The 5 best techniques for being more present in your relationship

January 19,2021

Earlier this month, I shared with you that Xander has been more present in our relationship than he ever has before. 

We both want to keep these good habits going, so we’ve been trying to identify the specific things we’ve been doing to stay more present with each other. 

Today I want to share with you the 5 techniques Xander and I are using to be more present with each other.

Technique #1: Acknowledging each other’s presence

When your partner comes into the room you’re in, acknowledge them! Look up from your phone, the computer, or the TV, make eye contact with them, smile, and say hi! 

It’s shockingly easy for me to not acknowledge Xander’s presence. Usually I’m in the middle of something and don’t make eye contact even if he starts talking to me. 

This is especially easy to do at the end of the night. I get ready for bed faster than Xander does, so by the time he comes into our room, I’m typically lost in my phone. 

I started thinking about how strange it is to not even acknowledge the presence of the person I love the most in this world. 

Plus, when we don’t even acknowledge our partner’s presence, we miss so many opportunities for connection!

I’ll never forget the look on Xander’s face the first time I tried this. I was laying in bed. When he walked into the room, I made eye contact, gave him a big smile, and said, “Hey babe!” He was surprised, and looked around as if I must be looking at someone behind him! 

Now, we’re both jumping on those tiny moments of connection. It just takes a few seconds to acknowledge each other, but it makes us both smile and feel loved. 

Technique #2: Having deeper conversations

When Xander and I first met, we spent HOURS talking about everything and nothing. It felt like there was never enough time to talk about the things we wanted to talk about. 

As the years marched on, those kinds of conversations started to feel harder to come by. We’d have plenty of transactional conversations about schedules or the weather, and longer and longer stretches of silence. 

These days, Xander and I are putting effort into getting that conversational spark back. We’re asking each other better questions, and making more space for more thoughtful responses. 

And to get the conversation going, we have a little gift for you!

30 Intimacy-Building Questions All Couples Must Ask Each Other!

Technique #3: Setting intentions for time together

Tell me if this sounds familiar… you decide to watch TV with your partner. You get cosy on the couch, and put on your favorite show. 

But a few minutes later, you look over and see your partner scrolling through Instagram. You get annoyed that they’re on their phone instead of watching the show with you. 

So you take your phone out to look through your own account… right as your partner puts theirs away. 

And then a few minutes later, you can tell that your partner is getting frustrated with you for being on your phone!

It’s maddening! 

Lately, when Xander and I spend time together, we’ve been asking each other, “What do you want out of this time?” 

Sometimes one of us will respond, “I just want to zone out for a bit.” Other times one of us will say, “I’d love your complete and undivided attention.” It’s really nice to get super clear with each other on what we’re looking for! 

Notice that we leave the space for disconnected time too! 

We both know that we can’t be 100% present, 100% of the time. It’s OK to want time to zone out.

I’ll be honest – it feels a little clunky being SO intentional sometimes, but the end result is a whole lot better. We give ourselves space when we want solo time or zoning out time. And we have a whole lot more time being present with each other too! 

Technique #4: Being clear about our roles

Xander and I play multiple roles with each other – spouse, lover, friend, business partner, pug parent, co-household manager, and more. 

In the past, we’d careen around between roles. We’d be talking about business stuff, then immediately go into some household responsibilities that needed to be taken care of, then try to plan a date night. 

It made conversations feel confusing and murky.

And it definitely felt challenging to be romantic or sexy after talking about the dog poop that needed to be picked up outside or leftovers that needed to be eaten!

So we’ve been really purposeful about what we’re asking for from each other. We’ll ask, “Can I talk to my coworker right now?” or, “Can we talk about a relationship thing right now?” 

We’ve also scheduled specific weekly meetings to talk about household chores, finances, and work stuff. We named them funny names, like “The Marin Manor Staff Meeting”, to keep it light. Now I don’t feel like I have to bug or nag Xander to do things all throughout the week, because I know there’s a specific container for us to talk about it!

Technique #5: More skin to skin contact

I left my favorite for last! 

First thing every morning and last thing every night, Xander and I have been making sure to spend a few minutes cuddling in bed together.

And – bonus tip – we make sure to get in some real kisses! Not just chaste little pecks on the lips. We’re talking full-blown make-out kissing! 

It’s so simple, but it makes such a huge impact! 


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I'm Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist and writer specializing in helping you have more fun in the bedroom.

I have bachelor’s degrees in human sexuality and sociology from Brown University, and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies. I’m also a licensed psychotherapist. I’ve been working in the sex therapy field since 2002 and have been featured by The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, and many more.

If you’re interested in improving your sex life, you can work with me via my online courses or personal coaching sessions. I look forward to supporting you in creating the sex life you’ve always wanted!