Fighting all the time? Have more interest in your iPhone than your significant other? Sounds like you may be in a relationship rut. While you may long for the early days when you couldn’t wait to get naked and wouldn’t dream of spoiling a day together by arguing, relationship ruts are completely normal. No matter how much you love someone or how passionate you are toward each other, your relationship will naturally go through highs and lows over time. This ebb and flow is natural, but it may still lead you to question your partner and the future of your relationship.
When you’re in a rut, the key is to find a way to get back on track by making the effort to reignite the fire that once existed between you two. One study found that long-term intense love was formed when both partners thought positively about each other and spent time thinking about the other person when they were apart. When combined with being affectionate, maintaining a good sex life, and sharing challenging activities, these qualities made for long-term happiness. Here are some small, doable ways to get there.
1. Create a “Couple’s Bucket List”
Chances are you already have a list of all the things you want to do and see in the world. As you know, it can be thrilling to cross something off the list or work toward one of your lifelong goals. Extend this excitement to your relationship. Come up with a list of things you want to do together. They can be as small as checking out a Sunday farmer’s market or as big as traveling around the world together. Whatever they are, share your biggest dreams with each other and start taking small steps to make them a reality. By working toward something as a couple, you will see significant growth in your passion for life and for each other.
2. Build up anticipation
If your sex life has taken a beating, you may need some help getting back to the days of afternoon sex and uncontrollable desire. One way to get there is by creating a little anticipation and interest. Start by building up your partner’s interest by letting them know you’re planning a sexy surprise later that evening. Plan out a hot night for the two of you, but don’t let your partner know the details. They’ll spend the whole day wondering what you’ve got up your sleeve and by the time you drop the surprise, they’ll be raring to go.
That’s right, by talking about and remembering the “good ole days” you can help develop a stronger relationship. One study done at Appalachian State University found that couples that laugh together and intentionally reminisce about shared funny experiences were more satisfied with their relationship than those who didn’t. The next time you’re laying in bed or sitting down for a meal, avoid talking about work or what needs to be done before the weekend, and instead spend time remembering how you met, your first date, or some of your craziest experiences as a couple.
4. Rethink the way you argue
If you’ve slipped into a fighting rut, you may feel like you’re stuck in a cycle of talking, arguing, yelling, and then talking some more without ever getting anywhere. This is because most people fight by launching the same insults and expressing their hurt in the same way while expecting different results. Take a moment to step back and think about what the core of the issue is, come up with a list of changes you’d like to see, and then put yourself in your partner’s shoes and consider how they feel about the issue. By taking a quiet moment to gather your thoughts and think about things from your partner’s perspective, you may see the situation in a new light. Use this pre-argument preparation to change what you say and how you say it so that you can make real progress.