Episode 335: 10 Ways to Spice Up Your Relationships

Episode Summary

In this episode, we go through 10 tips to revitalize our relationships and be more in touch with our closest ones’ emotional needs. We’ll begin by laying the foundation and establishing what we need to implement before starting and what to expect from these 10 tips.

Rob Shallenberger: Welcome back to the Becoming Your Best podcast. This is your host, Rob Shallenberger. And thank you for joining. I’m so excited that you made the decision to tune in because this is going to be an important podcast for all of us. We’re going to focus on spicing up our relationships. And while that certainly applies to friends, co-workers, children, there’s going to be a heavy emphasis on a relationship with our partner or our spouse. Now, if you’re not married right now, that’s okay, keep listening, this will still apply to you. You’re just going to hear a definite focus on the marital type relationship. And as we get going in this podcast, that’s going to be critical for so many of us because our relationships are the number one predictor of longevity. And none of us want to go through life, arguing, bickering, or just making it through the day or a relationship. We all want to feel fulfilled, have a high-quality relationship where we’re excited to see that person and be together with them. A wise person said, several years ago: “No success in business can compensate for failure in the home.” Think about that. In other words, if you’re going to have a healthy, successful relationship; that is intentional; that is leading a life by design, rather than living a life by default.

Now, of course, I’m not saying that work isn’t important – it is, it’s critical. What I am saying, however, is that being too busy with work is no excuse not to nurture our most important relationships. I mean, think about it, a relationship with your spouse or son or daughter – the reason I say it’s more important than work is because work won’t be there when we’re 90 years old, laying in bed; hopefully, our spouse, our son, or daughter, or close friends will be. So, I acknowledge that work is important, what I am saying, though, is that our relationships are some of the most important things that we have in our lives. And oftentimes, we flip that equation. So, what we’re going to focus on during this podcast are 10 tips to spice up our relationships, to really bring that buyer into them. And again, there will be a focus, primarily, on a marital type relationship. However, again, this could still apply to children, co-workers, and friends; some of these tips; some of them, maybe not. And you’ll know which ones I’m talking about when I get to those.  

As I go through these 10 tips, I invite you to treat these like a salad bar. And what I mean by that is maybe there’s one or two that really resonate with you, great, grab on to those particular tips. If the others don’t resonate, great, just let them pass by and say, “Thanks for the tip, Rob.” If you hear one that really does resonate with you, though, I invite you to write it down to make that an area of focus and see what impact that might have on your relationship.  

Now, let’s talk about laying the foundation here first before we get into these tips. And I like to use gardening as an example. Right now, as we’re recording this podcast, you may listen to it years down the road. So, what you need to know is I’m recording this in mid-June, which means that we’re in the middle of growing our garden right now. And I love gardening. It’s just fun to go out there and see these plants grow and see the progress. Well, let’s take tomatoes as an example. I love tomatoes. So, we go out there, we have a drip system for our tomatoes. We have our girls involved in the garden, they go out there, they clean up the weeds. So, they have the sunlight, they have water. We’re keeping the weeds out, we fertilize them. And it’s funny because I’ll check on my garden two or three times a day. And between the evening and the morning, I don’t notice any difference at all: the tomatoes look exactly the same. So, there are times I’ll be standing next to that plant saying, “Come on, baby girl. You can do this. Let’s go!” And it’s pretty funny actually. But the point is that it takes time and effort and patience. In other words, I can cheer on those tomatoes as much as I want to. We can water them and fertilize them as much as we want to, but it simply takes time and patience. The key is that we put in the effort. We’re not going to reap the harvest of the fruit and the vegetables if we don’t put in the effort and if we’re not patient. Can you see the analogy that we’re drawing to a relationship here? There are a lot of similarities to gardening. In other words, yes, we’ve got to do our part to put in the effort. And then when we do, it takes time. To really build a high trust relationship, it doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time, it takes effort, and it takes patience.  

Now, again, why does this matter so much to us? Well, because relationships are strong. And where both partners would rate the relationship as being very satisfied, 86% of emotional calls are being met. And I’ll explain what that means here in just a minute. In relationships, where the partners would say they’re dissatisfied, only 33% of emotional calls are being met, and that includes, obviously, most divorces. And those statistics came from the Lasting app, which I’ll bring up here in just a few minutes.  

