Although there is no model of key elements for its realization, s**xual and couple psychology offers an exceptional behavioral technique to achieve happiness for two: the sharing of pleasurable activities.
Many people wonder what the ingredients are in a real lasting love potion. What is the key to well-being in the couple? How to make the relationship work for a long time? The truth is that there are no constant and pathognomonic variables to obtain a satisfactory relationship. Nonetheless, and although all people are different, the psychology of couples and s**xuality establishes certain steps that can be taken to achieve well-being in a relationship. This is the case with enjoyable activities and their impact on the members of the couple. This is what we explain in detail below.
When problems hit the couple
S**xual problems, stress, children, family reconciliation, work, money problems… so many conflicts that can have an impact on the well-being of the couple. These factors, or a combination of them, can leave an imprint on the interactions of couple members in many ways.
For example, they may get angry, move away emotionally, reject each other, decrease communication, etc. However, in almost all cases, couples stop doing things with each other.
When pleasurable activities are suppressed, the problem tends to get worse. This removal can be not only the consequence of a larger problem, but also the heart of another conflict.
This is because there is a suppression of reinforcements for both partners. They don’t do things together anymore, they don’t share the things they used to do. They no longer have conversations or they no longer go to their favorite restaurant.
Reinforcers and affinities in the couple
Reinforcers are stimuli that make a behavior more likely to appear. For example, if a partner receives a kiss every time they cook something good, chances are that the next day they will try to cook something equally good again.
In this case, the reinforcer would be the kiss, which makes the appearance of good cooking behavior more likely. When you stop doing things as a couple, these reinforcers are less likely to occur.
If these pleasurable activities don’t take place, there are no reinforcers, and therefore these behaviors are much less likely to occur. Therefore, from the point of view of s**xual psychology and of the couple, performing pleasurable activities is considered an effective solution.
Couples generally meet by affinity. For this reason, it is customary that there are enjoyable activities that can be done together that act as reinforcers for both.
The goal is to reuse reinforcers that are no longer used. Just because they aren’t used doesn’t mean they’re obsolete. These reinforcers do not cease to function as such; they just took the dust.
Pleasant Activities: Behavioral or Emotional Solutions?
When we think of marital or relationship problems, we usually don’t think of the solution as behavioral, but rather emotional and cognitive. However, in therapy, it is normal to use both.
Of course, it is important to address issues such as partner norms, beliefs about close relationships, or unreal and irrational expectations and attributions. It is vital to enter into these aspects in order to achieve marital adjustment and communication patterns, as well as to improve s**xual relations.
However, pleasurable activities are part of a series of behavioral strategies – sometimes overlooked – that have enormous benefits. In addition, these fruits obtained from behavioral techniques can undoubtedly motivate the couple, make them see that all couples work if behaviors are changed, and that they continue to work to achieve their well-being.
How to increase reinforcers?
In addition to engaging in enjoyable activities, other behavioral strategies can be implemented to enable effective and lasting change in the couple.
Pleasant activities for the well-being of the couple
When a relationship has deteriorated, it is very difficult for both partners to want to do things together. This is the main problem with enjoyable activities. That’s why it helps to start with small things. If a couple has not been away for more than eight months on vacation, a trip to Panama for a fortnight may not be appropriate.
However, small activities that are heartwarming for either or both of the couple can be a good idea: walking the dogs, baking, buying bread together, etc. Simple activities that can generate reinforcers. As you go, you can suggest having dinner together at your favorite restaurant, going to the movies, or having a party with yourselves.
You will usually see reinforcers from these activities, which will affect the likelihood of these activities happening again. Many couples who are in couples therapy, with a very deteriorated relationship, do enjoyable activities on their own after doing the first ones. They are the ones who take the initiative to go from buying bread to having dinner together, without the therapist saying it.
The latter is just one example of the usefulness of behavioral techniques at the start of couples therapy: the first thing to do is to look for reinforcers.
Special days: one day to stimulate for the other by pleasant activities
Another way to build reinforcements without a particular activity dominating is to use the Special Day technique. This is useful if the couple are unwilling to do anything together or if they don’t have time. On special days, both partners are invited to devote one day of the week to strengthening the other. The two days may not coincide, but they both know which days are special days.
Although at the first stage there is suspicion – because it can be perceived as something abnormal or forced – quite often couples tend to feel good. When given reinforcements – from comments, conversations, actions – people tend to feel satisfied.
When you give reinforcers, you usually get reinforcers in return. This is an idea that both partners should keep in mind. One often generalizes the strengthening is often because both are feeling better. Although this technique does not resolve conflicts, it does serve to increase satisfaction.
Observation of positive aspects to promote the well-being of the couple
Another behavioral technique that can be used in addition to enjoyable activities is observation of the positive. While there are positive things, things that we liked or attracted to us, when a relationship deteriorates, they end up becoming more blurry. We no longer notice them.
Observation of the positive also seeks the increase of reinforcers through the communication of aspects that the other member of the couple likes. From a physical, psychological or daily point of view – ” today the meal was excellent ” – it is a question of each day saying three positive things. Ideally, these three things should be communicated in the evening for ten or fifteen minutes each day.
As we have seen, there are no concrete keys to a happy couple. However, all couples can potentially function with behavioral and cognitive changes. These changes go hand in hand, that is, behavioral techniques can lead to cognitive changes and vice versa. For this reason, it is important to know both and know how to apply them in order to achieve well-being in a couple.