When we're young and in love, or in the early days of dating we make a real effort - we go out on more dates, we may travel, try new things with our partner and we're really quite creative in how we spend time together. If you're not into cooking for example, you may still make that effort as part of attracting and impressing our partner
As you settle into your relationship though it's easy to take your partner for granted and fall into comfortable (and boring) routines that can damage your relationship.
Signs that your relationship may be stuck in a rut and in need of a shakeup!
1. Doing the same old things day in, day out
2. Taking for granted all the little things your partner does for you
3. When your partner is talking to you, you tune out with social media, games, thoughts about work etc.
4. Your lives revolve around a never ending to do list
5. You rarely have quality time together - just the two of you
6. You relax together watching TV but you don't have many deep conversations together
7. You consistently prioritise work over your relationship
8. Your eyes start to stray - other people seem more exciting and you start thinking that maybe your partner just isn't "the one" for you
9. You don't socialise with friends any more as a couple
If you can relate to some of the above points, you may be feeling a bit unenthused about hanging out with your mate or not truly valuing that time you do have together.
While you might think that the problem is your partner, or that maybe you are just not as attracted to them anymore, the truth is that once the initial infatuation period has passed - it takes regular attention to keep your relationship alive and thriving.
If you're willing to give your relationship some regular attention, (think of it like watering a plant), it's amazing how you can start to experience your partner in new and interesting ways and deepen the bond between you.
Here's some suggestions to get you started!
1. Take the lead: instead of waiting to be asked if you want to do something, or neither of you initiating - take the lead. Book a concert, take your partner to a new restaurant as a surprise, offer your partner a massage when you see they are feeling tired, suggest an activity together. Leaders are attractive - so practice leading, even if you don't feel confident!
2. Schedule quality time / regular date nights: Couples need quality time together on a regular basis to strengthen and maintain their bonds. This is non negotiable if you want a happy relationship. Time when you stop talking about daily chores, work, problems & the kids - and you're just spend some quality time together. Where possible, leave home. Make date night a priority and stick to it.
3. Be cheeky: Laughing together, being goofy, surprising each other, cracking some puns or dad jokes, tickling your partner and laughing at their jokes (even the bad ones) are proven ways to feel more connected as a couple and happy in your relationship.
4. Pucker up: How do you kiss your partner? Is it a peck on the lips / cheek or do you let your lips linger and send that message "I love you"? Spending more time kissing your partner increases oxytocin which is the feel good chemical in your brain, bringing you both closer....kissing for kissing's sake rather than it always being a cue for sex is a hot tip for the guys!
5. Try something new: Mixing things up between the sheets can work wonders for your relationship, doing a fun class together or facing a challenge together that stretches you both. Doing new / adventurous activities or having a new experience together stimulates different parts of your brain boosting your feel good chemicals and you'll feel more connected with your partner too.
6. Learn something together: whether it's learning a new skill or language, learning something new helps you grow as a person and can bring you closer together.
7. Socialise together with others: Research has shown that double dating makes your partner more attractive to you. Get together with some friends, share a meal and if your partner is not one for small talk, consider playing a game, letting them take care of the BBQ or another activity that will help them feel more at ease.
8. Complement & affirm your partner regularly: It's so easy for us to focus on and comment on the things that aren't how we like them, but making a conscious effort to notice the positive attributes your partner has and all the things that they do for you/ the family strengthens the bond between you. The Gottman Institute who have done extensive research on what conditions create long lasting relationships, say that offering your partner regular praise and acknowledgements on a ratio of 5 to every one negative comment is key to healthy and successful relationships.
Have a go at implementing some of these tips and see how your relationship changes in the process!