In fairytales, couples fall in love, ride into the sunset, and live happily ever after. But in real life, relationships are never this easy. In John 16:33, Jesus said, “In this world, you will have trouble.” This statement applies to relationships too. Every couple has difficulties. Common relationship problems include marital disagreements, physical health issues, parenting problems, and financial troubles. Overcoming challenges requires relationship growth. In this post, we’ll examine 9 ways to grow as a couple, move past troubles, and renew love by creating soft landings.
Why Every Couple Needs Soft Places to Land
What exactly are soft landings? Soft landings are tiny love habits that provide couples an escape from stress to reconnect. There are two types of stress that all couples face.
- First, there are the general stressors of life. Stressors are everywhere and accumulate over time. According to the diathesis-stress model, everyone has a genetic capacity for mental illness. Once a person’s threshold elevates above what he or she can bear, symptoms of mental illness set in. This means people really can—and do—drive themselves crazy. Taking a break from general stress is the first reason every couple needs a soft place to land.
- Second, according to relationship expert John Gottman, 69% of relationship problems cannot be resolved. These unsolvable issues are rooted in fundamental differences in beliefs and values. Gottman found that even happy couples disagree. Fortunately, happy couples also remain happy, so long as they can pause their disagreements to reconnect. Stepping out of routine arguments to renew love is also what soft landings are about.
If you want to grow as a couple and renew love, then keep reading. Because stress and relational disagreements are normal parts of life, every couple needs soft places to land. In this article, we show you exactly how to incorporate soft landings into your love journey!
- First, we examine how a love habit of soft landings keeps couples connected in troubled times.
- Next, Jenny and I share our own soft landing story.
- After that, we provide 9 specific relationship tips for building soft landings into your bond.
- Finally, we conclude with thought-provoking questions to help you put soft landings to work.
So, grab a cup of coffee, tea, or another favorite beverage. Then, dive in. We’ll guide you every step of the way!
Table of contents
- Why Every Couple Needs Soft Places to Land
- Happy Couples Renew Love
- All Couples Must Renew Love and Grow
- How to Grow as a Couple with Soft Landings
- A Formula to Renew Love
- A Relationship Infographic Overview on How to Grow as a Couple
- 1. How to Renew Your Love by Filling Your Partner’s Love-Bank
- 2. How to Grow as a Couple with Connectication
- 3. How to Renew Love with Into-Me-See
- Different Types of Soft Landings
- 9 Relationship Tips for Your Love Journey
- Love Habits to Renew Love Daily
- Love Habits to Renew Love Weekly
- Love Habits to Renew Love Yearly
- Dive Deeper into Your Love Journey
- Related Posts
Happy Couples Renew Love
Fairytales portray love as a one-and-done deal. After the prince rescues the princess, the two enter into endless bliss. But there is always more to the story. Song of Solomon 2:15 says, “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes, that ruin the vineyards—for our vineyard is in bloom.”
If you’ve read the Song of Solomon, then you know it’s a love story. This book depicts a wonderful intimacy that’s possible in marriage. Yet, even the best relationships have challenges. The phrase tiny foxes is a metaphor for the pesky little things that get in the way of a connected bond. Little foxes make a mess of fruitful vineyards, and when relationship problems linger, they make a mess of the relationship. In other words, minor relationship irritations have the potential to become major barriers to connection and joy.
Happy couples know this and plan ahead. By building soft landings into their bond, happy couples create space to renew their love and drive the foxes of negativity out. A primary difference between happy and unhappy couples is that happy couples don’t allow differences to envelop their relationship!
All Couples Must Renew Love and Grow
Have you ever seen the sequels of our most famous fairytales? These include Cinderella 2, The Little Mermaid 2, and Aladdin: The Return of Jafar. As a daddy to four girls, I’ve seen them all. Yet, the squeals pale in comparison to the originals.
Watching, Arial, the mermaid fall in love with Eric, a human prince, is captivating. Prince Eric’s defeat of the sea witch keeps everyone’s eyes glued to the screen. But then comes The Little Mermaid 2. In the sequel, we discover Arial and Eric’s relationship is much like ours. Sure, they are royalty. But over time, their love becomes more mature, less intense, and well—quite ordinary. Like us, the couple has,
- Schedules to keep.
