In the first flush of romance, most couples are happy just to be together, but fast forward five years and things are probably a bit more complicated. You settle into a routine, children might have made their appearance, and even though both partners are committed to the relationship, they find that they are starting to drift apart.
Relationships sometimes lose their magic because the partners focus on all the other aspects of their lives without realising that the partnership needs attention and hard work too. Here are 10 ways in which partners can put in the work to “drift-proof” their relationships:
1. Invest in mutual hobbies You must have had some things in common when you first met, but it’s easy for these things to fall by the wayside as your careers and child raising take over. Make a point of identifying the things that you both used to enjoy doing together and find the time to keep doing them. Or, if you’ve outgrown your old mutual interests, find new leisure activities to take up together.
2. Go to bed at the same time Keeping the same sleep and waking cycles is important for the health of your relationship. It will mean that you have the same energy levels for shared activities, and makes things like cuddling, intimacy and end-of-day conversation come more naturally.
3. Don’t be afraid to schedule intimacy If you and your partner are starting to feel like ships passing in the night, and you never seem to quite be in the mood for intimacy, establish a routine. Every Sunday and second Tuesday night, have a nice bath, pull on some sexy underwear and get intimate with your partner. Have fun!
4. Have regular date nights Don’t limit your scheduling skills to intimacy. Make sure that you diarise special time to spend together – whether you go out to dinner and a movie or just cook a candlelit dinner at home – and just take the time to enjoy each other’s company.
5. Prioritise communication Busy couples often avoid confrontation because they don’t have the time for an argument or the energy to work through the issue. But it is vital that nagging relationship issues are addressed, so make the time to do so. Breakfast is a great time to discuss problems, because it gives you the rest of the day to cool down and think about things properly...
6. Support their passions or help with their stresses If your partner has something that they love doing, or something that they hate doing but have to, just be there for them. Be interested, enthusiastic and supportive.
7. Be willing to compromiseYou and your partner will disagree on certain issues. Don’t dig your heels in if you’re not getting what you want. Try to meet them halfway so that you both come out of the disagreement with some wins and some loses.
8. Give yourself space to be completely you It’s important to allow yourself time outside of your relationship and the routine of daily life to develop your own interests and be with your friends. Not only is it great to expose yourself to different people, places and ideas; it also gives you and your partner something to talk about when you get home.
9. Fight constructively No one puts their best foot forward when they are fighting, but try to fight in ways that resolve rather than exacerbate the issue you are disagreeing about. Try to stick to the matter at hand rather than resorting to personal attacks. And if you can’t be nice in the moment, remember to apologise later.
10. Don’t push your partner’s buttons There are things that they do that drive you crazy. And things that you do that you know upsets them. Don’t resort to snide comments in response to their bad habits, and try to work on reducing yours. Make a conscious effort to tackle problems head on, and try to be positive and supportive the rest of the time.
Successful relationships take work – from both sidesIf your partner is starting to feel like a distant stranger living under the same roof, then pay attention to these points and see if you can apply them to your own life. Just remember that successful relationships are a two-way street and if your efforts don’t result in the same levels of investment from your partner, it might be time to refer to points 5 and 9!