Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT looks at how texting can serve as an effective "relationship check-in."
If you're like many other couples, texting has become a daily form of communication. You might even forgo talking on the phone - in lieu of texting. As a couples therapist, I've seen texting in relationships go awry more than a few times but I'm convinced it can be a productive and in fact loving way to stay in touch. In fact, if you know what you're doing, texting can often serve as a "relationship check-in" with your partner - and way to avoid relationship disconnect.
Let's take a look at a few ways you can use texting with your partner as a relationship enhancing tool:
- Check in on their day. Your partner will likely feel good knowing you care about what's going on with him/her. It's a loving behavior on your part to ask.
- Get an emotional read. If your relationship has been a bit more challenging lately, find out how your partner is feeling. They will also likely feel cared for that you are interested in how they are at that level.
- Reinforce the positives. Research has shown that pro-social emotions like gratitude and appreciation make for happy relationships. If your partner did something you liked, tell them! You will increase the chances of seeing that behavior again.
If there are hurt feelings or topics of contention percolating in your relationship, texting can be used to demonstrate care for the relationship and each other. However, it's best to find a time to sit down to discuss the issues at hand. There's too much potential for misunderstandings and lag time in responses to further rev up emotional reactivity.
The worst thing you can do is fight over text.
Launching grenades at each other will set you up for failure and a spiral that may lead to typing things you regret. Instead, take a deep breath and agree to shelve it until you can sit down with each other. That way you will benefit from all the cues you would otherwise miss - like body language and real-time clarification of meaning of each other's statements. You also have the added benefit being able to hug each other in real life which can produce oxytocin, the hormone of calm and connect.
I’m in the process of creating a free relationship check-in tip sheet to teach couples that checking in with each other via text can be easy and very effective. My tip sheet will explain to couples how to use texting to simply and effectively stay connected with each other in a way that matters most to the heart of your relationship. If want to learn how to have an effective relationship check-in using text - sign up for The Toolbox Monthly Newsletter to get access to the tip sheet which will be available for my readers in October.