May 6, 2021

To Move Forward in Love, you Have to Know Where you Are. {Partner}

This article is written in partnership with Relish—they’re dedicated to helping us build happy, healthy, more connected relationships, and we’re honored to work with them. ~ ed.

 

Let’s Begin at the Beginning.

His eyebrows. His charming cockiness. His laugh.

This is my answer to, “Write down the first three things you noticed about David.” 

I’ve just signed up for the relationship app, Relish. David and I are not in a good place. 

First, I take the Relationship Health Check and I’m a little horrified, though not entirely surprised, to see that we’re in the “red zone.” Oh boy, have we got some work to do! 

According to the results from our assessment, our biggest issue is communication. As the in-app summary explains, “Many experts consider communication to be the touchstone to overall relationship health.” We’re paired with a coach and given a set of tailor-made lessons designed to help us improve communication through honesty, openness, and understanding. 

The first lesson is titled, “Let’s Begin at the Beginning,” and it concludes with the above exercise.

I haven’t thought about these things for a long time. I go back in my mind to a different reality, and two different people from the ones we are today. I picture his 22-year-old self. I remember our first kiss. Though I still love him nearly 20 years together, 13 years married, and two children later…I try to recall what “falling in love” felt like.

I click “Share with David.” Later on, he replies with his three things. I laugh when I read them and a particular warmth flickers in my chest—one I haven’t had there for a while. 

This is the beginning of finding our way back to one another.

Over the following weeks, we become motivated to “Relish” more and more. (Yep, it’s become a common verb in our house now.) Did you Relish today? 

It’s eye-opening and fun and intriguing to learn about our attachment styles and love languages, to do the quizzes and compare notes, to receive supportive touch-in messages from our coach, to send each other little messages of appreciation—to connect and open up with one another.

Relationships. That’s what really matters.

Build a happy, healthy, more connected relationship.

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Relish is the toolkit we didn’t know we needed to bridge the distance that grew between us while we weren’t paying attention. Not only that, but through these seemingly simple daily lessons and exercises, we are able to make sense of and get over things we’ve been stuck on repeat with for years—even after actual therapy.

Things like…finally mastering the art of having a tough conversation (one that doesn’t end in a total blow-up, or requires a therapist to mediate, even if we don’t agree entirely), and bicker-proofing our relationship to the point where I can’t recall the last time our two boys said, “Stop arguing!” Our sex life has always been a fairly reliable barometer when it comes to our relationship, and that’s looking a heckuva lot healthier of late.

I love the way David gets to the root of how and why this app has been so helpful for us:

“What I like about Relish is that if you have been together for a whileor even if not, but you’ve gotten to that place where it’s difficult to get past whatever is bugging you—it helps to sort out what is necessary to talk about and what is more necessary to let go.

It makes you think about the things you’re hanging onto and whether they’re worth pursuing. Because, a lot of the time, we just get stuck in our own heads and with our own emotional baggage. Relish helped me realize that in order to go forward we need to look at how we can complement one another and help each other have a better conversation, even if it’s one we might not want to have.” 

So, what exactly is Relish and how can it help our relationships?

At first, as someone who’s seen the benefits of professional therapy and coaching at various points in my life, I was a little skeptical of just how helpful an app could possibly be for my relationship. 

After all, every relationship is as unique and complex as the people in it, right? But I was also curious…

Relish has been selected as Apple’s “App of the Day” three times, been featured in Good Housekeeping, Glam, Bustle, and Fast Company, and already has hundreds of thousands of users—for good reason.

This app has some serious expertise behind it, not only in terms of the advisors and coaches it puts you in touch with, or the cutting-edge relationship science it condenses down and serves it up to you in bite-sized chunks, but also the heavyweight street cred of its founder, Lesley Eccles.

Lesley is an award-winning veteran in the world of app development. She co-founded a now-well-known fantasy sports gaming company, FanDuel with her husband, Nigel. 

Sports Illustrated journalist, Albert Chen, even published a book called “Billion Dollar Fantasy,” about how they built FanDuel (and stayed married!).

Lesley says it was actually this “intensely stressful” experience in her relationship that sparked the idea for Relish. She started researching, speaking to a broad cross-section of relationship experts, and this was the beginning of the vast library of exclusive, custom-written content which Relish now offers. 

Launched in 2019, Relish takes couples on an individually-tailored learning journey that is based on 24 different relationship approaches and theories from all the top experts in the field, including attachment theory and love languages. (You can “Relish” on your own, but it’s much more effective to do it with your partner. It’s also free to add a partner account once you sign up.)

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While you take the Relish journey together, the lessons you receive are based on your individual responses, as well as your partner’s. You can also request particular lessons as you go and you can choose what you share with your partner and what you keep private to your account if you’re not yet ready to share some things. It’s all totally customizable to your needs and allows you to work on yourselvesboth as individuals and as a couple.

Relish is not designed to be an alternative to individual or relationship counseling. If you’ve got childhood trauma you need to deal with or some deep-seated dysfunction in your relationship, this is not going to replace therapy. It’s not so much about fixing what’s broken as it is about learning to understand yourself and one another better, so you can communicate from a place of awareness and empathy. 

Though, as a relatively emotionally and mentally healthy person who’s done both, I’d say Relish is arguably as effective, if not even more so in some ways—especially in terms of affordability, immediacy, and consistency. 

Just the fact that the lessons are so darn accessible and easy to digest took David and me from feeling as though our relationship was a frustration-layered chore at the end of an already long list of things to do…to feeling a renewed sense of curiosity and wanting to pay attention to one another. 

Months later, our “Relationship Health” is firmly back in the green zone and we still enjoy “Relishing” regularly.

It’s like our “relationship game”—one that actually nurtures and builds our connection in real life. 

 

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