- Meals to prepare.
- Duties that need attending.
- And the couple does their best to raise a rambunctious pre-teen daughter.
The opening scenes of these sequels shatter our dreams of living happily ever after. We learn princes and princesses have little foxes in their relationships too! Although the sequels are far less entertaining, they more closely align with how relationships actually work. Perhaps this is why they are less popular than the originals. They hit too close to home!
The bright side is these fairytales illustrate why soft landings matter. Because every couple has relationship troubles, all couples must grow in their ability to set aside differences and renew love. Or, as Jenny and I like to say, every couple needs a soft place to land!
How to Grow as a Couple with Soft Landings
So, how do soft landings help couples grow closer and renew love? We’ll answer these questions as we share our soft-landing story.
Our Soft Landing Story
Our family was stressed! As a blended family, Jenny and I faced added challenges early in our marriage. In their amazing book, Restored and Remarried, Gil and Brenda Stuart describe what they call remarried math. Here is how it works: “Take the combined number of children you have, then multiply that by the years married… When you do the math this way, it is a far more accurate measurement of time because of the intensity of life with the blending factor of ‘those people (the kids).”
Now, just to be clear, Jenny and I have amazing kids! We also discovered that Gil and Brenda are right. Like most stepfamilies, our life can be intense. We have bonus kids, bonus family members, and bonus challenges too. Four years into our marriage, this intensity peaked!
The bright side is these challenges caused Jenny and me to start working together fast—we had to! The downside was we were exhausted. Like bad amateur plate-spinners in a circus sideshow, we raced to keep up with life. Eventually, our stress reached a tipping point. The two of us feared if we didn’t catch a break from the persistent stress, everything would crash. In other words, we longed for an escape where we could grow closer and renew love!
How We Found Our Soft Place to Land
As we packed for our move from sunny San Diego to snowy Minnesota, the pressures continued to mount. On one of the most stressful days, Jenny called her dad, who simply said, “Just know once you arrive in Minnesota, you and your family have a soft place to land.” Before our move, Jenny’s family had helped us go virtual house hunting (Yep, we purchased our home without actually seeing it first). Then, her family collected pre-loved furniture, so our home was ready when we arrived. Thanks to Jenny’s parents, our entire family had a soft place to land when we needed it most.
Those words meant a lot to us. They were so meaningful the phrase soft landings made its way into our vocabulary. Soft landings are when couples step away from stress to reconnect. During these breaks from the storm, couples renew love and grow closer.
But creating soft landings is more than just a meaningful phrase. The idea is also based on sound relationship research.
A Formula to Renew Love
John Gottman and his team’s intense relationship research has provided an incredible new understanding of how love works. Overcoming obstacles, growing closer as a couple, and renewing love doesn’t happen by accident. In his love lab, John and his team observed over three thousand couples. In many of these interactions, they painstakingly coded every gesture, facial expression, word, and action. Then, they searched for identifiable patterns.
John discovered couples don’t trip and fall into a happy relationship. While a couple may fall in love, in order for love to last, specific requirements must be met. Most notable is the 5/1 ratio. Happy, stable couples have a consistent pattern of five positive interactions for every negative one. This is why soft landings work. Soft landings provide space for couples to reduce love deficits. This is done in three primary ways. Happy couples renew love by:
- Filling their partner’s love bank.
- Creating moments of connectication.
- Through intimacy (which we define as into-me-see).
Use the relationship infographic below to get a broad overview of each of these soft landing components.
A Relationship Infographic Overview on How to Grow as a Couple
Use the relationship infographic below to get a broad overview of building soft landings into your bond. Every couple needs regular escapes from the mundane routines of life. These breaks are the perfect times to catch foxes, renew love, and grow closer as a couple. The relationship infographic, The Couples Guide to Soft Landings, will support you on this journey!
Grab the code to the right to add this relationship infographic to your website:
<a href="https://blog.ithrive320.com/renew-love/"><img style="width:100%;" src="https://blog.ithrive320.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/The-Couples-Guide-to-Soft-Landings-02-scaled.jpg"></a><br>By: <a href="https://www.ithrive320.com/">iThrive320</a>
Use the buttons above to download a printable version of the relationship infographic or to add it to your website. Then, dive deeper by examining how each area allows partners to grow as a couple and renew love.
