Relationships are like plants – if you don’t pour a little fresh water from time to time, they wither.
Steamy sessions become a mechanical in and out. Exciting dates turn into Netflix and chill. Convenience and comfort replace excitement.
Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you can stop seducing, flirting, and wooing. It merely begins – or so it should.
It’s hard to keep things fresh and exciting when the honeymoon phase is over and you have a demanding job, day-to-day chores, and screaming kids around the house. But you don’t need hours upon hours to keep your relationship happy.
From my experience, a few simple things are enough to spice it up and keep your love plant from drying up.
Put This Special Event in Your Calendar Every Month
The most common relationship killers aren’t kids, weight gain, or monsters-in-law.
When your relationship becomes predictable, it gets about as exciting as watching a Marshmallow melt in the sun. You know who will cook dinner, pick up the kids, and what show you’ll watch on Saturday night. Week’s over, repeat.
No wonder psychologists found that focusing on novelty, variety, and surprise can help couples rekindle their love and feel closer again.
But most new ideas go into your “yeah, we should do that” box, next to all the other dreams that never came true.
So instead of saying you should do it, put it in your calendar.
Block one weekend per month in advance – get a babysitter, wipe all responsibilities, and take the next day off. When it comes, go and do something you’ve always wanted to do together. You can even turn it into a fun game.
One of my exes and I wrote down our ideas on little notes – color-coded for categories like indoor, outdoor, free, and good weather. Then, we put them in jars and randomly pulled one out when we wanted to try something new. Here are a few suggestions to get your creative juices flowing:
- Take a cooking class
- Visit a city you’ve always wanted to see
- Count shooting stars at night
- Write a short letter to each other
- Make cocktails together
Routine provides the basic ingredients like morning coffees and goodnight kisses. Doing something novel adds the spices that make your dish unforgettable.
“There is a distinction between a relationship which has a routine and a relationship which becomes routine.” — Johnny Rich
Most couples spend a lot of “basic” time together – getting up in the morning and having breakfast, eating dinner at night and going to bed. They take their partner for granted.
A friend of mine travels the world together with his wife. A few months ago, they had to spend four weeks apart since she did a yoga course in a different country. While he missed her dearly, he said it was a great experience because they both learned to appreciate the small things about each other’s presence again.
Their love grew through it.
You don’t have to spend four weeks meditating in a Tibetan temple, but carving out a little time for yourself works wonders.
A night with the boys, sleeping over at a friend’s place, or doing a city trip or short vacation on your own.
Yes, you’ll miss your partner – that’s the point.
Give yourself the chance to appreciate and your love the chance to grow.
This Little Gesture Will Make a Huge Difference (If You Do It Regularly)
Appreciation is like sleep – you can go without it for a while, but the less of it you get, the more irritated and less willing to do something you become.
No wonder a meta-study of over 11,000 couples listed it as one of the top five predictors of relationship quality.
Most people love to do something nice for their partner. But unfortunately, lots of partners take it for granted, especially the little things.
The morning coffee. Doing the dishes. A little backrub after a long day.
If you let these things slip by without appreciation, your partner won’t feel seen and valued. But if you recognize them, you’ll create a deeper connection and motivation to continue.
The misconception most people have is that appreciation and gratitude have to be about something new every day. They don’t.
Appreciation is not a creativity exercise, it’s an appreciation exercise.
So what if you tell your partner for the tenth time that you appreciate it when they’re vulnerable, made you tea, or did the shopping because you were too busy?
If that’s what’s on your mind, say it. The thing itself doesn’t matter. Honestly thanking your partner for their effort does.
“Recognition is a reward in itself. Any form of appreciation, even a small word, is important.” – Vikrant Massey
Sit down together once a month and talk about how you feel. Here are some guiding questions:
- Were you happy with how things went this month?
- Is there something you’ve held back that you would like to express?
- Is there anything you wish for from your partner?
- Is there anything that makes you feel hurt?
- What are you grateful for this month with your partner?
- What actions/moments/insights made you feel connected?
- What actions/moments/insights made you feel disconnected?
- How can I love you better this month?
Pro-tip: Write down your answers in a relationship journal. It’s fun, helps you structure your thoughts, and you can go back and laugh about old times.
Summary To Keep Your Relationship Happy and Fulfilling
Even the best relationship needs constant effort – that’s what makes it great.
- Block one weekend per month to do something new and exciting.
- Spend some time alone every two to three months instead of taking each other’s presence for granted.
- Appreciate something about your partner every night.
- Reflect on your relationship regularly with some deep questions and a relationship journal.