Have you ever gone out to a restaurant and watched couples spend an entire meal looking at other tables, not talking to one another? I have.
Not talking doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in a bad relationship, but it might mean that your relationship has gone stale.
Maybe you’ve been together a while or have fallen into a routine, but most likely, it’s because you, your partner, or both of you have stopped feeling excited in your relationship.
I hate to break it to you, but it’s possible your relationship is actually making you tired.
Want your relationship to keep you energized? Try out my four go-to techniques.
1. Take Inventory
When I came across this exercise in Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix, I knew it was a keeper. The idea is for you and your partner to take an inventory — or at least that’s what I’m calling it — of your actions at different stages in your relationship.
Grab a piece of paper and answer these three questions.
1. I feel loved and cared about when you… These are things your partner already does that make you feel loved and cared for. Get specific like “buy me chocolate” or “snuggle on the couch.”
2. I used to feel loved and cared about when you… Usually, these are things from the early and romantic stage of a relationship. Are there behaviors that you used to do for each other that you no longer do?
3. I would like you to… Now think about loving and caring behaviors that you have always wanted, but never asked for. Perhaps it’s “take me out once a month” or “sleep nude with me sometimes.”
This is something both you and your partner can do. Then share them with each other.
The key is to listen to the other person, but also to think realistically about what commitments you can make. If you promise to do something, and then don’t follow through with it, resentment can set in. Believe me, it’s better if you’re both honest with what you can and can’t do from the start.
By going through this exercise, you become more intimate with one another. It allows you to express your own desires to your partner, and it gives you the very important opportunity to learn how to better support them.
The more intimacy there is in a relationship, the stronger the bond of the couple. And what better way to recharge your relationship than feeling safe enough to express your wants and needs?
If you both go in with an open mind and an honest intent, the relationship can really grow and strengthen through this exercise.
2. Small Gestures of Appreciation
An unexpected gesture to make your partner smile can go a long way in keeping the energy alive in your relationship.
For example, once or twice a week, I send an afternoon e-mail to my partner, telling him how I feel about him.
Think about it: When you’re halfway through a rough day and you still have to slog through a couple hours more, wouldn’t it be nice to get an e-mail that said “Wow, I think you’re wonderful?”
The goal of the e-mail is to let my partner know he’s appreciated. Many times it’s five lines that start with thank you: Thank you for doing the dishes, thank you for listening, thank you for giving stellar hugs. Other times it’s “I love my boyfriend because….”
There are many small gestures you can incorporate into your relationship to show your partner that you appreciate them:
- Surprise outings: dinner reservations, concert tickets, trip to the museum, walking in the park.
- Telling your partner one thing you like about them during the day: I like how you yawn in the morning, I love how you stand in front of the closet and decide what you’re going to wear, I think you rock.
- If you know it’s going to be a long day for your partner, do something to make their lives easier when they get home: clean the dishes in the sink, pick up towels on the floor, order food from their favorite restaurant, or make their favorite meal.
The more we ask ourselves what we can do to appreciate our partners throughout the day, the more present we are in our relationship and the better equipped we are to keep it light and loving.
What’s the best part about starting a new relationship? Flirting. Making eyes at one another, maybe sparking a bit of competition, smiling and laughing at witty comebacks.
Flirting is what most people crave because it makes us feel alive. We feel wanted, fun, and sexy — after even an hour of flirting, we’re suddenly singing new theme songs as we make our way through the world.
Simply put, flirting feels good. And if your relationship doesn’t feel good, adding flirting back into the mix can help. It says “I like you, I think you’re fun, I want to get to know you.”
My partner and I have started something we like to call “Flirty Fridays,” which is pretty much what it sounds like. Sure, sometimes we have to remind each other of it, and maybe the flirtatious interaction only lasts for dinner, but a little is better than none.
I understand that there are things our partners can do at times that drive us batty, get us frustrated, and bring us to the verge of tears. Some days can feel like a constant critique, and a quick hug is met with a “Not now” or a “What are you doing?”
But making sure we keep perspective is key in keeping our relationships fun.
It can be daunting to reassess your relationship and perspective full-time, so go easy on yourself and start with one day a week. One day a week, try letting go.
Today I don’t care that my partner cuts cucumbers differently than me or packs up the car inefficiently. Does it really matter that there’s toothpaste build up all over the sink or that they left their towel on the floor?
No. Today, it doesn’t matter.
Today it doesn’t matter because today is the day to enjoy my time with the person I’ve chosen to be with. Today it doesn’t matte, because I want to relax and let loose like I used to. Today it doesn’t matter because what does matter are the moments we have together.
Remind yourself that this relationship is to be enjoyed.
Cynthia Kane is a Contributing Writer for Everyday Feminism. Over the last year and a half, she’s relearned the following: how to jump up and down when she’s happy, cry when she’s sad, laugh when something’s funny, take a compliment, smile at strangers, and be open to the fact that everyone is going through it all the time. For more, visit her website or follow her on Twitter @cynkane. Read her articles here.