A Therapist’s #1 Tip to Foster a Lasting Relationship

Published on: 03 Feb 2022
Clinically Reviewed by Liz Colizza LPC, NCC
couple looking at each other and smiling

As we approach Valentine’s Day, couples are busy making plans to celebrate with romantic dates and big gestures. Maybe you’ve already booked a restaurant, planned an elaborate evening out (or a cozy one in!), or you’ve got something bigger planned, like a special trip or even a proposal. 

Maybe you don’t have plans at all except to spend quality time together…and that’s ok.

Whatever your Valentine’s Day looks like this year, the most important thing is that you and your partner emerge feeling closer at the end. In these crazy times, working on your relationship has never been more important.

If you’re looking for ways to improve your relationship, Lasting by Talkspace is a DIY, research-based tool that comes with innumerable tips and tricks for couples looking to strengthen their connection. Lasting uses decades of relationship research to bring you self-guided sessions that you can pair with your partner, allowing  you both to work on your relationship anytime, anywhere. 

Whether you’ve been in a relationship for a few months or a few years, read on to discover our therapist’s favorite technique you can apply everyday to foster a healthy and long term relationship. 

The Importance of Understanding Emotional Calls 

According to Liz Colizza, LPC, NCC, Lasting’s Head of Therapy, the #1 tip for couples who are ready to increase their connection and protect their relationship against life’s curveballs and is to understand emotional calls.

What are emotional calls? Emotional calls are your daily attempts to connect with your partner. They can be posed as questions, (“How do I look?”), requests, (“Can you do the dishes tonight?”) or expressions (a long sigh). Every call asks the question, “Will you be there for me?”

“Every time your partner recognizes and responds positively to your calls,” says Liz Colizza, “They answer your subliminal question with a resounding, ‘Yes!’ and trust increases.”

Dr. John Gottman, the world’s foremost marriage researcher, discovered that healthy couples respond positively to their partner’s calls 86% of the time, while unhealthy couples on the path to separation respond positively only 33% of the time. Your partner sends you dozens of emotional calls every day, which adds up to 5,000 to 10,000 per year and 250,000 to 500,000 in a 50-year marriage.

These small moments and your responses build on each other to create a significant narrative that you tell yourself about your relationship over time: positive, neutral, or negative. This narrative is the result of your emotional calls being met or unmet. And it can change! In other words, you have the power to determine your relationship outcome. 

“If things feel rocky between you right now, you can start responding positively to your partner’s emotional calls and begin a new story today,” Colizza says. 

And the same rule applies for your partner.

When you feel heard and appreciated, it’s much more likely that you’ll respond positively to your partner’s emotional calls, and a connection cycle begins. You build trust in the small moments today, and then you have a great week, which turns into a great month, which turns into a great year and beyond. 

Sure, you’ll still deal with conflict, but you can trust in the everyday proof that your partner is there for you when it matters most. 

This knowledge and comfort in your relationship will help safeguard you and your partner against relationship threats that might otherwise lead to separation or divorce down the road. 

“By creating this pattern of positive communication you are more likely to give your partner the benefit of the doubt in miscommunications because you have experienced your partner as accessible, responsive, and engaged which are the three threads of secure attachment.” 

Lasting therapist Liz Colizza, LPC, NCC.

How to Incorporate the Understanding of Emotional Calls in Daily Life

The first step to understanding emotional calls is to learn more about your own emotional calls (what do you most need your partner’s support for?) and practice asking clearly and directly for what you need. 

Next, learn your partner’s calls. Do they often text or call just to connect? Do they express a desire to eat or watch TV together? Do they vent to you after work? Ask yourself what they  need from you in that moment and then offer a response with kindness. (For those of you who have been together only a few weeks or months, these rules still apply. Even as you’re getting to know each other’s likes, dislikes, and personalities, take time to identify each other’s calls, too. Trust us, it’ll save you from conflict in the long run!)

“With emotional calls, your goal is not to make your partner happy, instead, the goal is to appreciate them for who they are and boldly love them into becoming the best version of themselves.”

Lasting therapist Liz Colizza, LPC, NCC.

This Valentine’s Day, whether you’re out at a fancy dinner or snuggled up at home, take some time to talk about your emotional calls. Ask your partner what they need from you in this stage of your relationship, and then share your desires as well. In order to make the most progress, remember to approach this conversation gently and with kindness. You’ve got this!

A lasting relationship is in reach, and we’re here to help you along the way. 

Take Lasting’s free relationship assessment today.

Sources: 

  1. Driver, J.L. & Gottman, J.M. (2004). Daily marital interactions and positive affect during marital conflict among newlywed couples. Family process, 43 (3), 301-314. https://scottbarrykaufman.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Driver-and-Gottman-2004.pdf

Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

Our goal at Talkspace is to provide the most up-to-date, valuable, and objective information on mental health-related topics in order to help readers make informed decisions.

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