Love is in the air as Valentine’s Day approaches this week! Store shelves are stocked with red and pink heart-shaped items, flowers are being delivered, and email inboxes are flooded with dinner for two specials.
This season of love is a great time to examine your own relationships. How are things going between you and your partner? Are you still basking in the honeymoon phase, feeling giddy at the sound of their name? Or maybe you’ve been in a long-term relationship and are looking to ignite that spark again? Wherever you are in this relationship game take a moment to read more about this crazy little thing called love!
This crazy little thing called love… …is hard.
If you are in a long-term relationship with someone then you know that the days of butterflies and roses and heart-eyed emojis may have diminished by now. Of course the love and compassion is still there, you might just need to dig a little deeper to remind yourself of all the crazy little things you love about your partner. Sometimes we can get so bogged down with the stressors of daily life or we become fixated on our own problems that we forget to give our relationship the much needed attention it deserves. My challenge for you this Valentine’s Day is to try and strengthen your relationship by taking the time to appreciate your partner, learn more about them, and dive into discussions about each other’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
You might be thinking, “this sounds like a lot of work.” Well, newsflash: relationships take some work. If we become too neglectful of our relationships we run the risk of losing interest in our partner, becoming increasingly unsatisfied, and ultimately searching elsewhere for love and affection.
Newsflash 2.0: I have a few suggestions to make this hard work a little easier for you.
Try some of these ideas for inspiration on how to strengthen and improve your relationship with your hunk, a hunk of burning love!
Praise your partner.
If your partner has done something to make you feel appreciated, praise them! Everyone likes to be praised for a job well done. Praise them for tasks you might think are menial, or expected. Even if you have praised them a zillion times before, keep praising. Did they make the bed after you rolled out half asleep to get ready for the day? Praise. Did they remember to refill the dog’s bowl when the food was low? Praise. (I know for all you dog people this is a biggie!) Did they finally move their dishes from the sink to the actual dishwasher?! Praise hands! The power of positive praise should not be underestimated in improving your relationship. Positive praise is one of the best ways to increase any desired behavior. (Pro tip: this works on your kids too!)
Compliment your cuddle bug.
Since we’re already praising our partner why not throw in some compliments while you’re feeling generous! This should go beyond just complimenting their appearance. Although, a girl sure does love to hear how cute her new (on sale) shoes are! Compliment your partner on how delicious dinner tasted. Compliment them for picking up the carpool for the kids. Compliment them for listening attentively. Compliment them for being yours. Being complimented makes us feel happy, proud, and loved.
Surprise your sweetheart.
Long-term relationships can be littered with routines. You know the drill. Routines keep life in order. They’re great for consistency. But, sometimes we have to shake it up a little bit. Sauté your relationship with some surprises! Surprise your sweetie by doing something unexpected for them. One of my favorite surprises that a couple shared with me is to “butter up” your partner’s toothbrush. Translation: whoever wakes up first in the morning puts the toothpaste on their partner’s toothbrush so that when the other goes to go brush their teeth the toothbrush is already “buttered up!” This small, tiny favor takes one task off of your partner’s plate for the day. Surprise date nights and small gifts are great, but have you ever surprised your partner by scraping their frozen windshield, cleaning the toilet bowl, or on a rare occasion even letting them select the TV show for once? Small, unexpected surprises like these are sure to light that flame right back up!
Quiz your QT!
When you have been in a relationship with someone for an extended period of time you probably feel like you know everything about this person. You probably even know some things about your partner you wish you didn’t—like knowing that Mexican food never ends well for them. (Hence, why the cleaning of the toilet surprise is so effective 😉 ) Even if you have been with your partner for decades, trying quizzing each other to learn even more about them! What was their favorite movie as a kid? What is their favorite song right now? What was the scariest thing that ever happened to them? Who was their role model growing up? Quizzing each other can teach you new things about your partner you may have never known before. And if you are in a new relationship try posing some of these open-ended questions to your partner. These discussion provoking questions can lead to a deeper understanding of your partner’s past and an increased feeling of connection in the present.
Reflect with your Romeo (or Juliet).
One of the best ways to bring back those butterflies and roses is to reminisce on the early days of your courtship. When did you first notice that you were interested in your partner? Retell the story of how you met. What first attracted you to each other? Recall your favorite date together. Recreate that date if possible. When did you first realize that you loved this person? Reflecting on the development of your relationship can be a helpful reminder of why you fell in love with your partner in the first place. Reminding yourself and your partner of all the meaningful aspects that you enjoy about each other can help offset those days when you’re in a rut or just flat out annoyed with each other—all of which is totally normal and expected! Right?!
Plan with your pooh bear!
Where do you hope to be in the next 5, 10, or 15 years? What does your relationship look like then? What will change? What will stay the same? Talk about your future plans with your partner. What are your goals, both individually and together? What do you need from your partner to achieve these goals? Express your hopes, dreams, and desires with this person you have decided to share a life with. Having common goals you can work towards together can help solidify your bond as a unit. And while you’re busy planning this wonderful future together be sure and pencil in some vacation time. Nothing mends a rough patch quite like having a fun trip on the horizon to look forward to—together.
Support your sugar pie!
Life can be hard. What’s even harder is having to handle life on your own. If you are fortunate enough to be blessed with a partner willing to go through life by your side, support each other! Find shared hobbies you two can participate in to increase time spent together. Show an interest in the stuff they enjoy—even if that stuff is not your cup of tea. (Or take advantage of the time apart to enjoy the things that you love—like shopping for shoes on sale!) Support your partner by holding their hand when they are scared; wipe their tears when they are sad; celebrate with them when they are happy. Tell them “I understand how you feel.” Then follow up with, “It will be okay. I’m here for you.” Being an emotionally supportive partner is one the most attractive qualities you can acquire.
Life gets crazy. Love can make us feel crazy. However, you and your partner are not crazy. You will disagree with your partner. You will fight. You may think that the way they fold the towels is crazy or that putting the forks pointing up in the dishwasher is crazy (in which case I would agree with you!) Their actions may seem crazy to you, but they are not a crazy person. Recognize the difference between the action and the person to minimize the craziness and help strengthen your relationship.
This crazy little thing called love can be complicated and complex. To keep the love alive and well in your relationship try some of these sweet suggestions. If you need more guidance on strengthening and improving your relationship come on in for a session, I am here to help!