When in a relationship it's important that you make it your top priority. Below are some tips to help make it last. However, if you find that you're stuck, things aren't flowing like you thought they would or you're looking for assistance keeping the love alive you may want to contact a therapist. They can help you get it back on track.
In the meantime, enjoy the tips below - they aren't too hard to follow and some are even fun!
1. Talk about great times from the past. Focus on the fun times and show appreciation for what brought you together in the first place. Talk about the romantic dinners, walks on the beach, your first kiss. It’s a great reminder of your love and a wonderful ego boost for you both. Don’t focus on the fact you may not doing that much anymore but shift it to the positive memories and the fun, acceptance and love you felt. Having a positive conversation like this will bring those fun memories to the forefront and increase the likelihood you incorporate those good times again.
2. Touch often. The power of touch is extremely important! Those little touches are a very powerful way to stay connected. As you pass each other touch a shoulder, hold hands, touch a cheek when kissing. When sitting on the couch together watching tv, softly rub his/her arm or leg. Give each other hugs! As relationships age the touching tends to decline. When was the last time you touched your partner? It’s amazing how soothing, calming and closeness a touch can bring. And … touching releases a powerful sex hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin causes a bonding feeling. It takes very little touching for the oxytocin to kick in… so please keep touching.
3. Be a good listener. Sometimes we just need to be heard. We don’t want a solution or a lot of talk in return. Venting is good! Let your partner vent, let them know you hear them, give them hugs or hold their hand when venting (there’s that touch). Your partner may not know if you want advice or just to be heard so communicate that. When we love someone we want to try to fix things. So communicate you just need to vent .. then .. your partner knows to be a good listener.
4. Communication! Talk to each other. Let each other know your wants. Ask your partner, “What do you need more of?” Then the key is, when they tell you, follow through on their answer. They might respond with “I need more alone time with you” or “I miss kissing you like we used to”. When you make your needs known resentment and anger doesn’t build because it's all out in the open. So talk, talk, talk. Get the conversation going. Once it’s been shared you can easily fulfill the request or talk about a compromise.
5. Accept that you each are going to have bad days. We all can’t be perfect every day. Your partner may snap at something you find ridiculous. Chances are it isn’t about that little thing that he/she’s snapping about but rather a bigger issue of something that occurred earlier. Like an argument with a friend or colleague. So before you jump back with a terse response, remain calm and listen (remember “be a good listener”). Try and understand your partner may just be having a bad day. Be a little sympathetic. When you practice this it will become more natural when it’s you having the bad day and your partner will see how nice it was that you remained calm.
6. Have fun! Every day life can be stressful. We are filled with bad news on the radio/tv, there’s financial problems, you hear of friends not getting along. All of this can pull a person down. Instead of focusing on the bad, take time to play! Grab a glass of wine and play a board game, play cards, plan a date of miniature golf. Get out the rut. Laugh! Giggle! Tickle! Be spontaneous! Remind each other how fun you both can be.
7. Be financially responsible. Money is one of the biggest relationship stressors, especially when times are tough. You both need to know the bills are getting paid which brings a feeling of security. Watch the unnecessary spending. What tends to work well is having a joint account for bills and necessities but also create a separate account for each of you. You don’t have to put a lot in the separate account if you don’t have much coming in, but, it creates a play account where you don’t have to ask permission to spend. Have a conversation on what amount will work for you both. It can be as little as $20/month. Trust me, it adds up over time. You each put the same amount in each of your accounts. Save it over time and then when you need a special item you can buy it. No hard feelings because it’s already been worked in the budget.
8. Give each other alone time with their friends. Sometimes events come up that might be just a guys or girls night out. Maybe the guys want to get together to watch a sporting event or the girls want to have lunch together. It’s okay! Don’t make each other feel guilty for wanting to spend time with their friends. Maintaining separate social lives and being supportive of each other boosts a relationship.
9. Fight Fairly. Don’t use words like “always” or “never” when arguing, such as, “You never let me do what I want!”. That distracts from the issue at hand. Remind each other that you need to stay focused on finding a solution. You each may say something that you don’t really mean but don’t realize it until the argument winds down. Know that it’s okay to say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t really mean that”. Accept the apology and refocus on the solution which may involve a compromise.
10. Drop old issues. We all have “stuff” from our past. Maybe with old friends, dating times and/or family. Don’t bring up old issues to use in a new argument. Avoid the hot topics if you’ve already discussed them. Hopefully these have all already been worked through. If either of you are having a hard time of letting go and the past keeps coming up you may need the help of a therapist.
Liz Birch is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who provides services in her office in Orange, CA but also has options for home-based and online psychotherapy. Her areas of expertise are in communications, relationships, marriage strengthening, stress reduction, depression, trauma, ptsd and provides support to the military population and their families. She can be reached via LizBirchTherapist.com, email at LizBirchMFT@gmail.com, or by calling 714-614-0612.
*Photo via foter.com
I'm a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who works with individuals, couples and families. I hope I inspire you to take risks and step out of your comfort zone. You might be surprised what you discover.