1. How to Renew Your Love by Filling Your Partner’s Love-Bank
Every couple has an internal love bank. Love-bank deposits are made, through:
- Words of affirmation
- Simple acts of service
- Physical touch
- Small, thoughtful gifts
- Quality time together
These actions (sometimes referred to as the five love languages) are love-bank fillers. It’s important to know the love bank isn’t about keeping score. The term love bank simply describes what happens in every couple’s heart. Love-bank deposits, like the ones mentioned above, help one’s partner to feel loved. On the other hand, negative interactions, such as arguing, giving the silent treatment, rejection, rude remarks, and harsh words result in love-bank withdrawals.
Like an actual bank account, the ultimate love-bank goals are to make frequent deposits, build a hefty savings, and never go into debt. While this is the love-bank ideal, trouble always hits. In stressful times, it’s easy for couples to fall into love debt. When this happens, the all-important 5/1 ratio of positive to negative interactions isn’t met, and a love debt accrues.
Wise couples prepare for this by planning soft landings into their day, month, and year. Soft landings give couples opportunities to double up on their love-bank deposits. Although this may not sound romantic, creating intentional space to return to a minimum of five positive interactions to every negative one is a researched-based way to renew love!
2. How to Grow as a Couple with Connectication
A second reason soft landings work is they give couples the opportunity to connecticate. Connectication, is an ingenious word, invented by my friend Gil Stuart. It’s a combination of the words connection and communication. According to Psychology Today, “communication-based reasons” are one of the top reasons couples seek professional help. However, contrary to popular belief, most couples don’t have communication problems as much as they have connection problems.
Although some couples don’t know how to communicate clearly, it’s more common for couples to communicate clearly but still not agree. These couples are stuck in gridlock. This is when each person knows what the other wants (i.e., the communication is clear), yet the issue is still not resolved. Remember, we’ve already seen that 69 percent of relationship problems are unsolvable.
Happy couples know how to step away from issues to renew love.
Connectication in Action
Connectication is any communication that draws a couple closer and is a common ingredient in soft landings. Simply stated, connectication is light-hearted and fun. Couples can connecticate by:
- Playing a board game together.
- Walking, hand-in-hand.
- Sipping coffee by a cozy fire.
- Watching a movie and snuggling close.
- Going on a hike.
- During road trips.
The connectication possibilities are endless. In 1976, the band Nazareth released the song Love Hurts. Nazareth almost got things right. The truth is, it’s not love that hurts, but being disconnected from someone we long to be close to that does. A close connection to our loved one is so important to the human experience that the anterior cingulate (or the part of our brain responsible for acute pain perception) lights up when we are in both physical and emotional pain. In other words, our brain can’t tell the difference between the two. Being disconnected from our loved ones does, indeed, hurt!
Soft landings provide couples an unencumbered opportunity to reconnect and heal from emotional pain. Because disconnection hurts, creating space to grow closer as a couple and renew love is a must!
3. How to Renew Love with Into-Me-See
A third reason that soft-landings are important is that they provide couples with the opportunity to renew love by creating moments of intimacy. I define intimacy as into-me-see. It’s the ability to peer into our loved one’s inner world while also allowing our own hearts to be known. Into-me-see is a mutual give and take. It involves listening deeply—so deeply it can almost be felt—and asking thought-provoking questions that draw your partner out.
Human beings are designed for relationships. There is no greater feeling than to be known deeply and loved fully—flaws and all. Into-me-see creates trust and security. And, it can lead to intimacy—the physical stuff. So don’t dismiss this idea of creating soft landings to increase into-me-see, too quickly.
Balancing Connectication and Into-me-see
Into-me-see differs from connectication in that it is a deeper form of communication. It’s been said that men prefer to do relationships side-by-side, while women like to do them face-to-face. Although this stereotyping isn’t entirely accurate, it is the norm. Guys like to connect on the basketball court and while watching football games. They laugh, joke, and bond by doing life together.
Women, on the other hand, dive into deep conversations on the phone and over coffee. Typically, men place a higher value on connectication, while women place a higher value on into-me-see. Into-me-see, however, is intense. And too much of it can lead to feelings of overwhelm. On the other hand, a relationship built only on connecticaion will remain shallow. This is why both are needed.
