Over the past few years I’ve compiled quite the collection of connection exercises that have helped couples from all walks of life increase their intimacy and sense of connectedness.
The couples that tend to flock towards coaching with me are not people who are on the brink of divorce but people who are already in a fairly good place and want to level up their intimate connection. They want to take their 8/10 relationship to a 10/10 relationship.
Here are six of my top connection exercises that my clients most consistently respond the best to. You can do the following in any order, for any length of time, and on a daily or weekly schedule.
(Side note: if you’re looking for this concept, but purely through verbal communication, check out this article on asking better questions for more depth in your relationship)
1. Soul Gazing
My clients aren’t the kind of people who half-ass things. And this one is definitely not for the faint of heart if you’re just beginning (beginners should try #3, or 6).
To engage in soul gazing, face each other in a seated position with your knees close to touching and hold eye contact for 3-5 minutes. Yes, you are allowed to blink. Yes, it may feel slightly awkward for the first 1-2 minutes if you’ve never tried this before. And yes, you should avoid talking during the exercise.
If the quiet is too uncomfortable for you, choose a 4-5 minute song and commit to holding the eye contact for the duration of the song.
In a world that is increasingly trying to grab our attention and distract us, this connection exercise is sure to efficiently re-spark the home fires. Doing this a few times per week will give you that slowed down connection you and your partner are looking for.
2. Extended Cuddle Time
So simple, yet so often ignored.
What is your bedtime routine? Do you distract yourselves with cell phones, laptops, or books? Do you rationalize that using those things helps you get to sleep? Well, the happy chemicals that get released in your brain from cuddling and/or sex help you get to sleep even easier.
Whether it’s close to your collective bedtime or not, having an extended cuddle session a few times per week does wonders for your intimate relationship.
A few of my clients cuddle to a certain music playlist that they know is a specific length of time (often 20-30 minutes) as their daily required minimum of physical affection. But that’s what works for them.
What would you like to see change in your bedtime routine? Think about it, talk to your partner about it, and then incorporate it into your lives as a non-negotiable connection habit.
3. The 7 Breath Forehead Connection Exercise
This one sounds slightly woo-woo, new-agey… but trust me… IT. IS. AWESOME!
Whether you’re lying on your sides or sitting upright, face each other directly and gently touch your foreheads together.
Put your chins down slightly so your noses aren’t quite touching (it’s okay if they touch a bit but touching noses is not necessary for this exercise).
With your foreheads touching, breathe seven deep, slow breaths in sync with your partner. Similar to the eye contact exercise the first one or two breaths might feel like they’re taking up a lot of conscious thought, but by the third or fourth breath it will feel like a very natural thing to do.
This exercise isn’t limited to seven breaths (you can keep going for several minutes if you’d like) but I find that seven breaths is the perfect minimum number of breaths for couples to really drop in to the moment and feel connected.
If you and your partner are overachievers who like extra homework you can absolutely do this exercise for several minutes if you feel so inclined.
4. Uninterrupted Listening
This is the first verbal exercise on the list, and for good reason. I think that in order to drop into our connection with our partner it’s beneficial to start with some non-verbal exercises. Exercises 4, 5, and 6 are verbal, and I would strongly recommend doing one or two of the aforementioned non-verbal exercises first before you start in with your words.
For this exercise, set a timer and let your partner say whatever they need to in order to vent to you. They can talk about their day, their career, how they feel about you, what’s been on their mind lately… whatever they feel like.
During their verbal brain dump, it is the receiver’s job to simply listen. The receiver doesn’t offer any advice or verbal feedback in any way. You just imagine your partner’s words as a flowing stream of emotion, and you soak it up.
You are free to give non-verbal listening cues with your eyes or body language. But the exercise as the receiver is to simply listen to whatever the speaker has to say. Once the timer has gone off, the roles switch and the other partner has their turn to speak in an uninterrupted stream of consciousness.
One partner might be more verbal than the other, and that’s just fine. Often the partner who is quieter or in their head more of the time will welcome the chance to verbalize their thoughts without interruption because they might feel more frequently interrupted in their daily life (whether by their partner, friends, or co-workers, etc.)
5. The Weekly CEO Meeting
Do you and your partner have fairly busy lives?
A lot of communication errors can occur through the course of a week (unfinished arguments, unmet expectations, unheard desires).
Think of the weekly CEO meeting as a way to take out all of your unfinished business and hold it up to the light.
For this exercise, schedule a non-negotiable 30-minute connection block where you and your partner remove all distractions from your environment (phones, computers, children, etc.) and have a conversation like the intentional grownups you both are.
You can start with questions like “How do you feel about us today?”, “Is there anything you feel incomplete about from this past week that you would like to talk about?”, or “How can I make you feel more loved in the coming days?”
Or, full a full list of questions to help you go deep in your intimate relationship, you can check out this article here.
6. 5 Things… Go!
This is a personal favourite of mine because it’s quick, simple, and can be done anywhere.
Whenever you or your partner calls out your unique codeword or theme, you both go through “5 things” within a certain topic. Some common examples would be 5 things that you’re grateful about in your life, 5 things you love about your partner, or 5 things that you would love to do with your partner within the next few weeks.
You can either take turns counting out your five (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), or you can take alternating turns each round (1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5)
The versatility and playfulness of this exercise make it a total winner in my books. Get creative. The exercise and the numerous lists that you sound off are only limited by your imagination.
(Want more examples of themes? 5 things that would go into your perfect day. 5 things that inspire you about your partner. 5 things that you love that your partner has done for you lately. 5 things your partner has ever said that had a huge impact on you.)
Can You Inject Connection Into An Existing Relationship?
When I first suggest to some of my clients that they intentionally set aside time in their calendars to connect as a couple, I am sometimes met with resistance.
“We’re dating/we got married for a reason… shouldn’t we just feel connected automatically like we used to when we first started dating?”
While it’s a romantic concept that your relationship should fully run on autopilot, relationships thrive when you put effort into them. And yes, I’m sure you can get by just fine without doing any of the above exercises and have a ‘good’ relationship… but if you want a great relationship I’d recommend giving a few of the above exercises a try.
Worst case scenario, you lose a few seconds or a few minutes of your life on an exercise that didn’t do all that much for you. Best case scenario, you discover one of your new favourite things to do with your partner and it becomes an effortless and easy way to re-connect as a couple whenever you feel you may need it.