What defines a good relationship? Is it weekly date nights and grand romantic gestures? Is it the promise of a happily ever after? Or maybe it’s the little things.
You unwittingly commit to growing and changing when you commit to someone. Moreover, you commit to helping each other navigate the highs and lows of day-to-day life.
And when the lows overshadow the highs, you commit to helping motivate your partner and uplift them from their misery.
Here are ten tips on how to help motivate your partner when they lose that wonderful spark in their eye.
10 ways to motivate your partner
“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. As cliche as this saying is, it reveals the key to successfully motivating your partner.
When it comes down to it, you can’t make your partner do anything they don’t want to do themselves. The most you can do is push them in the right direction. Here’s how:
1. Ask them about their goals
Before you ask yourself, “how to motivate my partner,” take a step back and think about what your partner needs motivation for in the first place. This might seem a little obvious, which is why it may skip many people’s minds.
In a committed relationship, it’s easy to fall into the trap of always knowing what’s best for your partner. News flash: you probably don’t. Even your partner might not know what their goals are.
If neither of you knows what their goals and aspirations are, how can you hope to motivate your partner?
Hence, goal-setting should be the first step toward building motivation. During this process, your partner might even realize they’re not passionate about what they’re doing, which is why they’ve lost the will to do it.
2. Help them strategize
Some tasks or goals can seem exceptionally daunting and overwhelming, making them appear undoable and unattainable. But when you break them down into mini tasks and goals, they become less scary.
Strategizing is not an easy thing to do without an outsider’s perspective. Unfortunately, your partner likely won’t be able to view their tasks as anything other than this behemoth mountain.
Hence, to motivate your partner, you need to help them turn this mountain back into a molehill.
3. Remind your partner about their past achievements
People tend to hold on to past failures more than their successes and achievements. While it is true that past failures can help us learn from our mistakes, our achievements are equally important reminders of our capabilities.
If your partner is down in the dumps, the chances are they’re dwelling too much on their shortcomings. They’re hyperfocused on what they can’t do but have forsaken the countless things they have already achieved.
Hence, sometimes, motivating your partner is as simple as reminding them how much they’ve already accomplished.
Doing so can help them realize how much they’re capable of achieving. By extension, your partner will recognize that a few momentary dips in productivity don’t define them.
Another way to help your partner remember their past achievements is by celebrating as they happen. For example, if they’ve completed a big work project or hit a new weight-lifting goal at the gym, make a big deal of it.
Always celebrate achievements to motivate your partner, no matter how big or small.
4. Understand what’s holding them back
If a certain task paralyzes your partner, try to determine the root cause of this paralysis. Is it the enormity of the task itself, or is something else holding them back? Once you trace the source of the problem, you can address the underlying issue and figure out how to motivate your man.
For example, you might discover that the task itself isn’t what’s troubling your partner. Instead, they had a falling out with their childhood best friend, and this great loss is weighing them down.
Or, let’s say that your partner has been pulling constant all-nighters and overworking themselves to exhaustion. In this case, you shouldn’t motivate your partner to pile on more work. Instead, your partner needs a long overdue break to recharge their batteries.
When probing your partner about what’s bothering them, try not to poke too hard. Instead, you must create a safe and comfortable environment to help them feel at ease talking about their troubles. If they’re not ready to talk, put a pin in the conversation until they are.
A prolonged absence of motivation might signal an underlying mental health issue. If this is the case with your partner, motivational speeches oozing with optimism won’t help them out.
Mental health and motivation are two sides of the same coin; declining mental health can lead to declining motivation, and vice versa. Many mental health disorders list “lack of motivation” as one of their defining symptoms.
Take depression, for example. If they are suffering from depression, no amount of pep talks will motivate your partner to do that thing they’ve been putting off. Hence, your concern shouldn’t be how to motivate your partner to start their pending work but how to motivate your life partner overall.
While your support is undoubtedly an essential factor, you must encourage your partner to seek professional help for their mental ailments.
Physical health is equally as important as mental health in replenishing motivation reserves. Countless studies have shown the feel-good effects of exercise, which produce feel-good hormones, biochemicals, and neurotransmitters in our bodies.
Exercise doesn’t just help you lose weight or build strength. On the contrary, the biggest hidden benefit of exercise is mood improvement.
When we exercise, our body produces serotonin, norepinephrine, and endorphins.
Serotonin is an essential life-sustaining hormone that regulates vital body functions. This includes mood, sleep, digestion, bone health, immune system, and sex drive. Likewise, norepinephrine helps the body respond appropriately to stress and anxiety.
Moreover, the endorphin levels in our bodies shoot up after hitting the gym, which helps improve our sense of well-being.
But you might be wondering how to motivate a lazy partner to exercise. Simple: exercise with them. Initially, you’ll have to drag them out of the house. Over time, though, exercising will become a part of their routine, and you’ll mutually motivate each other to get into tip-top shape.
The comfort zone is a double-edged sword. While there’s nothing wrong with staying in your comfort zone, you must venture out from time to time. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on a lot of potential growth and kill your ambition.
If you’re wondering how to motivate your partner to be more ambitious, you need to help them step out of their comfort zone.
While doing so, be careful not to push them too far. Usually, fear, anxiety, or even past trauma can shackle a person to their comfort zone. Your role is to act as their refuge and help them realize they don’t have to face this big, scary world alone.
8. Don’t put too much pressure on your partner
If you’re wondering how to motivate an unmotivated partner, you must draw the line between healthy encouragement and putting too much pressure on them. If you do the latter, your partner will likely sink deeper into their gloomy abyss.
Often, you might not realize that you’re putting unattainable expectations on your partner. In your eyes, your partner can do anything they set their mind to, and you’re only reminding them of it.
But this approach is ultimately counterproductive.
Your partner might feel like they’re letting you down and constantly falling short of your expectations. Hence, they might crumble under pressure you unknowingly placed on them.
9. Praise them without overdoing it
Positive reinforcement isn’t merely a dog training technique or a disciplining tool for young children. On the contrary, everyone can benefit from positive reinforcement.
Positive reinforcement is a fancier way of saying praise. It is the process of establishing a desired pattern of behavior by offering a reward when the behavior is performed.
For example, let’s say your boyfriend has trouble getting out of bed and getting on with his day. But one day, he manages to do it. You’ll be ecstatic and wonder how to encourage your boyfriend to keep it up.
It’s simple: praise him for it, be it verbal praise, a heartfelt present, or an activity you know he enjoys. Eventually, the thing he so dreads will become something that brings him joy. Hence, he’ll want to do it over and over again.
But a common pitfall with praise is overdoing it. If you over-reward your partner, he won’t feel the need to earn that reward and will fall back into old habits.
10. Differentiate between motivation and control
Finally, it would help if you remembered that you and your partner must motivate, not control each other. But what’s the difference?
When you try to badger or control your partner, they might feel like they have no agency. Moreover, they might feel pressured and even disrespected by you. They might do things to please you momentarily but won’t feel the need to do them when you’re not around.
But when you motivate your partner, you instill healthy, sustainable behaviors in them. Hence, they’ll do things because they want to, not because you forced them.
Discover the different ways you can stop trying to be a controlling partner in this video by mental health expert Dr. John Delony:
People can’t always be the best, optimal, ideal versions of themselves. Watching your partner go through a low point can be heartbreaking when you’re in a relationship.
But you don’t have to sit around and watch them get worse. Instead, you need to motivate your partner to get back on the horse.
Remember that your role is to motivate your partner, not control or pressure them into doing what you think is best for them.
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.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.