They are SO easy — so no excuses.
By Mia Ranard
Most of the relationship advice I hear or read about is either focused on sex or conversation. And while these two aspects are vital to being able to physically and emotionally connect with your partner, they tend to be the ones that people are already stressing about and trying to improve.
But aren’t there even more basic things that you can do? Things that don’t require any work on your partner’s part? (Yes, you can try to improve your sex life and have more intimate and frequent conversations with your partner, but unless they are putting energy into it too it’s not going to improve.)
Here are 6 things you can and should do every day to strengthen your relationship with your partner.
1. Be Honest
This doesn’t mean that you have to tell your partner every little thing that happens in your day or about that $7 sugar filled treat you got yourself as a guilty pleasure. It simply means, tell the truth, especially when it comes to your feelings.
If you are feeling particularly vulnerable at work, let your partner know that you are worried your boss isn’t happy with your performance. If you have a feeling that something more is going on with your dad’s health than he is telling you, voice your concerns. If you worry that the kids are taking your focus away from your partner, tell him or her how that makes you feel.
Don’t accuse, or get emotionally charged, just express your feelings honestly. This will help take some of the weight off of your shoulders and will keep your partner from having to guess at what is bothering you.
2. Touch Them
Stop focusing on sex and start focusing on connection.
Take a moment to think about how often you and your partner touch. You may be surprised that it is mainly isolated to a compulsory kiss before leaving for work or in bed at night. If your schedules are at odds, you may find that you don’t touch at all on some days.
Try to touch more often. Make it a measurable goal if you have to. Hold hands, rub their back, caress their face, hug them. The more your bodies come in contact in positive and loving ways, the more connected you will feel. And, as a result of not focusing on sex, you’ll probably find this naturally leads to more of it.
3. Make Eye Contact
In line with touching more often, you should make an effort to actually look in your partner’s eyes.
This may sound ridiculous, but again if you take a moment to really pay attention to how you interact with your partner I bet you will discover that you often talk to each other while multi-tasking around the house or watching tv. You talk about your day and ask questions as you are getting food out of the fridge to make dinner, or as you are giving the kids a bath or putting laundry in the wash. And while you are multi-tasking your eyes are focused on what you are doing with your hands and not who you are talking to.
Talking, or even being around someone, without making eye contact automatically adds distance between you. You may as well be talking on the phone or in completely different rooms. Did you ever notice when you were a teenager, that the first step to kissing someone was to look in their eyes? There is a kind of magnetism that comes with eye contact. It allows you to connect in a much more intimate way.
So, as cheesy as it may sound, if you want to reconnect with your partner try looking in their eyes more often.
4. Be Active
Get out of the damn house and exercise. Even better if you do it with your partner, but going at it alone will have it’s benefits as well.
Exercise has been shown time and time again to do more for our emotional and mental wellbeing than almost anything else. It improves our mood, improves our health, and improves our confidence.
All of these things will have a positive impact on your relationship. The more active you are, the more enjoyable you’ll be to be around. And by valuing yourself and your health, you are subtly letting your partner know that you are worth valuing AND that you value your relationship. Because nothing says I don’t care more than wasting your life away on the couch and willingly letting your health deteriorate.
And this doesn’t mean that you need to go run a marathon everyday. If you or your partner aren’t a big fan of exercise or sports you can get your activity in by walking the dogs, hiking at the park, or spending the summers swimming at the lake. Heck, you can even use your trips to the flea market or museum as an excuse to get some extra walking in.
What’s important is that you take care of yourself, and that you find a way to spend some time being activewith your partner outside of the house.
5. Follow Your Passion
If you aren’t spending time doing what you love, that frustration is going to spill over into your relationship. Find a way to incorporate your passion into your schedule. Whether it be finding a job that actually speaks to your talents and interests or making time once a week to write music and play your guitar, put it on your list of priorities.
And the flip side of this is that you need to allow your spouse time to follow his or her passion. If you have kids, that might mean that you each take one night a week to watch the kids so that other one can have a night off to do their thing.
Not only will this allow you each to have a little down time to do something you love, but it also allows you time to experience time as an individual. While this might seem counterproductive, having time to nurture yourself as an individual can be a big boost to your relationship.
6. Put Your Partner First, Sometimes
Nothing makes someone feel loved more than having someone put their needs in front of their own.
You don’t have to think of your partners needs before you own all the time, nor should you, but doing so occasionally can speak more than words. And I promise, they will take notice of your effort!
Try mixing in small and big favors and gifts of time. Buy their favorite beer or bottle of wine while you are grocery shopping. Take the time to clean or freshen their retreat/relaxation space at home by lighting candles right before they come home or putting on their favorite music. If they have a furry companion that they love, make an effort to show them love too and maybe even get them a treat or new toy. Maybe take the kids on a day trip so your partner can have the house to themselves for the day to relax and do whatever they want.
And don’t forget that time is just as valuable as money. If your budget is tight or you are saving for a new house or car as a couple, don’t waste money on superficial things to show your love. Instead, offer up your time to do something they dislike or to allow them to do something they normally don’t have time to.
These are just a few of many little changes you can make that will make a big difference in your relationship. Just taking the time to notice how you are interacting and connecting with your partner will likely have a positive impact.
This article was originally published at The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission from the author.