So, let’s talk about what emotional calls actually are and then we’ll get into the 10 tips, but this is important for laying the foundation. So, emotional calls are these things that are important to you. And that may be different for you versus your spouse versus someone else. We all have these different love languages. If you haven’t read the book, The Five Love Languages, it’s a great book. Maybe you’re a person that loves to serve others, and you love when people serve you. Maybe you’re a person that loves affirmations – in other words, it’s just the compliments, little compliments go a long way. Or maybe you’re a person that loves physical touch, intimacy, maybe that’s your emotional call. And the whole idea is that when we’re meeting each other’s emotional calls, we can bounce back from disagreements faster. It’s easier to navigate challenges together, and there’s a strong connection and bond to each other. It doesn’t mean that there are not disagreements, it doesn’t mean that there are not challenges; it just means that we’re in that category where we’re meeting 86% of each other’s emotional calls, the relationship is simply a lot better and it’s a lot easier to navigate those challenges when they show up. So, using the gardening example as a foundation, that it takes time, effort, and patience, and using emotional calls as part of this foundation, these 10 tips are really about identifying what’s important to you and your partner, so that we can meet those calls and do what matters most.  

So, let’s get into these 10 tips. Use this like a self-evaluation. Remember, I said it’s like a salad bar, choose the one or two that are important to you. And if there’s one that you’re like, “That just doesn’t apply to us,” then great, move on to the next one. So, number one should come as no surprise to any of our listeners, and that is pre-week planning. And what I mean by pre-week planning is, individually, going through your week and doing pre-week planning as outlined in Do What Matters Most. And then coming together as a family on, say, Sunday evening or Saturday evening, whenever it makes sense for your family, and we call that a family council. And what you’re doing is going through your week to align your week around what matters most. So, imagine your spouse has done her or his pre-week planning and you’ve done yours. You’ve already gone through your week individually to prioritize what matters most to you in your respective roles. And then you come together to align your weeks around what matters most. So, if you want to have a date night, well, great, now you’re aligning your calendars to actually make that happen. And I’ll just give a 30-second overview for those that may not have heard of pre-week planning before. If you haven’t read Do What Matters Most, it’s in the latter chapters of the book: Chapters 7 and 8. And the whole foundation of pre-week planning is built on four steps. Number one is sitting down on the weekend at some point to review your vision and your goals. In other words, you’ve already gone through the process of identifying what matters most in your vision and your goals. Pre-week planning then is about when are you going to do some of those things. It’s the doing, if you will. Step number two is to then say, “Well, what are your roles?” Identify your roles: spouse, manager, personal or self, parent, brother, son, sister, daughter, friend, philanthropist, caretaker. You get it. What are the five to seven roles that are most important to you? Step three: What matters most in each role? And step four: When will you do it.  

And I know that a lot of you listening to this are using our BYB Planner. You also have the digital planner as an option that can set this up within Outlook and Google. If you want to look at those deeper, you can go to and look at the physical or digital planner. So, that, hands down, is going to be my number one. A couple that does pre-week planning is going to be far more likely to spend quality time together and meet each other’s emotional calls. Because my experience has been that rarely do these things happen on accident; it’s intentional; it’s leading that life by design, and pre-week planning is the engine that drives that. All right, that’s number one.  

Number two is an app that I’m going to promote that I get nothing from. I’m promoting it because I’ve used it and it’s had a huge impact in our own marriage. And that is the Lasting app. So, it’s available on Android, it’s available on Apple. It’s a great app. They have all kinds of resources on there, that can help strengthen the relationship. You’ll be totally dialed into each other’s emotional calls after going through this app. So, the idea behind this is that there’s a daily reminder. It takes 30 seconds to go through the daily reminder. You and your spouse both have the app. So, when one fills it out, the other person gets a little ring, and they can see what person A and person B wrote. So, it’s awesome to have that. And then there are these courses. And you can choose from all kinds of courses; from parenting to trust; from intimacy to quality time together. There are just all kinds of modules – if you want to call it that – you can go through. And again, when one person fills it out, for that day, the other person gets to complete theirs, and then compare answers. And that gives you a foundation to really have some important discussions that otherwise just rarely happen on their own. So, I’d invite you to look at the Lasting app, try it, see if it’s something that works for you, and what impact it might have on your relationship.  

