It's natural for couples to feel the urge to spice things up every once in a while. But when you've been in a relationship for a while, it's easier said than done coming up with fresh activities or new ways to communicate that renew your interest and connection.
If you're looking to "try something new" with the one you love, here are some tips on how to refresh your relationship without losing the foundation of affection and understanding that has carried it through.
Acknowledge What Works
It's easy to get swept away with ideas to change the dynamics of your couplehood. Before you start introducing lots of newness into your relationship, take a step back and consider what you're changing and why.
Since you and your partner have been together for a while, you probably have several methods that work to communicate and discuss difficult topics. Maybe one of you talks through problems, while the other prefers to take their time processing and reflecting. Share which techniques make you both feel respected and understood - those are things that should stay.
Break Out of Your Comfort Zone
Once you know what works and what needs tweaking, come up with a plan that incorporates trying something different together. When deciding what to do, don't be afraid to venture out of your comfort zone.
You may be inclined to stick to the same old routine, such as going on the same date night every Friday, or picking the same restaurant for dinner. Those can still be part of your regular relationship practices, but it's a good idea to step outside the box once in a while and try something completely new and unfamiliar. This can help you identify the areas of the relationship you want to focus on the most and create the best possible outcomes.
You'll also want to incorporate expressions of appreciation in your renewed couplehood. Instead of taking everything your partner does for you for granted, be sure to acknowledge all of the small and big things they do that enrich your life and relationship.
When your partner expresses gratitude and appreciation for something you did, whether it was performing a chore or simply spending time with them, try to remember the feeling of being appreciated, and then show appreciation for something they did for you. Even if it's just a simple gesture, like writing them a thank-you note or leaving a sweet voicemail, showing your appreciation can further strengthen your bond.
Let Go of Criticism and Blame
It's important to avoid assigning blame and making critical judgments in any couple relationship. Bringing these negative emotions into discussions or issues can create long-term resentment where you both eventually shut down and stop listening to each other.
Resolve to keep emotions in check, however difficult it may be. Along with taking responsibility for your actions, practice understanding how and why your partner responds the way they do. This shift of perspective helps break apart assumptions and allows you to brainstorm together possible solutions and changes to improve the situation.
Take Time Apart
Don't forget that spending time apart can be beneficial for partners as well. Give each other space to enjoy activities solo, and spend time with your own friends and family. Nurturing relationships and interests outside of your coupledom gives you a chance to develop and grow as an individual. Doing something solo can recharge you mentally and give you a fresh perspective that will only reinvigorate your couplehood when you reunite.
It can be hard work maintaining a strong relationship even under circumstances where there is some "newness" mixed in. That's why it's important to adjust expectations and accept that not everything will go as planned.
At times it can feel like you're stuck in a rut - like you've tried every trick in the book with no luck. Don't give up on yourself or your partner. Keep trying to find ways to connect with each other, break from past routines, and experience something together that you've never done before.
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