Soft landings allow couples time to renew love and grow closer together by alternating between these two valuable types of communication.
Different Types of Soft Landings
To renew love and grow closer as a couple, we believe that couples should focus on three types of soft landings; daily, monthly, and yearly. Daily soft landings are shorter interactions and are important for daily maintenance. Remember, connection is not a nicety. It’s a biological human need.
In Genesis 2:18, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Of course, being alone isn’t good for women either. Human beings are God-designed to connect. And this isn’t just in marriage. We need friends, family, and our spouses. One of my favorite college professors often said, “The loneliest people in America are not single adults. They are the married couples, who fall asleep back-to-back each night, wondering When will the pain end?” He’s right!
Isolation is not just about not having people around. Having one’s spouse nearby but emotionally distant can feel incredibly isolating. Even more so than having a connected loved one travel out of state.
9 Relationship Tips for Your Love Journey
Daily soft-landings are about renewing love each day through small touch-points. Weekly soft landings are about growing closer by creating longer periods of connection. Finally, quarterly and yearly soft-landings are about creating larger amounts of time just for the two of you. Now, let’s dive deeper by examining some specific strategies to renew love in each of these three areas!
Love Habits to Renew Love Daily
Renewing love daily is all about forming mini love habits. The ultimate aim of forming a love habit is to reach automaticity. This is when a habit is performed without thought. It is so integrated into who you are that it just happens. While this may not sound romantic, think about the implications. When connection happens without thought, longstanding relationship arguments are nearly impossible. Couples who create a regular routine of soft landings become so bonded in their love habits that happily connected is simply the norm. This is an amazing place to be in your relationship!
1. Grow Closer with a Morning Coffee Routine
In relationships, the little things are big things. While suggesting that couples do morning coffee together doesn’t sound like ingenious relationship advice, don’t discount this wisdom too fast. According to the research, happy, stable couples have five positive interactions for every negative one. Couples who enjoy morning coffee together create a pattern of starting each day with a positive connection win. This sets the tone for the rest of the day.
2. Renew Love with Daily “Us Time”
Couples who have “us time” after the kids are in bed end the day on a high note. Ephesians 4:26 says, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Early in our marriage, Jenny decided that the end of the day would be reserved for us as a couple. We are now eight years into this pattern, and ending the day on a sour note is almost impossible.
On rare occasions, there is lingering tension, and both Jenny and I feel lost. Evenings are when we connect, and doing anything else just feels weird. Couples who start the day with morning coffee and end the day with “us time” not only start and end on a high note, but they also create a pattern where happily connected is the norm. Being disconnected rarely happens because it just feels weird!
3. Dive into Couple’s Books to Stay Connected on Your Love Journey
Before Jenny and I married, we went through a book of conversation starters. After we married, we read through several devotionals for couples. Whether you’re asking each other questions, doing a devotional, or simply reading the same book and talking about it, books are another excellent way to connect. If you’re looking for some ideas, here are a few couples books we wrote and a few more we love.
- 131 Creative Conversations for Couples: Jenny and I had so much fun going through a book of conversation starters for couples before we married that we later wrote one of our own. These creative couples’ questions will help you grow closer, renew your love, and develop intimacy on your love journey!
- Joyfully Married: What would happen if you decided to focus on growing closer for 30 straight days? Joyfully Married combines relationship wisdom with a couple’s journal to help you and your loved one apply the power of the compound effect to your bond.
- I Declare: Although I Declare is not officially a devotional for couples, Jenny and I had a blast going through this book. It’s inspiring, hopeful, and provides excellent conversations for your love journey!
Love Habits to Renew Love Weekly
4. Renew Love with a Regular Date Night
Although suggesting couples institute a weekly date night sounds like returning to the same obligatory relationship advice for couples, there truly is a reason for bringing this up again. Do you remember the Rocky movies? How about the original Karate Kid trilogy? During the fight training scenes, the instructors (at least the good ones) always teach the hero to return to the basics. Regular date nights are basic love habits that work. Disconnected couples think to themselves. Yes, I already know this and search for more profound relationship wisdom. Happy couples implement this steady connection time and grow closer in their love as a result. Be a happily connected couple by doing the types of things that happily connected couples do. Amongst them is regular date night!
