It is no secret that it takes more than just love to keep a marriage strong and healthy. Obviously strong feelings for each other are a necessity, but with the many responsibilities of life, fitting in quality time with your significant other can definitely take a backseat. Luckily there are countless ways to give your relationship the care and attention it needs to last. Best of all, a lot of them don’t require a huge change in your daily schedule or a lot of money.

1. Recognize that all relationships have their ups and downs

Just as you can’t expect to be happy all the time, you shouldn’t expect your relationship to be at a continuous high.  When you make a long-term commitment to someone you have to be willing to ride the highs, as well as the lows, together.

2. Keep the novelty alive

One of the positive aspects of being in a relationship with someone for a long time is that you really get to know each other. The negative side of this is that the novelty wears off, and humans love novelty. However, there’s a way to keep the novelty alive: constantly try new activities together. This creates the excitement and the uncertainty that comes from the unknown, even if you’re with someone whom you know as well as the back of your hand.

3. Keep the playfulness alive

We all love to play, regardless of our age. Do the following: have fun together; do something ridiculous together, and just let go. In addition, the next time that your partner says something that bothers you, try responding with a joke instead of getting defensive.

4. Create Novel Experiences

Although eating your favorite pizza every Saturday night and incorporating rituals in your life strengthens relationships, boredom does creep in. Therefore, you should shake things up. Pepper your routine with unpredictable date nights and moments of fun.

5. Surprise With Little Things

Small gestures keep the spark alive and remind your partner you are thinking about them. Happy couples are kind to each other. Giving or volunteering to help out is a plus. In fact, acts of kindness are powerful and those that are unplanned tend to fuel overall well-being.

6. Tell your partner often why you love them

The initial stages of a relationship are filled with butterflies and constant verbal affection. The problem is, as time goes on, those butterflies tend to fly away and so do the “I love you” Of course it is normal to not be as “lovey-dovey” as when you first met, but don’t forsake all verbal affection. Tell your partner you love them often, but don’t stop there! Tell them why you love them. Whether it be for taking the kids to the mall when you clearly need some relaxation time, bringing you flowers one random evening, or simply for being him. Whatever it may be, say it loud and say it proud!

7. Look each other in the eyes

We all grew up with our parents reminding us to look people in the eyes when we speak to them. Mom and dad may have been on to something because eye contact is just as important in marriage as it was when we were kids! Whether you are out with friends or speaking to your kids, it can be both rude and frustrating to have the person you are talking to checking their phone or looking around the room as you speak. It gives off the impression that the other person is disinterested or simply doesn’t care what you have to say. The same goes for when you and your partner are speaking. Actions speak louder than words. Instead of saying “I’m listening”, show your partner you are listening by looking him in the eyes and eliminating other distractions when you are having a conversation.

8. Greet each other when you come home

First things first, say “hello”. This may sound like a cliché, but making sure that you greet your spouse when they come home is important. It lets your partner know that you are happy to see them and often translates to “I missed you.” Let’s face it, it can be pretty disappointing when you show up to an event and no one greets you or seems to care that you’ve even arrived. The same goes for when your spouse gets home, so don’t forget to greet them with a loving “hello” followed by a sweet kiss! Even just spending a few minutes doing some daily Activities greatly increases your relationship’s happiness.

9. Give your partner space

The same thing happens in human relationships: we want closeness, but we also want space. The key is to find that sweet spot at which we feel the warmth that comes from being in a relationship, while at the same time allowing each partner to have enough space so that neither one feels like they’re being pricked by the other’s spines (feelings of lost individuality, feeling crowded, and so on).

10. Spend time together without technology

Speaking of making eye contact, eliminating technology every now and then is a great way to give your significant other your full attention. There is no denying how distracting technology can be, so make sure that you and your spouse are spending some time without it. Make a no cell phone rule for date night or leave the electronics in the other room during your morning coffee together. Spending time together without the imposing distraction of technology allows you and your spouse to give each other the attention and consideration that you both deserve.

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