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4 Quick Ways to Freshen up Your Relationship

Have you been ignoring your partner? Try these easy ways to re-engage.

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Most people know they should be putting at least a little bit of ongoing effort into their relationship with their spouse or partner. However, when life is busy, it's easy to take your home life for granted. If you haven't put much effort in lately, here are some quick ideas to give your partner and relationship some TLC.

1. Take over a job your partner usually does.

What's a shared "to-do" your partner is currently in charge of that you could take off their plate? For instance, you share a car, and your partner always refills the gas. For maximum benefit, ideally pick a task that requires your partner to monitor that item (as in the case of the car's gas level). Let your partner know you'd be happy to take responsibility for that task from now on, including monitoring when it needs to be done.

The task you take over can be pretty minimal, and this can still be a great treat for your partner. Here's a real-world example: My family custom orders bread rolls we all like from our local Whole Foods Market every few weeks and then freeze them for our ongoing use. Previously I was in charge of monitoring when we were getting low and needed to reorder, but my spouse took over this task, much to my delight.

2. Play a (non-electronic) game.

Playing a game together as a family gets everyone off their devices and emotionally engaged with each other. You might think you're someone who hates games, but even so, you probably don't hate all games. Ideas: You can pick a board or other indoor game (e.g., Jenga, dominos, Twister) or an outdoor game (e.g., Four Square).

If you're stuck for inspiration and have children, try teaching your children a game you played as a kid. Solo games can work too if you do them together (e.g., learning how to do a Rubik's cube faster and sharing tips and strategies).

3. Recreate a happy memory.

Many couples did fun activities together earlier in their relationship, but for whatever reason, those have fallen by the wayside. For instance, perhaps there was a dish you used to cook together or a relationship ritual you enjoyed (like making an elaborate brunch on Saturdays).

You may need to adapt a memory to make it possible in your current life, such as recreating a positive memory from a vacation, but with a twist to make it doable in your normal life.

4. Take an interest in something that's on your partner's mind.

What does your partner spend their time thinking about? Working on?

  • Perhaps they're working on a side hustle.
  • Perhaps their parent hasn't been well, and they're sad or anxious about it.
  • Perhaps they've got lots of changes going on at work.
  • Perhaps they've been watching Marie Kondo's show and are KonMari'ing your kitchen.

Try taking an interest in something your partner is thinking about. You can keep this low key. For instance, maybe you ask your partner about their favorite new organizing tips. Maybe you ask, "How's your dad's new medication working out? Are the side effects better than the other one?"

Prickly partners can sometimes react to questions as if they're being interrogated when all you're trying to do is show interest. Therefore you'll need to use your knowledge of your specific partner in deciding how to frame your comments. In this scenario, you might stick to compliments over questions, or at least start that way, such as "You've done a great job with reorganizing the kitchen. When I was looking for the dough hook for the mixer the other day, it was much easier to find."

Wrapping Up

I often write about how when relationships go bad, it's usually the positive interactions that decrease first before the arguments increase. This research finding emphasizes the importance of the types of simple, positive interactions I've covered here.

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