5. Grow Closer with Game Nights
Game nights are all about connectication. They are an excellent way for couples to enjoy being in one another’s presence. Having a couple’s game night is an excellent way to do your relationship side-by-side (which we guys especially appreciate). Sometimes this leads to deeper conversation, and at other times it simply allows you and your loved one to reconnect. Remember, happy couples have a healthy combination of deep intimacy and joyful fun in their love journey. A game night is an excellent way to do both.
6. Strengthen Your Love Journey by Walking Together
Having grown up in San Diego, Jenny and I have passed by couples in their 60’s and 70’s still happily strolling on the beach, hand-in-hand. Most couples I know want to be like those couples. Not now, of course, but wouldn’t it be amazing to be that older couple who is still crazy in love, one day? Don’t wait! If your goal is to be the couple in their 70s or 80s who still strolls down the beach, hand-in-hand, then start this simple love habit now!
Love Habits to Renew Love Yearly
7. Renew Love with Anniversary Trips
A yearly anniversary trip may be one of the easiest soft landings to add to your routine. This love habit requires a little extra planning—but you will spend time planning for your anniversary anyway, right? You might think of this as the reset button on the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Remember having a bad game of Super Mario Brothers and simply hitting the reset button to start over. Couples need resets too. While exploring new places is fun, having a regular anniversary trip in the same spot creates a strong rest because it allows a stressed couple to easily fall back into their happily connected routine.
8. Grow as a Couple by Vision-Boarding
A vision board is simply a goal list with pictures. Hanging a vision board in a promenade place is supposed to engage the power of the subconscious mind. While I haven’t fully bought into this idea, I know that Scripture states that without vision, the people perish (Proverbs 28:19). I also know that Jenny and I are delightfully surprised at how often our shared vision comes to pass. For Christ-followers, it may help to think of a vision board as a prayer with pictures. I truly believe that God honors our dreams when we commit them to Him. Plus, creating a poster board full of shared dreams and goals is an excellent way for couples to stay on their love journey together.
9. Add Quarterly Meetings to Your Love Journey
Quarterly meetings are tiny love habits I first heard about from John Meese. While I’ve participated in company off-sites before, the idea of including one’s spouse in a quarterly meeting was new to me. Of course, this makes sense. With the rise of small businesses, having a quarterly offsite with one’s wife is a logical next step. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to this. The best way to start is simply to combine a date night with a small business meeting. This soft landing isn’t for everyone, but if you have any sort of side hustle at all, then bringing your loved one into your dreams is important. The quarterly meeting for couples is a chance to connect, share your heart for your business (as entrepreneurs, we are certainly passionate about what we do), and have fun. Likely, your spouse will appreciate being included in your small business or side-hustle planning, more than you realize.
Dive Deeper into Your Love Journey
Use the questions below for further reflection and discussion. Or keep the conversation going on growing closer as a couple in the comments below.
- On a scale of 1-10, how close do you feel to your loved one today? A 1 means distant a 10 is incredibly close.
- What does renewing love in your relationship mean to you?
- How good are you at intimacy when it’s defined as into-me-see? Are you able to connect, listen, and ask thought-provoking questions that allow you to peer into your loved one’s inner world?
- If you took additional steps to grow closer and renew your love today, what might that look like in your relationship?
- What are some kind actions that fill up your love bank the most?
- What types of things fill up your partner’s love bank? Do you know?
- How would you best describe your love bank right now? Are you in debt, barely scraping by, or do you have an abundance, and why?
- What soft landings do you already have built into your relationship?
- Which of the strategies for growing closer and renewing love have you already tried?
- Which soft landing idea would you like to add to your relationship routine?
- What love habits do you already have, and what new love habits would you like to form?
- What thoughts or ideas would you add to this post?
Now it’s your turn. Keep the conversation going in the comments below. Jenny and I read every one personally, and we can’t wait to hear from you!
Jen and I are thrilled you stopped by! Kind words and coffee fuel this blog. If you enjoyed our thoughts on How to Grow as a Couple, help us keep this great content coming. Let us know how you renew your love and what ideas you would add to this list. Or use the buy us a coffee button to help fund our next project. To dive even deeper, check out our books and resources for couples. Jen and I are passionate about helping couples create happy marriages. Know we honestly couldn’t do this without amazing readers like you!