, LMFT, 

by Melissa Strand