Now, number three: Daily rituals are important. This one, actually, I got from the Lasting app. In other words, what is your morning ritual? Morning departure ritual? How about when you get home from work or before bed? Do you have rituals? They could include such things as praying as a family, eating meals together – whether it be dinner or breakfast, whatever it might be – reading together, reading a book, family council on Sunday evening. These are examples of rituals. Another one that I’ve heard of before is: before the husband or wife leaves in the morning, they give each other a kiss, they hug each son or daughter. These are little examples of rituals, and the more enriching rituals we can develop, the healthier the relationship will be. So, I invite you to consider what your daily rituals look like. Do you have any? If so, what are they? And are there any tweaks that you can make to those that would enhance your relationship? 

Number four is simple. Simple, I’m not sure how easy. It depends on how you’re feeling with each other at the time. And that is a six-second daily kiss. I mentioned earlier on that these 10 tips can apply to everyone, this is one that obviously applies only to your spouse or partner. When I say a six-second daily kiss, wouldn’t you agree that it’s hard to kiss someone for six seconds if you’re upset with them? And the lips are a powerful part of the body that releases a chemical endorphin into the bloodstream, and that’s what happens when we kiss someone, that’s why it’s such a powerful emotion. And so, this is, again, something that very rarely, in most relationships, just happens: happenstance, by accident. It’s really something that if you make it part of your routine or ritual, or part of pre-week planning if it’s not already a part of your habits, this is small as it is, as short as six seconds may sound, it really can set a tone for the day. It can really bring a couple closer together. So, there’s huge power in that six-second, intimate, daily kiss.  

Number five. Now, this is going to be from my own perspective right here, and that is prayer in the evening as a family. We rotate and whoever says the prayer also gets the spotlight. And I found that – speaking for me and for a lot of other people I know – involving God in our relationships is probably the most important thing we can do. We pray together, we read the scriptures together as a family. And while I list this as number five, the reality is it should be number one because think about all the things that come when we do this. Again, it’s hard to be angry when you’re praying right next to someone when you’re expressing to God your gratitude for that person. Forgiveness comes easier. It’s easier to maintain a longer-term focus. And it’s easier to shift away from self into who’s kneeling next to us. Who are they? And what is our role in that? And there’s just power in prayer and reading the scriptures and these biblical principles of kindness, of love, of forgiveness, of humility. So, I found that in our relationship, involving God is a really key part of the relationship – we pray together, we study together, and we talk about it together. And I did mention the spotlight, I’ll highlight that one for just a second. If you have a family dynamic, I invite you to consider doing this where you pray together and then spotlight the person who said the prayer, and that’s where you quickly go around the room and each person just take a few seconds to talk about one thing they love or appreciate about that person. That’s the power of a spotlight. And it really sets a good mood for the family. Again, it’s hard to stay angry when you’re doing these kinds of things together.  

So, let’s catch up on where we’re at: Number one, pre-week planning; number two, Lasting app; number three, think about your daily rituals; number four, six-second daily kiss; number five, pray together as a couple or as a family, and then spotlight each other whoever said the prayer after you’re done; number six, this should also come as no surprise, and that is to identify what your vision is as a parent, spouse, brother/sister, son or daughter. Whatever those roles are, what is your vision in that respective role? And instead of focusing on the problem, when those problems arise, stay focused on that vision because the vision is filled with positive energy and solutions, whereas the problem is surrounded by negative energy and very few solutions. So, if you haven’t already gone through this process, again, I’ll refer you to the book, Do What Matters Most. Chapters three and four in the book are all designed to help a person or empower a person to develop their vision by role. And when I say “develop a vision,” it really does become something that’s meaningful and gives you direction, it becomes your internal compass or true north on who you’re becoming as a spouse, as a partner, a brother, a sister, etc. And so if you haven’t gone through that process, I invite you to do so. If you have, I invite you to memorize the vision that you came up within that role. And once you internalize it, it really becomes a part of who we are. So, that’s number six is to develop a vision by role, and then focus on that vision rather than the problem.  

These next ones actually go pretty quick. Number seven: Control what you can control. That means ourselves. We can influence, we can suggest. One of the things that we’re working on in our relationship right now is using words like, “I feel that,” and then, “What are your thoughts on…?” Let me give you an example, “I’ve been thinking about –” fill in the blank – “and I’d love to get your thoughts on that.” So, instead of just telling the person what to do, there’s an inviting conversation that we can have here. And that again goes back to emotional calls. How does your partner like to be communicated with? A very few of us like to be told what to do. So, think about controlling what you can control and not controlling others, but instead inviting, using words that are not shooting an arrow at the person, if you will. So, for example, we wouldn’t say to someone, “You always forget to take out the garbage,” or “You always do this. You’re always doing that.” Those kinds of things create a defensive posture or emotion in a person. So, we want to invite conversation in a positive way with our partner.  

