Once you’ve found the love of your life, you may begin to wonder how to keep the passion alive. If you desire to strengthen your love, there are a few steps you can take to keep your relationship fresh. Stef Safran, relationship expert and founder of Stef and the City, says strengthening a relationship will take some effort.
Here are some secrets to developing a strong relationship that will last the test of time.
1. Keep exes out of the picture
Do your best not to mention past loves. This is a quick way to dampen the passion and possibly dig up some insecurities and resentment. Chris Armstrong, relationship coach and founder of relationship site Maze of Love, says it’s best to keep silent when it comes to exes:
You must not talk about exes unless the general topic comes up, and even then don’t talk negatively about an ex. There is a big difference between talking about who you’ve dated or the last time you dated and badmouthing the person or complaining about how bad it was. What impression do you think this leaves the other person?
2. Don’t ditch date night
Keep doing the things that attracted you to each other in the beginning. Don’t stop dating each other because you’ve gotten comfortable. Safran explains why it’s important for partners to carve out time for each other:
Date nights are important. It matters that you take time out for each other and not only spend time together as a family but also as a couple. There shouldn’t be excuses; you need to get a sitter to allow you to take time for just the two of you. Take a vacation — just the two of you. Do things together that just the two of you enjoyed when you were dating.
3. Change your surroundings
Avoid falling into a relationship rut. Sometimes couples can fall into a comfortable pattern of doing the same things every day. Relationship expert and LoveQuest Marketing founder Lisa Concepcion says it’s important to shake things up a bit and move out of your comfort zone every now and then. Concepcion told The Cheat Sheet:
Travel! Even if it’s a road trip. New surroundings and getting away from routines is healthy and a great way to bond. Also live weekends as if you’re on vacation. Do as many errands as possible during the week and early on weekends so that by noon on Saturday you can just chill and enjoy time together. We get into trouble when we put obligations and “reality” ahead of how we feel.
4. Be thoughtful
Continue to be nice to each other and to anticipate each other’s needs. Nicole Harris, CEO of One Last Frog, says thoughtfulness can help a partner feel loved and nourished. “As a romantic date planner, I find that thoughtfulness goes a long way. So personalize your date, let him or her know that you care and you pay attention to their life. You don’t have to give a grand gesture, as long as it is from the heart and memorable,” said Harris.
5. Don’t expect your partner to read your mind
One potential cause of friction in a relationship is expecting your partner to be able to act a certain way or do certain things without you having to ask. This is unrealistic and dangerous to the health of your relationship. Eric Resnick, online dating coach and owner of ProfileHelper.com, warns against this behavior.
Your partner is not a mind reader. There’s a lot of things that we say inside our own heads during a relationship. Sometimes it’s something good, like noticing how great your spouse looks on a certain day or in a certain outfit. Sometimes it’s not so great, like something they do that drives you crazy or something not so great going on in your life that you wish they’d pick up on and ask you about. You won’t, and they won’t.
If you are thinking it, say it. Missing the opportunity to say the good things can make your partner feel under-appreciated, and each time you miss the opportunity to deal with the bad things, you just add another brick in the wall that is growing between you.
6. Work on yourself
It will be hard to have a strong, healthy relationship if you don’t have a good relationship with yourself. Concepcion explains it’s vital to work on accepting yourself before you put your energy into nurturing a relationship:
The secret to a lasting relationship is always making your primary relationship the one with yourself. Meaning, you cannot hold your partner to conditions where they are required to behave in a certain way to make you happy. You must find a way to create happiness for yourself then love them from a happy, solid, grounded place.
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[Editor’s Note: This story was originally published July 2016]