Many of us struggle with getting distracted by our devices and missing out on opportunities for connection. One of the best ways to combat this is to be intentional about how our smartphones and tablets can work for us and enhance our relationships. Here are some apps that can be great tools for intimacy.
Gottman Card Decks
If you feel like you and your partner are lacking emotional connection or you think you and your partner could benefit from trying new things in the bedroom, the Gottman Card Decks app might be a good start.
This app is a set of electronic decks of cards with various topics ranging from ideas for spicing things up sexually to examples of how you can show appreciation. Each deck has its own set of simple instructions to help you make the most out of the experience.
A personal favorite is the Love Maps deck. This one is designed to get couples back to friendship-establishing conversations that they may have had early in the relationship. Each partner takes turns answering the questions on the card.
Questions can be as simple as “What is your partner’s favorite movie?” or as thought-provoking as “What is your partner’s greatest fear?” It’s perfectly okay to not know the answer to a question. Asking and getting to know each other is the point!
Therapist’s Tip: Watch Your Language.
The Gottman Card Decks app is a great tool, but it can be a tool for disaster if you aren’t careful. As you talk through questions and ideas, do your best to avoid blaming or criticizing your partner. Try to turn “you always…” statements into “I feel…” statements. Making judgments about your partner is more likely to start a fight than speaking from your own experience.
The Groupon app is filled with deals for just about anything you can think of. It may be tempting to simply online shop for goodies that catch your eye, but try to focus on looking for experiences. This means looking for things like couples massages, workshops, and wineries.
This allows for couples to make Groupon a vehicle for planning dates. Groupon can mitigate the financial strain and pressure that may be involved with planning date night.
At the time of this writing, the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, which can make date nights difficult to fathom for some. Consider picking out the favorite elements of your date and find out what you can do at home. This could be finding a deal on arts & crafts, a Winc subscription (they send you wine customized to your palette!), or simply use Groupon to brainstorm future plans together.
Therapist’s Tip: Accept Influence.
Accepting influence is the idea that you can express openness to your partner’s ideas without having to agree. Some of us may respond to a partner’s ideas with things like “How are we going to afford that?” or “What gave you that idea?”
Even if it is not intended, these responses tell your partner “You are not worth my consideration,” especially when the subject is quality time together.
The initial response is crucial. A very small, but important adjustment like “Oh really? How did you find out about that?” can make a huge difference.
If you have concerns, you can still accept influence. This could be saying “I really want to go on a trip with you, but I’m feeling anxious about our finances.” If you are the partner introducing the idea, try your best to be patient with how your partner responds.
If your partner says something difficult, you can respond with some version of “I think those worries are important, but I’m feeling lonely and I miss you.”
Similar to the previous tip, the key to all of these responses is the use of language. Speak from your own emotions or concerns and remind your partner that what they have to say is important.
Audible / Overdrive / Libby
Finally, there is Audible, one of the best ways to listen to audiobooks. Many couples workshops and classes involve reading material, which can be difficult to do between multiple people. Audiobooks resolve this issue since two people can cover a book at the same time and at the same pace.
Audible is fairly accessible as there is always a promo for new customers to receive a new audiobook of their choice. The service typically provides special offers to customers after the trial period.
One of the best things about Audible is that previously purchased audiobooks remain in your library regardless of your subscription status.
If you have an active card with your local library, you can check out audiobooks for free from your library using Overdrive or Libby.
Now for recommendations. Mating in Captivity and The State of Affairs by Esther Perel are both books that are a benefit to anyone, regardless of relationship status. Couples specifically can benefit from these books because Perel challenges many of our cultural assumptions about love and passion.
Mating in Captivity tackles the seemingly opposed forces of passion and commitment in long-term relationships.
The State of Affairs addresses the complex reality of affairs and offers thought-provoking ideas about infidelity in the context of a culture that cherishes sexual and emotional exclusivity.
Again, both of these books can be helpful even for couples who are not struggling with passion or infidelity.
Therapist’s Tip: Check In and Discuss.
If you decide to listen to an audiobook with your partner, it can be easy to push ‘play’ and zone out without really absorbing the content. A good way to make the most out of an audiobook is to plan discussions throughout.
A discussion after each chapter or each break is a good start. Take turns asking each other open ended questions. What were your thoughts on that chapter? What did you agree or disagree with? How do you think these ideas apply to us?
Try to avoid sharing your own thoughts until it’s your turn. Taking turns is important because this gives each person a chance to express their thoughts while the other person is focused on listening.
These are just a few options that can be helpful for creatively enhancing your relationship. However, sometimes communication and intimacy can be difficult without the help of a professional. Working with a therapist can make the activities above more enjoyable for you and your partner.
You can contact a therapist through our contact form, calling 317-833-9160, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.