You love your partner. You have committed to be together through thick and thin, and you plan to honor that commitment. But has the joy left your relationship? Do you sometimes feel like you are just going through the motions? Maybe even resenting the person you love the most?
Growing apart is a natural ebb in many relationships. But there are ways to keep the joy alive in your partnership, however challenging it may seem at times.
1. Play Together
As the saying goes, “Couples that play together, stay together.” It is easy to get into the routine of obligations and chores and let the magic dry up. Once the initial hormones and excitement of the honeymoon phase have worn off, we need to choose to keep the passion alive in our relationships.
Find ways to play that both of you enjoy. It could be board games, tennis, going on nature adventures, watching movies, solving crossword puzzles, or crafting vision boards. What you do is not that important, what matters is that you both enjoy the activity and it feels like play.
2. Stay Curious about Each Other
Healthy people evolve. The man or woman you committed to is probably not the same person that shares your bed today. And you have likely changed a lot in the time you have been with your partner.
If you maintain a fixed idea about who your partner is and will always be, you do that person a great disservice. I believe a reason we come together in relationships is to lift each other up and inspire growth and transformation. Allow your partner the space to grow. Applaud his or her changes. Stay curious and meet this person beside you, letting him or her be new every day.
3. Keep Going on Dates and Vacations
When life takes over, it is easy to take our partner for granted. He or she is always around, so why bother to schedule special time? Routine can be the death of long-term relationships.
Remember how much you enjoyed sharing new experiences when you first started dating? Keep the joy alive in your relationship by putting the kids with a sitter and going out to dinner, an art event, a relaxing vacation destination, or even a walk in the park.
The key is to schedule your date or vacation in advance, and to make each other feel special while you are out together. This is your time to continue to explore and delight in each other, however long you may have been together.
4. Get Outside Perspective
Sometimes we need an outside eye to understand ourselves. There may be some destructive patterns in your relationship that neither of you can see. A therapist or counselor can provide a compassionate and knowledgeable perspective to help you stop blaming and punishing each other for your challenges, and find solutions and harmony.
5. Take Healthy Breaks
Plants need space to thrive. If you place seedlings too close together in a garden bed, none of them will have enough space to grow strong roots or get adequate light. In a healthy relationship, people know how to give each other space.
This could look like each of you having your own room in your house, such as an office, Yoga room, or workshop in the yard. It could mean that you make dates with other friends, or join a women or men’s group to cultivate other relationships. Having meaningful, supportive friendships with other people actually strengthens most couples.
Once or twice a year, find a way to be apart for a week or two. Go to a meditation retreat or take a solo hiking trip. Grant each other space. When you come back together you will have fresh perspective and renewed appreciation for each other.
6. Prioritize Each Other
When you first got together your partner was probably the most important person in the world to you. Her or his needs, wishes, and dreams were a priority. It was natural for you to make space to be together and devote energy to supporting each other.
That sense of priority is part of what sustains a healthy partnership. Seek a healthy balance between caring for your career, dreams, and obligations, and spending quality time with your beloved. Champion his or her dreams and provide whatever support you can. Let the health and happiness of your relationship remain a priority throughout your time together.
Loving someone and creating a joyful life with that person are two different things. To keep a relationship healthy and mutually supportive, you need to prioritize. Remember to play together, to make time for each other, and to seek outside support if you lose the ability to communicate effectively and compassionately. Give each other space to grow and take healthy breaks, always remembering to come back together with curiosity, patience, and reverence for this precious person that has chosen to share their life with you.