“We waste time looking for the perfect lover, instead of creating the perfect love.”
—Tom Robbins, American novelist
Are you still “in love” with your partner?
Do you feel deep affection?
Are you best friends?
Do you connect daily?
Is sexual attraction present?
Keeping love alive in a relationship is a challenge—especially when we’re perpetually busy and distracted by our gadgets and social media. Attending to and consistently nurturing bonds over time is key to making relationships last.
Love will fade if we don’t actively do the work to deepen and cultivate our connections. Just as exercise builds muscles and keeps us physically in shape, we must work out our emotional muscles to keep our relationships fit. Consciously loving our partners is what sustains and grows the strength and depth of intimacy over a lifetime.
Often, in the therapy room, individuals and couples disclose they’ve lost their connection. Among other things, therapists hear:
- “It feels like we’re just roommates.”
- “I feel detached.”
- “I love my partner, but I’m not ‘in love.’ ”
- “I care about my partner, but the attraction is gone.”
- “We don’t have fun anymore.”
With apprehension, people ask, “Is there a way to get love and attraction back?”
The answer is a resounding yes! And doing so doesn’t always require heavy lifting. Often, it’s more about creating a new habit of going to the “relationship gym” several times a week and lifting smaller weights. Consistency and perseverance are crucial to building relationship muscles. With repetition, loving feelings of warmth and attraction can return.
Here are 10 easy ways to build your relationship and actively create deeper love and connection:
1. Stay in Close Contact
With all our handy electronics, staying in touch during the day should be easy … if we don’t get so focused on work that we forget or fail to connect with our loved ones. Taking a few minutes to text or give a midday call is a great way to keep your relationship in mind and let your partner know you are thinking about them.
2. Be Present
One of the biggest roadblocks occurs when couples are together physically, yet one or both are on (or shall we say “in”) their computers or cellphones. For many couples, it is the only time they have to connect, catch up on the day, and share each other’s lives. To truly be present, you must put the electronics away and make a point of talking, touching, and sharing.
3. Learn More About Your Partner
Think you know everything about your partner? There is almost surely more you can learn. Here are some great resources to get you talking to each other. You might be surprised to discover things you never knew.
Sometimes my husband and I sit down and try to recall our best memories. We ask each other, “Do you remember …?” It is always fun going back down memory lane and thinking about how far we have come, how much history we share, and how much we have accomplished together over the years. Not just the good times, but the difficult ones, too. Here is a great journal where you can record your story, a place where you and your partner (and, someday, your kids) can remember the way it was.
5. Create a Relationship ‘Bucket List’
Stop and think about all the things you would like to do together but never get to. Chances are you tend to fly by the seat of your pants and don’t pause to think about the fun activities you could do together; the days just pass by. If you write it down, the chances are better you will actually do it.
6. Do Something New Together
Try something you haven’t done before. Go to a bed-and-breakfast for a night, find a new restaurant, have a picnic at a park, go on a ghost tour, do a casino night, visit a museum or art gallery, take a wine tasting tour, or go roller skating. Shared experiences create memories and stimulate connection.
7. Learn Something New Together
Finding a hobby you both enjoy can be exciting. Plus, it’s a bonding experience. Dancing, photography, yoga, couples massage, acting, cooking, painting, home improvement, and fitness are just a few ideas. Think outside the box here.
8. Play Games
Have you ever played a game (without the kids)? Try card games, board games, video games. Here is one from our favorite expert on marriage, John Gottman.
Many people “forget” to laugh as the serious responsibilities of marriage, family, and career take over and get in the way. Get your laugh on—watch a romantic comedy, turn on Comedy Central, or go out to a comedy club. Spend time with people who make you laugh. I recently discovered something new: laughter yoga. Check out their YouTube video below.
10. Have Sex
Sexual intimacy may be what makes your relationship different from any other kind of loving relationship in your life. We often find in practice that couples neglect their sexual bonds. New research has found heterosexual couples who have sex at least once a week are happiest.
The key to success is to start small and be consistent. Ask your partner to read this article. Then, together, pick one or two ideas from above to start with. Add your own. Build your relationship. Feel closer. Create lasting love.
Society for Personality and Social Psychology. (2015, November 18). Couples who have sex weekly are happiest: More sex may not always make you happier, according to new research. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151118101718.htm
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