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Love Hacks

Ten tips that will bring you closer to your partner.

Key points

  • When a relationship starts to feel stale, it’s often because of boredom.
  • Paying attention is the currency of love.
  • Not needing to get your way all the time signals to your partner that you care about their happiness.
Priscilla du Preez/Unsplash
Priscilla du Preez/Unsplash

When a relationship starts to feel stale, it's often because of boredom—you settle into a routine, stop paying attention to the good stuff, and settle for half-hearted communication. If you and your partner could use a boost, try implementing the following ideas.

1. Paying attention is the currency of love.

Say all the good stuff out loud. Are you impressed by what you overheard on your partner's work call? Think they look beautiful still in their pj's, drinking coffee? Impressed by how quickly they've improved at pickleball? Tell them! Over time, we tend to voice our complaints and stay quiet about—or, worse, not notice—the good things. Bonded couples say the good things out loud.

2. Have a weekly meeting to review the logistics for the following week.

In addition to managing mandatory logistics, carve out time when each person gets to do what they want to do. Addressing the "have to's" reminds you that you're a team, and advocating for each of you to make time for the "want to's" reminds you that you have someone in your corner.

3. If your sex life's in a rut, alternate sex sessions that are devoted exclusively to the other's pleasure.

This encourages attunement, creativity, and exploration. Be the sexual partner you believe they most want, and be open to receiving instruction. Next time, it's your turn.

4. Seek novelty.

New experiences bring us closer, which is part of why new relationships are so exciting. Of course, it can take extra work to book skydiving lessons or walk around a new neighborhood instead of spending Saturday puttering around the house. Still, the adrenalin that new experiences give your relationship will be well worth it.

5. When you're upset, speak for your feelings instead of from your feelings.

For example, say, "When you say you're going to clean up the kitchen, and the next day you still haven't done it, I imagine you're waiting for me to do it. I'm getting angry and resentful, and we need to figure this out." Instead of, "You are a disgusting slob who always takes advantage of me!" It's OK to be angry and speak up but not to attack your partner verbally. Expect conflict, but always fight fair.

6. Embrace each other's family and friends.

It's natural to want to prioritize your people, but happy couples have a community that supports both people in the relationship. When possible, join forces.

7. On small things, defer to the person who cares the most.

Not needing to get your way all the time signals to your partner that you care about their happiness and encourages them to defer to you when you're the one who cares deeply.

8. Make a habit of talking about money.

Financial issues are the second leading cause of divorce (behind infidelity), and financial infidelity (keeping financial secrets from your partner) is rising. Being transparent, collaborating around money issues, and bringing in a financial advisor or couples therapist if finances get contentious might save your relationship.

9. Share the drudgery, and be explicit about it.

Staying satisfied with your partner is hard if you feel unappreciated or used. It's also hard not to feel defensive if you're constantly told you're not doing enough. Instead, agree on who will do what and decide together what "done" looks like. Every couple has one neater person and one person who cares less about chores. Meet in the middle and then do your part.

10. Don't try to talk your partner out of their feelings.

So often, when our partner is upset with us, we want to explain ourselves, say why they shouldn't feel the way they do, or provide context to justify ourselves. Your partner will experience this as you try to talk them out of their feelings about what happened. So instead, say, "I see you're upset. Help me understand what's going on for you." Then, once they feel heard, say, "Can I share what was going on for me?"

How would your relationship change if you tried a few of these suggestions? How would it change if you implemented all of them?

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