Being in a relationship involves time, commitment, patience, a willingness to forgive, an openness and vulnerability, and giving without expectation of anything in return. This sounds like a lot of work and it is, but the potential rewards are well worth the effort. Yet even as you work at your relationship, you also need to endeavor to keep it fresh. Here are eight tips for doing so:
- Make an effort to be present. You might think that being in the same room with your partner is enough to be present. But that doesn’t hold true in a society where it’s easier to text than communicate even when two people are in the same room. Everyone’s buried in their electronic devices. Put the devices on mute. Your physical presence is one way to keep your partner interested, but there’s more at stake than simply occupying space.
- Cultivate the art of listening. If you constantly look for an opening to insert your comments or find yourself crafting your response even before your partner finishes speaking, you’re not present. Stop thinking and start listening. Your partner will appreciate that you’re not trying to multitask or interrupting. Who knows? This may even ignite a spark that takes your relationship to a deeper level. All it takes is improving your listening skills.
- Pay special attention to your “look.” Make a special effort when you put together your wardrobe for the day and consider what will make you look your best, shows off your best traits, flatters your physique or is your partner’s particular favorite. For example, if your partner likes you in blue, and you also like it, why not put on that blue scarf or tie? This is a subtle signal to your partner that you acknowledge his or her likes and want to give him or her the pleasure of seeing you wearing it.
- Practice simplicity. How many times have you caught yourself rambling without ever getting to the point? This habit is annoying at best and it doesn’t do a relationship any good, either. Before you speak, think about what you’re about to say. If you can say it in one sentence, that’s ideal. If not, boil it down to two or three points, max. This is enough to convey what you need to say without boring your partner.
Simplicity counts a lot in a relationship. Besides, if you’ve known your partner for some time, you both have a kind of shorthand language. He or she will be able to fill in the blanks and get the gist of the idea without a lot of extra words.
- Make it a date. Back when you first met your partner, no doubt everything was new and exciting. Each time you went out you likely discovered some new and intriguing bit of information about each other that deepened your interest and heightened your attraction.
Now that you’ve been together for a while you might think you don’t have any need for dates. You’d be wrong. While setting aside time on the calendar for just the two of you to do something together may not qualify as a “date” in the classic sense, it is a date, nonetheless. It is a time you both reserve to be together. This is a priceless opportunity to enrich your relationship and to keep your partner interested at the same time.
- Talk about each other’s dreams. Kids, household bills, careers, finances, health and other topics and responsibilities take a large chunk of time in any relationship. Sometimes it can seem overwhelming, leaving little time to contemplate or progress toward dreams. Carve out some time to spend with your partner talking about each other’s dreams.
Nothing gets your enthusiasm going more than to open up about what really matters to you. Just be sure that this is a two-way street. To make it easier, let your partner go first. That way you know you won’t hog all the time talking about only your dreams.
- Little things mean a lot. If you want your partner to remain interested over the long haul, one way to keep it fresh is to do things that surprise and delight him or her. It doesn’t have to be an expensive gift or dinner at a fine restaurant. Take over a chore to lighten the load or arrange for someone to watch the kids so the two of you can share a glass of wine and enjoy the sunset.
Write each other little notes and tuck them away where only the two of you are likely to see them. This is the modern equivalent of love letters, just shortened to get to the point more quickly. Your sentiments say more than words convey. Your partner can’t help but be interested.
- Kiss and make up. No matter how rough your day is, don’t take it out on your partner. Even when the conversation veers into difficult territory and heated words ensue, resolve to call a timeout before you head off to bed. While you may not be in the emotional state to actually kiss, make it a point to table the discussion for another time. Be amicable and warm and respect each other. On the other hand, there’s no better way to cement your bond than to actually kiss and make up. Do whatever works best for you in the moment.
Woman dressing photo available from Shutterstock