Number eight is to do a continuous start/stop with your spouse or partner, or even children for that matter. You’re asking your partner in a very open way, “What should I continue doing? What should I start doing that I’m not doing? And what should I stop doing?” And then when they give you feedback, don’t get defensive, but welcome it: “Oh, man, thank you so much. I didn’t even see that.” And they will help us see some of our blind spots that we’re not aware of. They’re going to help point out probably where some of their emotional calls are not being met. And once we’re aware of those, then we can actually focus on those. And so that’s number eight is to do a continuous start/stop with your partner or children.  

Number nine is find a hobby or something you can do together that’s fun. Oftentimes, once kids get put into the equation, the conversations are always around the kids, work, etc. And one of the reasons why people fall in love is because they spend quality time together. So, not that those conversations aren’t important – they are. What I’m saying in number nine is find something that can bring that spice and fun back into the marriage, maybe that’s riding bikes together, hiking, playing pickleball, fishing together; whatever it is and whatever you have time for, you’ve got to make time for each other. If we’re going to show up as a parent, if we’re going to show up in our work roles and do well, then we need to have things dialed-in in our husband and wife relationships and our partner relationships. So, you’ve got to find something that really brings that spice, the fire, the fun back into that relationship. And I realized, I’d been there with poor kids, it’s not easy to do this when you have young kids at home. It really takes work and effort. Hence why pre-week planning is number one. If we’re not making time, then the odds are it’s probably not going to happen. And that’s why pre-week planning and number nine are so closely tied together.  

And then number 10, relatively simple, and that is: Find ways, every day, to compliment your spouse or your partner. In other words, it could be one, two, three nice compliments throughout the day. These literally take five to six seconds to share. It doesn’t take long. Just like we’ve talked about this entire time that it is very intentional. Rarely do we walk in and just say those kinds of things because we’re in the busyness and the craziness of life. So, I invite you to consider being intentional and sharing two or three compliments a day with your spouse or with your partner, and see what impact that has on the relationship.  

So, let’s go through a very brief, quick review of these 10. And again, treat it like a salad bar. What’s one or two that you could focus on this week, and really permanently for that matter? Number one, pre-planning individually, then come together as a family, have a family council and go through your week to align around what matters most. Pre-week planning individually is key though, you can’t just do this as a family and expect awesome results. Both people individually, then come together. Number two, Lasting app. Number three, daily rituals, finding or creating those rituals that enhance the relationship. Number four is that six-second daily kiss, that’s a fun one. Number five is pray together, study the scriptures together, spotlight or consider spotlighting the person who said the prayer when they’re done; it just changes the tenor and tone of a relationship when you involve God in that relationship. Number six, come up with your vision in that role of spouse or partner, and when you’re tempted to focus on the problem, instead, shift to the vision and stay focused on the vision. Seven, control what you can control, usse inviting conversations or words without demanding or without criticizing your partner because they’re not doing exactly what we may want. Number eight, do a continue start/stop; what should we continue doing, start doing, and stop doing. Number nine, find a hobby or something that you can do together to bring that spice and the fun back into the marriage, maybe it’s something you did when you were dating early on, or it’s a new hobby, or a new sport, or whatever it is that you know you enjoy doing together. And then number 10 is to compliment your spouse or partner two or three times a day no matter what. Maybe things aren’t the best at the exact moment, that’s okay, go back to and compliment them. It really takes emotional resilience and a high emotional quotient to do that, even when you may not be feeling at your best.  

So, I hope these 10 tips were helpful. Remember that these are designed to strengthen our relationships or spice them up from where they are today. And again, like a garden, we may be doing some of these, and it’s not going to change overnight. It may take weeks or months. But eventually, we’re going to reap the harvest of the fruit and the vegetables and it’s amazing when that happens. All of us want to be connected to someone in a great relationship. And these are just a few ways, obviously not all-inclusive, that can spice up our relationships. So, thank you so much for joining today. I hope this has been beneficial. And I wish you a wonderful day and a great rest of the week wherever you’re at in the world.  

Rob Shallenberger

CEO, Becoming Your Best

Leading authority on leadership and execution, F-16 Fighter Pilot, and father

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