Making sure your relationship stays great means being proactive about keeping things happy, healthy, and stimulating. Couples who ignore the work necessary to maintain the spark and passion that was all so easy in the first year can put their relationship in peril by falling into a routine. Don’t let that happen to your relationship!
So, what are the top ten most important things in a relationship you need to pay attention to so your relationship stays fresh, interesting and vibrant?
1. Accept your partner as they are, in all their spectacular humanness
There is a time in every relationship where all the quirks that you found so cute and adorable during your first year of courtship become annoying. The way they clear their throat or have to have their butter spread “just so” on their piece of toast, or how they must only have their dressing on the side, never directly on their salad.
Acceptance of these things is important for a long-term relationship. No one is perfect, but hopefully all the wonderful things about your partner outweigh the less-wonderful, otherwise, you wouldn’t be with them, right?
So when your partner starts showing you just how human they are, keep on loving them unconditionally.
2. Remember how you interacted the first year you were dating
Take a lesson from that and incorporate some of those seductive behaviors into your interactions with your partner. If you are now prone to slipping on the sweats and an old, stained university T-shirt the minute you get home from work, think twice about that.
Sure, it’s comfortable. But wouldn’t it be nice for your partner to come home to the person you were during the early months of the relationship?
A flattering outfit, pretty makeup, a spritz of lovely perfume? We aren’t saying you should become a Stepford Wife, but a little self-pampering will make you feel better about yourself and show your partner that you care about how he views you, too.
When was the last time you went on a special date-like evening? Book a nice restaurant, put on a little black dress, and meet your partner there, just like when you were first getting together.
3. Take time each week to have a real discussion
Sure, you both talk about your day when you see each other each evening. The answer is usually “Everything was fine.” That doesn’t help to connect you on a deep level, does it?
One of the keys to keeping a relationship great is a great conversation, the kind where you exchange ideas, or remake the world, or just listen to differing points of views, acknowledging the other’s way of seeing and understanding.
Having meaningful conversations—about politics, current events, or just the book you are reading—will reinforce your bond and remind you of how interesting and intelligent your partner is.
4. Keep things sexy
We aren’t talking bedroom antics here. (We will get to those shortly!). We are talking about all the little things you can do to keep things sexy (and stop doing things that are unsexy) in the relationship.
Take a tip from Frenchwomen, who never let their partner see them brushing their teeth. Unpleasant things that couples do because they have “passed the probation period’, like passing gas openly, or cutting their fingernails while watching TV? Unsexy.
It’s perfectly fine and in fact good for a relationship for you to do certain things in private.
5. Keep sex on your radar
If sex is dwindling or non-existent, ask yourselves why? There may be a perfectly legitimate reason for the absence of lovemaking.
But if there isn’t a specific reason as to why it has been ages since you two did the horizontal boogie, pay attention. Happy couples report that they make sex a priority. Even if one or the other is not in the mood, they still make it a point to cuddle and touch—and it often results in lovemaking.
The intimate connection afforded by lovemaking is vital to the health of your relationship so don’t go too long without it. If you have to schedule sex on the calendar, so be it.
6. Fight fair
Great couples fight, but they fight fair. What does that mean? It means that they give air time to both parties, allowing each person to express their opinions and views. They don’t interrupt, and they listen attentively, showing this by nodding or saying ‘I understand what you are saying’. Their goal is to find an agreeable compromise or resolution, one that is acceptable to both parties.
Their goal is not to denigrate the other person, or bring up past grievances, or speak disrespectfully to them. And don’t make the mistake of thinking that fights do not belong in a great relationship.
If you never fight, you clearly aren’t communicating enough.
7. Say sorry
Do you know the power of the two words “I’m sorry” is one of the most healing in the world? Be generous with your multiple “I’m sorry”. It is often just what it takes to stop a heated argument from escalating. It also has the power to bring you closer together.
Don’t follow it with a “but…..” I’m sorry is enough, all on its own.
8. Small gestures of love reap big rewards
Even if you have been together for 25 years, small tokens of your gratitude towards your partner are important.
Some flowers, favorite candies, a pretty bracelet you saw at the Farmer’s market…all of these offerings tell your partner they were on your mind at that moment and you are grateful for their presence in your life.
9. No relationship is 100% loving and passionate all the time
It is important to be realistic about the ebbs and flows in a relationship and not jump ship the first (or the 50th) time you are in one of the low periods. It is here where the real work of reinforcing your love is done.
10. Love your partner, and love yourself, too
Good, healthy relationships are made up of two good and healthy people. Do not erase yourself to accommodate the relationship, or it will fail.
Practice self-care so you can be wholly present for your partner, in mind, body, and spirit.
Wondering, what are the top ten most important things in a relationship? Well! You got your answer.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.