- Complacency puts relationships at risk; they require constant tending.
- Keep the spark alive with expressions of love and trying new things together.
- Put the past behind you and live in the moment with your partner.
All human relationships are complex, but especially those in which two people have chosen to spend their lives together. Each of us is complex individually. So, imagine combining that with the full complexity of another person. It’s pretty amazing how many intimate relationships actually do work out. But it’s easy to see how difficult combining two lives can be and why many relationships don’t make it.
As we move further along in a relationship, what was once new and exciting becomes more familiar and expected. In many ways, that’s a good thing. Excitement is often hard to sustain and after all, there is the work of everyday life that we all need to get to. So, we settle into a familiar, comfortable pattern of interaction with each other. We develop our shorthand ways of communicating.
But, there is the danger of becoming too complacent in our relationship. We can begin to take things for granted. We can stop trying to please, listen, appreciate, or make time to really be together in an intimate and satisfying way. We often forget all the time, effort, and energy it took to cultivate the relationship to the point where the decision to be together for the long haul happened.
So, assess your relationship now. Today. Is the relationship just drifting along? Have you both gotten lazy? Have you forgotten how to really be present for your partner? Has the relationship gotten stale?
The bottom line is that truth be known, each relationship needs constant attention and constant tending to keep it alive and flourishing. If you don’t water a flower, it will eventually wither and die. Same for human relationships.
Please note, COVID-19 has changed the mix of daily life. People are at home, in close quarters with family members. Obviously, a lot of what I’m about to say applies to life as we once knew it, and hopefully will know it again.
Here are some things you can become aware of right now. They are simple enough that with mindfulness, you can re-incorporate them into your relationship starting today.
Check in with your partner
Set aside time to check in with your partner during the day. This seems so obvious. Yet, often people get so caught up in their work-life that they don’t have time or choose not to make the time. They’re just too busy. All it takes is a minute to email, text, or call to ask how someone is and how their day is going. Finished. Aside from that, couples need to set aside a few moments a day just to talk to each other to catch up on practical matters and/or to express caring and appreciation.
Again, we often get so caught up in the many things that need our attention every day that we forget that attention and affection feed the heart and soul. Touching, hugging, holding hands, looking into your partner’s eyes go such a long way especially when we are bogged down in the job of daily living. Small gestures—personal notes, buying flowers, or something your partner likes/enjoys—are things you can do that don’t take much time or effort and again, go such a long way to show you care.
Take the time to tell your partner what you love and admire about them. It’s important for partners to continue to show support and encouragement for what each of you is doing to sustain the relationship. Without this, people often begin to feel taken advantage of and unappreciated, especially so when times are difficult.
Experience new things together
This is a good way to keep the relationship fresh and interesting. Often, life becomes routine. Relationships can get stale without that spark of excitement you once had together. The very thing that attracted you to each other initially, the newness and spontaneity of it all, kept you interested and excited. You can easily reignite that excitement by planning something new together—exploring places you’ve never been before, going to a museum, listening to new music, taking a class/course together. This can also spill over to other family members as well. Looking forward to trying different things can add spice to your life.
Let it go
Let bygones be bygones. Deal with old business by yourself and with your partner. Put the past behind you. Unload the old baggage you’ve been carrying around. One of the best gifts you can give to your partner is a future built on trust and love, not shame, blame, sadness, and anger. It’s tempting to want to rehash old issues and unresolved problems. But, pick your battles. If these issues and problems are not major to your relationship, leave them behind. This way you also make room for being in relationship with your partner right here and now, in this moment, without expectation or prejudice.
Keep on growing
Being the best for your relationship means being the best for yourself first. This has nothing to do with being selfish, meaning “me first.” It means that your goal is to develop your full potential. Of course, what you become directly impacts your relationship. It’s a win-win; everyone benefits. Likewise, honor your partner’s desire to be their best. This means appreciating and respecting each person’s personal integrity, uniqueness, and separateness. When you can relax and feel truly free to be yourself, unencumbered by your past, a vast territory of possibilities opens before you.