It is a fact of life that all relationships run the danger of allowing themselves to go on auto-pilot. Instead of working to improve things, we just start to rely on “ok” and if it’s not broken, why fix it?
However, in my experience as a therapist and as a husband, it is always better to work on keeping a relationship fresh and to add a little sparkle every once in a while. And while most people will look at the title and assume this article is about livening up their sex lives – I’m actually going to be talking about something deeper: intimacy. Because, when we improve our connection to one another by polishing our relationships, the physical aspect of things seems to follow naturally.
Here are 5 tips that can make all the difference.
Do something that they wouldn’t expect in a million years. Everybody likes surprises and you can be really creative with this one. A small gift, sign you both up for dance lessons, arrange baby sitting services and whisk them off for weekend away – anything, just make it a surprise and focused on what they like to do.
I had one client who was quite shy, surprise his wife by taking her to a karaoke bar and getting up and singing her a love song that he had practiced. Another client knew her husband really missed hanging out with his friends, so she called his buddies and worked with them to arrange a ‘guys golfing weekend’. When her husband got home on Friday night, she had packed his suitcase and had his clubs ready by the door – he was blown away.
Try to remember the last time you put a REALLY big smile on your partner’s face. And then do that again. I’m always surprised when a couple will say something like, “Remember that time when spent the day in the park? That was amazing. We haven’t done that in years.”
Try to think of the last time you really pleased your partner. Maybe it was when you went to a special restaurant or event. Or maybe it was when you wrote them a love letter or came home in the middle of the day for a quickie. If you think about it, you will remember something that really made them smile – do it again!
Appreciation is key to all healthy relationships and it’s one of the things I see very little of. And it costs nothing! When was the last time you just thanked your wife for all that she has done or maybe just something specific that you noticed. We all rely on routine, and too many times we get up from the table without thanking the person that made the meal. It’s just what the “do” – it’s part of her division of labor. But it’s important to acknowledge those things.
Spend some time thinking of what your partner does for you or your family. I guarantee that if you thank them for one thing every day, it will turn your relationship around.
I’m not talking about the big topic of “communication skills” – I’m talking about the little things. It is important to bring your partner along on your thoughts. I can’t tell you how many times a couple will sit in a counseling session and say something like: “I had no idea you thought that.” or “I didn’t realize you went shopping last week.”
Keep your partner informed. Just let them know what you are thinking. Text and emails are perfect for this – allowing you to touch base quickly.
“Heading to the grocery – need anything?”
“Saw Jim at work today, he’s as crazy as ever!”
“Heard that traffic was bad this morning, did you get to work ok?”
See? Just little things to touch base and let them know you are thinking of them.
And you get a big bang for your buck with a little text that says:
“Thinking of you and hoping your days is going well. Can’t wait to see you tonight!”
If you employ just a few of these practices, your marriage will have a bit more glow to it and you will feel closer to your partner. Try it!