Many of us were fortunate enough to have had the support of fathers and grandfathers during our childhood — men who showed us what it was to be kind, generous and loving. Men who were always there for us.
You may be fortunate enough today to have a husband or partner in your life with similar qualities, who is taking on the monumental task of parenthood with you to instill your family’s values in your child or children.
This Father’s Day, here are four powerful ways to let your partner know just how loved he is… These ideas go beyond a new backyard barbecue or a shiny new tool set and remind us what Father’s Day is really about.
#1 – Take some time off
Remember when it was just you and him?
We love our kids. But they can be pretty rough on relationships.
In fact, author, therapist and desire expert Esther Perel calls babies the "fatal erotic blow" to a relationship. (Ouch.)
Esther’s research shows that couples experience greater intimacy (and have better sex) when they take time to live their identities beyond that of “mother”, “father”, “husband” and “wife”. We are most drawn to our partners when we see them as confident and self-sustaining. But in the busyness of day-to-day life, we rarely get to see that side of each other.
This Father’s Day, call the babysitter and go back to your favorite bar, restaurant or hangout. Trigger the memory of what it was like when it was just you and him — and everything was possible.
#2 - Plan a BIG surprise
As it turns out, surprises, such as surprise parties, are big for a biological reason.
In a 2008 study, researchers used what's known as an "oddball" experiment to measure the impact of surprise on the human brain. Subjects were shown a series of the same images and had to pinpoint the odd one out. Some oddball images were pretty neutral, others were highly emotional.
The most interesting finding was that the response from the brain's “novelty center" scaled to match how "novel" the oddball image was. Neutral images got a small response, emotional images got a bigger response.
Many psychologists and neuroscientists will tell you that an element of spontaneity is great for your relationship. So celebrate your partner by literally lighting up their brain with a big surprise.
Here are a few ideas you can try:
- Write a message to your partner (romantic, funny, kinky – your call!) and hide it somewhere he can’t miss it, like in his shoe or the sun visor of his car.
- Plan a surprise activity to try something new together – just the two of you or your whole family – such as biking, rock climbing or even bowling.
- Send the kids off to a friend or family member and surprise him with a romantic meal or impromptu date night for just the two of you.
#3 - Share a favorite memory
Fred Bryant is a professor of psychology at Loyola University and the creator of the concept of savoring in positive psychology.
According to Fred, "Nostalgia is a special kind of reminiscence. I’m convinced it is a form of mental time travel, to be able to go into our past, and bring those feelings into our present."
What could be better than reliving the buzz of your first date? Or those bittersweet moments when the kids were little?
Give your partner something tangible, like a small photo album or collage, to help them reconnect with those feelings. Short on time? Don't worry. A simple email with a forgotten photo dug out from deep within your digital files will also do the trick.
#4 - Put your phone down
In her book, The Village Effect: How Face-to-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier and Happier, Susan Pinker reveals that no matter how much we love Facebook, nothing can replace our intrinsic need for in-person interaction.
According to Susan, "Research shows that playing cards once a week or meeting friends every Wednesday night at Starbucks adds as many years to our lives as taking beta blockers or quitting a pack-a-day smoking habit."
So put down your phone and focus your attention on your partner. Invite your partner to a romantic dinner and agree to leave your phones in the car. Even simple things such as making eye contact, sharing a high-five or a quick peck on the cheek may help lower their cortisol level, release a little dopamine and make them feel great.Got any ideas of your own? Drop us a comment with your favorite.