Sometimes, improving your relationship is as simple as completing a to-do list.
With the demands of every day life, it can be hard to remember some of the simple things that keep our relationships strong. But if you make caring actions a priority, they will soon become habit and lead to a fulfilling and happy partnership. Give these 9 tips a try, and watch how they transform your relationship:
1. Give each other the benefit of the doubt: Giving each other the benefit of the doubt ranks highly on the list of 9 things to do to improve your relationship. Yet, this is often easier said than done. The reason I say this is because our families often get the worst of us; to completely plagiarize MTV, we really do stop being polite and start getting real. However, something as simple as giving your spouse or partner the benefit of the doubt can make an extraordinary difference.
2. Have outside interests: Outside interests doesn’t mean your secretary. Instead, outside interests refer to hobbies, activities or groups of friends. You can use these outside interests to do thing together (go for a hike, take a painting class, join a curling club), or use them to spend some time apart. No matter how much you’re in love, spending time apart is conducive to making a relationship healthy.
3. Be spontaneous: Both men and women have a little bit of Indiana Jones inside of them (well, except for Calista Flockhart…she has A LOT). In other words, they like adventure, excitement and being spontaneous. Sitting on the couch not talking to each other doesn’t make for an exciting relationship, going out and living life does.
4. Take a vacation: Another important point on the list of 9 things to do to improve your relationship has to do with taking time to be together. Some couples prefer to do this with a vacation — cruising to the Bahamas or spending a long weekend in New York. Others prefer to do a staycation, simply spending some time in a hometown hotel or a local spa. But, whatever you choose, choose something; taking a break will keep you from breaking.
5. Give a gift just because: Partners who have been in a relationship for a long time are often great at giving gifts when they’re supposed to. Their Christmas presents are thoughtful, and their anniversary gifts are exceptional. But, a relationship can also benefit from giving a gift just because. When you do this, you have the element of surprise on your side and even those who claim to not like surprises usually do.
6. Ditch your kids: You love your kids, but even then it’s nice to have some 18-and-over time. This is because when your kids are around, you innately focus on them and not your partner; you zone in on your kids’ needs, their desires and whether or not they are eating dog food from Rover’s dish. Spending some time without them, on the flipside, allows you to focus purely on each other.
7. Work together: Actually working together (as in having his and her cubicles side by side) isn’t likely to be on any 10 things to do to improve your relationship list. The fact is, even the strongest couples have difficulty going into the office together day after day. Instead, the type of working together you should do to solidify your relationship involves all the things that come with a partnership: taking care of your children, picking up around the house, paying the bills. If you don’t work as a team, and, as a result, one person ends up doing all of the work, your relationship itself will be work…lots and lots of work.
8. Be affectionate: It almost goes without saying that s*x is part of a relationship; without it, one can argue that you’re masquerading as lovers, but acting like roommates. Yet, intimacy isn’t limited to s*x; kisses goodbye, hugs for no reason and walks hand in hand are also important. A little affection has the power to speak volumes, going much farther than you might think.
9. Let things go: Most people are wired to hold grudges and bring up the past, but not letting go of the past often prevents couples from moving forward. This isn’t to say that you should forget every way your other half as ever wronged you, but repeatedly bringing up how — 6 years ago — your spouse made hurtful comments about your grandmother’s unibrow isn’t going to be particularly helpful to any conversation.