Whether you're engaged, a newlywed, or long married, there are times when we can all use a little help breathing life into our relationships. Sometimes we take each other for granted, or the stress of wedding planning or buying a house is wreaking havoc on our companionship, but there are plenty of ways to reignite the fire in a relationship that's simmering.
Read on for eight ways — some are simple, small gestures, others are more significant relationship retooling techniques — to discover your partner in a whole new way.
1. Recreate your first date.
Reminiscing about the early days of your relationship can help remind you of why you fell in love. Recreate one of your early dates, hold hands, talk about how you felt when you first met, and recommit to each other.
2. Do something together that you've never done before.
Whether it's going out dancing, taking a long hike, going on a zip-line adventure, or enrolling in a woodworking class, doing something unexpected can be just the thing to break up your routine and make you feel excited about your life and your partner.
3. Look at your partner the way other people do.
If you've been together a few years, you may look at your spouse and see someone who forgets to clear the hair from the drain, who leaves dirty dishes in the sink, or always tells that same story at dinner parties. But your friends see a fun, funny, energetic person — and they see also see the wonderful things you and your partner do for each other (that perhaps you've stopped noticing). Go out with another couple and sneak in a side conversation with one of your friends for a little reminder about how great your partner can be.
4. Speak your partner's "love language."
The gist of the "love languages" phenomenon is this: We each want, perceive, and understand love in different ways — be it through physical touch, quality time, or words of affirmation, for example — but we need to speak our partner's "language" in order to give them the love they crave in an effective way. You can take this quiz to find out your "love language" or just talk to your partner about what love means to them. If she wants to be touched or held more, give her more physical contact. If he feels loved when you take on more household chores, work a little cleanup time into your daily schedule.
5. Write a love letter.
Sometimes we just need to slow down and tell our partners we appreciate them. Writing out a list of things you love and appreciate about your beloved can bring you closer together.
6. Set aside distraction-free time for each other.
Living together or having a constantly pinging smartphone can mean that the time you spend with your love isn't necessarily quality time. So clear some time on the calendar, even if it's just for hanging out together at home! Then you can look forward to it — and maybe spruce yourself up a little bit before your "date" — and really relax knowing there's nowhere else in the world you need to be.
7. Reassess your values.
When you first got together you probably discussed your values and goals — for example, buying a home, seeing your family at least once a month, completing a half-marathon — but over the years it's possible that your values have changed and you've drifted apart. If this is the case, you may be feeling disconnected from your partner and unsure whether you're both still on the same page. Talk through what you want to achieve in the next five to 10 years and what matters to you most now, and see if you can get realigned.
8. See a counselor.
Even if you think your relationship just needs a little pick-me-up — as opposed to a lifesaving mission — counseling can be the perfect way to help you communicate a little better and clear the air of any built-up resentments or tensions that may be threatening to stamp out your spark.
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