As wonderful as your relationship may be, it’s almost certain that there will be times when you and your partner may drift apart, or when circumstances put additional strain on your relationship. The foundation upon which your partnership is built may be solid but nothing stays unchanged and that certainly applies to even the best of relationships. While it’s reasonable to think that people would be aware of these changes on a day-to-day basis, that’s frequently not the case. There are times when one partner is preoccupied with their own issues and therefore not as available to their significant other as they normally might be. Sometimes there are miscommunications and partners simply don’t hear each other. Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that take energy away from the partnership for a period of time.
The point is that relationships need maintenance, like anything you care deeply about. Think about a vintage car. It needs constant attention, fixing, tweaking, and tender loving care. Ideally, a healthy relationship would benefit from daily care and maintenance, too, but most of us are so wrapped up in the workings of our life day-to-day that we forget to pay attention and reconnect with our partner on a regular basis.
Reconnection is essential to keeping your relationship strong. Often, when differences and difficulties occur between partners, they may let things go for too long without intervening, only to find themselves alone one day on opposite banks of a river rather than drifting down it together, wherever the current may carry them. If you don’t already practice ways to reconnect and recommit, there’s no time like the present to become aware of the need and begin practicing mindful reconnection.
1. Your relationship comes first—always, always. This should be a given from the day you decide to commit to each other. Your relationship is your priority. As individuals, you agree to come together to weather life as a committed couple. You agree to protect your relationship against outside interference. You agree to create the necessary healthy boundaries around it. Of course, there may be times when something or someone may need your attention and that may require shifting your focus away from your primary relationship for a period of time. But at no time should an outside influence occupy your time and energy and become the focus of the relationship. (I make this point because there are certain situations when outside individuals may attempt tho insinuate themselves into your relationship for their own needs. No other relationship should ever be permitted to break the bond of your most intimate connection.)
Reconnecting on a daily basis is ideal. Letting your partner know they come first ensures them that they are your main, forever priority. If you can’t do this on a daily basis it’s essential that you set aside time to let each other know how much they mean to you and to commit to keeping the relationship as the most important focus.
2. Express your love often. This requires letting your partner know on a regular basis how much they are cared for and appreciated. I’m talking beyond sexual connection. We often take someone for granted, for who they are and what they do for us. You can never tell someone enough how important they are to you. Be supportive, be positive, be encouraging.
If you can, check in with your partner, even for a moment, throughout the day. “How are you? How’s it going? I love you. Can’t wait to see you.” It only takes a minute. But if you can’t, or the day gets away, small gestures (notes, texts, flowers, something special for dinner) go a long way. It’s important to never get lazy.
3. Set aside time to talk about your relationship. Whether every week or month, put aside time to discuss how you’re doing together, as well as individually. What’s working for the relationship and what isn’t? What can you change, fix, or tweak to make communication and intimacy better? Is there an area of your life that needs overhauling? Are individual needs and expectations being met? Are partners satisfied with the way essential responsibilities are being handled? What more can you do for each other? Are the choices and the decisions you’re making in the best interest of the relationship?
4. Create partner rituals. Aside from birthdays, anniversaries, and other significant life events, rituals help bind people together and solidify a relationship. For some, renewing marriage vows is a meaningful event that recommits people to each other in a relationship. Rituals can be formal or informal, religious and/or spiritual, sacred and solemn or full of laughter and fun. Rituals can be created around anything that signals something significant that you and your partner want to remember and honor—for example, revisiting a special place every year, or visiting the place where you had your first date, etc. These rituals are powerful reminders of how you felt and continue to feel about the relationship.
5. Go on a couple’s retreat. This means taking time away from your everyday life and leaving your responsibilities and obligations behind you, if even for a day. This allows for quality time together with nothing else to think about. Time away allows partners to focus on rekindling their love for each other and reconnecting and recommitting to the relationship.
Remember, intimate relationships are organic, living things. We and our relationships are always changing and evolving. As with anything we love and care about, we need to make the effort to nurture and foster the very best we can have.