Marriages and long term relationships don’t just stay strong on their own. As couples who have been happy together for a long time will testify - relationships need work. That isn’t to say that the work can’t be enjoyable, in fact, better than it is. If you have been with your partner for a long time the chances are certain aspects of your relationship will dull and fade, and things can feel a bit stale, no matter how committed you are to one another. And if you have children, your relationship has to contend with a new layer of exhaustion, along with depleted reserves of time and energy. A great way to freshen things up is to try new things together - and that doesn’t mean just in the bedroom (although the bedroom is a good place to start!). Here are some ideas to keep things fun and fresh, and improve the quality time you spend with your significant other.
Learn Something New
Relationships thrive on newness and innovation. So why not try to learn a new skill together? From cooking to sculpture, from ice skating to pole dancing, learning new things together is a great way for a couple to bond. And the chances are you’ll laugh a lot together as you attempt your new hobby (and fail a few times, probably). After all, we all know laughter is one of the keys to a successful relationship.
Another option is to swap hobbies - try out whatever your partner is passionate about, and have them try out your favorite activity. Even if you don’t get the bug for water-skiing, gardening, parkour or chess (or whatever floats your SO’s boat) you’ll spend a day seeing things from their perspective.
Whether it's a big, expensive gift or a little note tucked into a packed lunch, we love to be (pleasantly) surprised. Not only do surprises mean our partner was thinking about us, they break up the monotony of daily life, feeling fresh and spontaneous (even if they were meticulously planned).
Pay lip service to your relationship by kissing more. You’d be surprised how effective kissing is at increasing intimacy, whether it's a goodnight kiss, a quick peck before heading off to work or a slow, sensual snog on the couch. You don’t need any excuse for a kiss, but if you did, kissing releases dopamine in the brain, making you feel happier smooch by smooch. So pucker up!
In the Sheets
Sex is one of those things that develops over the course of a relationship and can go a bit stale if not approached right. There are loads of ways to jazz up your time in the bedroom, from something as simple as a bit of role-playing to full-on experimentation with toys, pegging and bondage. Whatever you choose to try out, make sure you both know what you’re getting into (and don’t forget to set a safe word!).
Talking of sexy time, why not try getting fresh and frisky in the great outdoors? A ramble in the woods can easily turn into something more (watch out for nettles), or perhaps you need a quick diversion on a road trip to inspect the back seat. Sex out of doors (or in your car) is fun and exciting - just be sure to keep it discreet!
Talk and Listen
Communication is one of the keys to a happy, long-lasting relationship. Make time to sit with your SO and talk together, whether you’re discussing important plans, analyzing a recently read book or watched movie, or just gossiping about the neighbors. And when you are conversing, listen. Don’t just go through the motions, waiting for your turn to speak. Relationships are really built on mutually constructive communication, so make it a cornerstone of yours.
Make Time for Each Other
Our lives are so hectic and tiring, it's easy to go a whole day without spending any quality time with your partner. If you have children, even more so. Between work, commuting, taking the kids to soccer or music lessons there is little downtime. So, schedule some! Just you and your partner, no kids, no phones, time to let your hair down and do as much or as little as you like. Not only will this foster your relationship, but it’ll also help preserve your sanity.
One of the best ways to freshen up your relationship is to go back in time to when you were first getting to know each other. Whether that means dinner, or a movie, or a concert, or simply an evening walk together, it is up to you. But having regular dates is a way to remind yourselves to keep impressing and surprising one another. And that means scrubbing up for each other too - banish the cliche of married couples wearing each other's sweatpants and pajamas by dressing to the nines.
Absence, in moderation, does make the heart grow fonder. A benchmark of a healthy relationship is being able to spend time apart, and feel it benefiting you as a couple. Make time for yourself, but remember that unexplained or sudden absence breeds insecurity and mistrust, so make sure your SO knows you’re having some ‘me’ time. Hopefully, you’ll have some new insights or anecdotes to share when you are back together.
Couples in a strong relationship report that they are more successful in all other aspects of their lives, due to the stability, security, love, and happiness they feel. So it is well worth putting work into your marriage or partnership - the rewards are plain to be seen.