In the early days, relationships are passionate and thrilling, and the sparks come easily. With time, however, they can become weathered by the world around us. As we grow up, we accumulate responsibilities that can drain our energy and leave us less time for the pursuit of magic and adventure.
Even the strongest and most loving partnerships can sometimes start to feel disconnected. So – how do you keep your bond strong through the rigors of life?
Here are five ways to stay connected to your partner:
1. Turn off your phone.
Often, professionals fail to disconnect from the office when they go home at night. Your partner does not want to share your limited time together with your work responsibilities. Even if it is not a career issue, many people have trouble disconnecting from parenting websites, political articles, or silly games. This is an even more alarming reason to neglect your relationship. Institute an “unplugged” time each day – even if it is only an hour. Hide your phones, turn off the TV, and let the computer screen go to black. Just talk to one another. You’ll be surprised at the difference this makes.
2. Create your own “I love you.”
This could be anything. You might have a secret handshake, roar at your partner, or have a code word. The important thing is that it sends a message of love and is exclusive to the two of you. Don’t even share it with the kids – you can have your own thing with them. This is only for you and your significant other. Use it liberally. Show your love in public this way, and revel in the idea that nobody around you knows what it means. This is a fun way to build a secret world that is only inhabited by the two of you.
3. Schedule time for your relationship.
In our busy lives, we all too often over-schedule ourselves with family, friends, and volunteer commitments before throwing whatever scraps are left over to our partner. Instead, institute a regular date night. This can be weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly, but it needs to be non-negotiable. This should be a time that is set aside exclusively for the two of you to reconnect. No children can come along – hire a babysitter. No friends may meet up with you at the restaurant. No family members can tag along for the movie. Try not to discuss work or raising the children. This night should be all about fun and connection – just like your date nights in the early years were.
4. Good fences make good partners.
Many people seem to think that the happiest couples want to be together every second of the day, sharing every detail of their lives with one another and never having anything for themselves. This belief is simply untrue, and it can be damaging. In fact, healthy boundaries are absolutely necessary for any good marriage. Don’t be afraid to ask for them, and treat your partner with respect when they do the same. Alone time is healthy, as are solo activities. They help you and your partner to maintain complete and independent identities. They help you to stay whole.
5. Institute a daily ritual.
Again, the details and logistics don’t matter. The important thing is that it connects you. Identify a moment of downtime in your day, and take advantage. Look forward to a daily lunchtime Skype session, or a cup of coffee together before work. Play a game of chess after dinner. Have a quick chat, prayer, or meditation session together each night before you fall asleep. In the midst of a busy workday, this will reconnect you and remind you both that someone out there has your back. Soon it might become your favorite part of the day.
“Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky,” said Rainer Maria Rilke. Seek to connect with one another as two individuals, and go on to build your own beautiful world together. Use the tips above to stay close on even the busiest of days. Your relationship is worth the effort.