As I reflect on my relationship (which I have been in now for over 16 years, more than a 1/3 of my life), I am so grateful for the fact that it doesn’t feel that long. In fact, the longer we’re in it, the better it gets. And as I take a step back to reflect, there are definitely some intentional things that we did that have kept us both happy, fulfilled, and feeling like the relationship is still fresh, new, and getting better with time.
So in honor of my 12th wedding anniversary and all of those couples in long-term committed relationships, here are A Dozen Great Ways to Keep Your Relationship Fresh:
1. Do not take each other for granted. – One of the first things that fall away in a long-term relationship is an appreciation of one another and the contributions each makes to the family. Do not take for granted the role and contributions your partner makes.
2. Be sure to show appreciation. – This doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be an expectation of each person fulfilling their responsibilities to the family, it just means don’t forget to say “thank you”, “I appreciate you”, or “that was thoughtful of you”. Sometimes showing gratitude opens the door to a whole lot more and makes your partner feel inclined to do even more for you and the family because they feel their efforts are noticed and appreciated. By the same token, if you don’t show gratefulness it can close doors and will foster resentment and tension that can lead to problems.
3. Keep doing the little things. – Remember when you were dating and he would occasionally surprise you with flowers. Remember when you heard him say he wished he could see a favorite sports team play, so you surprised him with tickets. Remember when you would go to the store to pick up a few things and came back with a treat for your partner. Remember when you complimented how nice your partner looked before they left the house. Remember when you showed up at an important event or work thing for your partner, even when they said you didn’t have to. You did that then, and you should keep doing those things now. It’s the little things that keep the love alive and the fires stoked. It’s the little things that demonstrate love and caring for one another and it is those things over time that keep the love strong and the relationship fresh.
4. Stay true to yourself. – Your partner fell in love with you, so it is important that you keep some element of yourself about you at all times. By this I mean keep doing the things you did when you met. If you had a hobby keep doing it. If you liked to go running or cooking, keep doing those things too. Don’t allow yourself to get lost as you grow into more roles like, wife, husband, mother, father, and professional etc. Those roles just add to who you are, but at your core you remain the true person without titles that you were when you met. By maintaining some “element” of you, it keeps things interesting and it gives you a little space for yourself which is essential in any relationship.
5. Never stop chasing each other. – Also if you keep a little piece for yourself it gives your partner something to “chase” which is half the fun of dating anyway and will keep your partner chasing you for many years to come.
6. Maintain the attraction for one another. – Maintaining the attraction for one another is critical. There is lots of temptation out there making your ability to keep your eyes on each other more challenging.
7. Always to look and feel your best. – Taking care of yourself, trying to look and feel your best, and maintaining focus on your commitment, are all great ways to make sure you only have eyes for each other.
8. Maintain your physical health. – This is more for health reasons than anything else, but the physical spark can also dim if you don’t maintain your health. When you look and feel your best you are at your most appealing and your partner will respond to that.
9. Never stop touching. – Be physical, and I don’t just mean having sex as often as possible (which I am a proponent of). This also means touch, kiss, hold hands, put your arms around each other, cuddle, spoon, rub each other heads/feet, give massages, etc. Physical contact is one of the best ways to maintain intimacy with your partner. Physical touch helps you feel connected and in tune with one another which is necessary for keeping things fresh over time and continuing your desire for one another.
10. Make time for each other each day. – Life gets busy and responsibilities creep in taking time away from the things and people we love and cherish the most. And my response is don’t let it. Always keep your relationship first and carve out time for one another that nothing and no one can interrupt or change.
11. Designate a date night once a week. – Have a weekly date night, even if it is only a “Netflix and Chill” at home. And make sure you go out at least once a month. My husband and I have tried to stick with this throughout the years. Sometimes we fail but we always come back to it because we genuinely enjoy one another’s company and want to spend time with one another and do things together. For instance we are about to take dance classes together once every couple of weeks and plan to take lessons driving manual cars because it is something we have always wanted to do. Find something you and your partner want to do it, make it a priority, carve out the time, and do it.
12. Put in the work to maintain your relationship. – The bottom line is that there is no magic “trick” or “secret” to a good marriage or long-term relationship. Relationships take work, time, and regular maintenance like anything worth having. Keeping your relationship fresh is something you need to work on every day if you want your relationship to thrive, flourish, and stand the test of time.
Good luck and keep on loving!