5 No-Sweat Strategies for Boosting Your Relationship
“Real life romance is fueled by a far more humdrum approach to staying connected. It is kept alive each time you let your spouse know he or she is valued during the grind of everyday life.” - John Gottman
Healthy romantic relationships aren’t all rainbows and butterflies. It takes energy to build and maintain a relationship with your partner - the spark you felt in the beginning of the relationship will not last a lifetime unless you and your partner make an effort to keep it alive. At times your relationship may feel like it is in a bit of a rut - maybe you and your partner aren’t spending much time together, or you’re stuck in the same routines day in and day out. Maybe you feel like you don’t talk with your partner as much as you used to, or your conversations feel stilted. You might be wondering how (or even if) things will change. Don’t worry - this is very common in long-term relationships, and we have some tools that will help you give your relationship a little boost!
The good news is that it is totally possible to keep the spark alive, and there are lots of simple, easy ways you can easily strengthen your relationship.. For example, Dax Shepard, who is often vocal about how he and wife Kristen Bell maintain their relationship and keep things fresh since first getting together in 2007, suggests, "Go to dinner and ask questions and spend the time as if you just met this person at a bar. That's what's exciting I think."
If Dax and Kristen can make it work, so can you! Here are 5 simple, no-sweat strategies you can use to give your relationship a boost this month:
1. Tune in to your partner
It may sound obvious, but actively listening to what your partner is saying can help strengthen the bond between you. Here are some examples:
Lean into your partner - literally tilt your body towards them while they are speaking to show interest and attentiveness
Summarize what your partner says to you after they finish talking, and clarify that what you heard them say is what they intended for you to hear. For example, you might say, “I’m hearing you say______. Am I understanding you correctly?”
Ask new questions- instead of the standard “How was your day at work?” try asking something new when you and your partner sit down together at the end of the day. You never know what you might learn about them!
2. Set and maintain healthy boundaries
Boundaries are the guidelines you set with yourself and others with the intent of maintaining your wellbeing. When you have healthy boundaries in a relationship, you are able to maintain intimacy with the other person while also honoring your own values and needs.
In order to set and maintain healthy boundaries in your relationship, communication is key. You’ll need to be able to identify your feelings and needs, and communicate them clearly to your partner. You can do this by using “I statements”, which you can learn more about in this short video. You’ll also need to be able to use the active listening skills mentioned previously so that you can be aware of your partner’s boundaries, and make compromises when needed.
3. Go on adventures together
It’s easy to get into a routine in romantic relationships- work during the week, Netflix on the weekends, maybe go out to dinner once or twice. While those routines are comforting (and important!) to have, trying new activities with your partner can bring you closer by allowing you to share experiences together. Here are a few ideas for activities you and your partner can do together for your next date day to spice things up a little bit:
Go bowling together
Try ziplining, or hiking
Have a picnic at a park you’ve never been to before
Make a scrapbook or photo album of some of your favorite memories together
Try a dance class together
Remember to take turns picking what activity you’ll try for each date so both you and your partner feel like you have a voice in planning your dates!
4. Spend time apart
It’s true - sometimes distance does make the heart grow fonder in relationships. It’s both healthy and normal to have a life separate from your partner. Maybe you and your coworkers play softball together every Tuesday night, and your partner watches football with his friends on Thursday nights. This time apart can help you and your partner appreciate each other more, because it can help to make the time you do have together feel more special. It also allows you and your partner to explore activities and interests that each of you have that you don’t share, and can serve as a reminder that you are your own separate entities outside of your relationship.
5. Connect through physical touch
Doing something as simple as holding your partner’s hand while you’re watching your favorite TV show can help strengthen your bond with them.
When you physically touch your partner, the hormone oxytocin gets released. Known as the “love hormone,” oxytocin plays a role in our ability to trust in and bond with one another. You can boost the amount of oxytocin in your body through massage, cuddling, sex, or a simple hug.
I hope these 5 strategies give you a few ideas on how to strengthen your relationship with your partner. Know that these aren’t the only skills you can use to help you improve your relationship - perhaps these 5 will help kickstart you to come up with some more!
Couples Therapy and Relationship Counseling in St. Petersburg, FL
And of course, remember that if you are trying these strategies and are still struggling to improve your relationship, help is always available. Sometimes having the support of an experienced therapist is just what you need to bring you and your partner closer together. I highly recommend Be Your Best Self & Thrive Counseling if you are seeking additional support - to learn more about how BYBS can help you with couples counseling and relationship issues, schedule an appointment HERE
About the Guest Author:
Elena Simonsen, LCSW, BYBS Affiliate, enjoys writing about relationships, self-compassion, mental health, and navigating life changes. Click here to learn more about Elena’s professional experience.