Think back to the first few days and weeks of your relationship with your significant other. Can you recall the way you felt during that time?
Most likely, you experienced a feeling of passion toward your lover; perhaps it felt intoxicating to be around him or her. You were on top of the world, right?
Most relationships begin this way, with sparks and deep emotion, but with time, these things fade. This is a normal development within a relationship, as the passionate, fiery romance changes into a slow burn of commitment. While this development is natural, it can leave partners feeling distant.
What was once an intense love affair now feels different, and the monotony of sharing daily life together can interfere with that passion you once had. We lose track of one another, both emotionally and physically at times, and this feeling of disconnection and distance is all too common for many romantic partners.
What can you and your partner do to find a little spark in your relationship again? For most couples, with a little time and attention, they can find areas of their relationship that can be enhanced, and the outcome is they feel more love and connection. Below are 5 strategies for you and your partner to try as a way to increase your connection with one another.
1. Start a weekly check-in. How often do we let the days and weeks go by without really sitting down and simply talking to our loved one? When was the last time you did this? If you are feeling distant from your partner, ask him or her for a 20 minute weekly check-in. Sit down without any distractions (no TV, phones, or other devices) and talk about how you are doing. Discuss your schedules, upcoming plans, or exciting developments in your life. End the conversation saying, “I love you.”
2. Plan a weekly date night. When was the last time you and your partner went on a date? Make it important to find one time a week to go on a date. Going out to eat or watch a show are great ideas, but your date night does not have to be expensive or extravagant. It can be a walk to your favorite spot in your neighborhood, a mid-week meeting at a coffee shop, or breakfast in bed. The point is to be together in an enjoyable way.
3. Open up. Perhaps you come home from work and do not want to talk right away about your day. Or maybe you are simply not comfortable sharing your feelings or thoughts with your partner at all. Not everyone is a master communicator, but it is vital for you and your partner to be open with one another. How else will you stay connected over the course of your relationship? Challenge yourself to tell your partner 3 things about yourself each day. Talk about what happened at work, a thought you had while driving home, or how much you like the outfit she is wearing. It can be anything, but just talking can go a long way.
4. Listen. It is equally as important that you try to be a good listener to your partner when he or she is communicating with you. Be curious, interested, ask questions, and validate what you hear from your partner. Repeat what you heard him or her say and summarize your partner’s message. This is how we connect – through communication – so do your part and be an active listener. It shows that you care.
5. Be generous. Do not be shy to express your love and appreciation to your partner. In a long-term relationship, it can be temping to assume that our partners simply know that we love them, but this means we miss plenty of opportunities to share our positivity with one another. Be generous in your expressions of love and commitment. Send loving emails, text messages, and phone calls. Hold hands, kiss, and look one another in the eyes. Never let a day go by where you do not share your feelings of love to your partner.
Rachel is an associate marriage and family therapist who practices in Chicago and also writes about relationship and mental health issues. Her writing can also be found at the Symmetry Counseling blog.