7 Things All Unhappy Couples Do (And What You Should Do Instead) – Huffington Post

Screen Shot 2015-07-18 at 4.16.35 PMAll of us have been unhappy in our relationships from time to time, but does that mean we are actually unhappy? Likewise, it can be hard to know how to make our relationships happier.

I was asked by Huffington Post about the most common things unhappy couples do, along with tips for how they can change course. I was pleased to participate in this great compilation of pitfalls to avoid in order to keep your relationship on track:  7 Things All Unhappy Couples Do (And What You Should Do Instead), by Brittany Wong.

4.  They put in phone time instead of face time. 

We’re all guilty of glancing at our phones when we should be engaging with our partners. But according to psychologist Alicia H. Clark, do it too often and it sends a powerful non-verbal message to your S.O.: Whatever I’m doing on my phone is far more important than you. 

A starting place to move beyond the behavior “could just be turning off, muting or putting your phone out of reach at dinner,” said Clark, who’s based in Washington, D.C. “This allows your partner your full attention and sends the nonverbal message that time together is important.”

5. They allow their relationship to grow stale.

If you want a long-term relationship to last, making an effort to share new and exciting experiences is essential. When couples fall into ruts and routines, they stop growing together and run the risk of growing apart, said Clark.

“Too much passive disconnected activity — watching TV, surfing Internet, reading — can erode a sense of connection and lure couples into a cycle of disengagement,” she said.

If you find yourself bored by your partner, Clark recommends trying something new together: tackle that recipe you found on Pinterest, go for a hike or schedule date nights again.

“Novelty has been shown to boost relationship connection via the reward circuitry in our brain that stimulates feelings of pleasure, desire and motivation,” Clark explained.

7. They don’t touch. 

Don’t underestimate the power of playful pinches on the bum and hand-holding in public. Couples on the fritz tend to put physical contact and the intimacy on the back burner, said Clark.

“Human touch is a cornerstone of bonding and has been shown to drive up oxytocin — dubbed the cuddle hormone — that in turn facilitates attachment,” she explained. “If you’re in a relationship, make sure to do the little things: kiss each other when you say goodbye, hug more frequently or just hold hands while driving or watching TV. It will make a difference.”

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Alicia H. Clark, PsyD