Get ready! Your relationship is about to get so FUN again!
Does your relationship feel stale? Tired of the same-old, same-old? Join the club! Over half of the couples I coach complain that their relationship is in a funk.
Habits and patterns of behavior make us feel comfortable in daily life perhaps, but going through the motions on autopilot quickly zaps the joy out of relationships. In fact, research reveals that a dull, daily routine not only creates distance and unhappiness, but also squashes intimacy and romance.
Worse, boredom has the potential to become even more corrosive than direct conflict.
Fortunately, there's good news. Ruts can turn into something remarkably easy—and tons of fun—for you and your partner to bust out of. Here's how:
1. Go for goose bumps.
Trying something new and exciting on a regular basis goes a long way in breaking the monotony and turning the heat back up in your relationship. How so? Scientists say that new experiences activate the brain's reward system, flooding it with dopamine and norepinephrine. These are the very same brain circuits that fired intensely at the beginning of your relationship and made you feel giddy and so madly in love.
Anything that's new or interesting—or even slightly scary—should do the trick. Ride a roller coaster, go skinny-dipping in the dark, park somewhere and make love in the back seat of your car, or go to a karaoke bar and sing a duet together.
Not the adventurous type? No worries. Sign up for salsa dancing lessons, stop for lunch someplace you've never been before, or spread a blanket on the floor and have a picnic supper.
2. Turn off the TV.
Considering the hustle-bustle lifestyle you live, it's easy to make a habit of parking your butt in front of the TV to unwind at the end of a long day at work (even when there's nothing on except reruns). This is a big mistake, since TV binging sends you spiraling into a zoned-out stupor. I call TV a "distraction without interaction" because it does very little to keep couples bonded and connected.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Mass Communication and Society, addiction to the boob tube jeopardizes your relationship in another surprising way. Scientists found that the more you believe in the romantic relationships you see on TV, the less likely you are to feel happy in your own!
A rut-busting alternative? Try music instead. Tune in, turn it up, and let it turn you on. Even better, ask your partner to slow dance (bonus points!!).
3. Split up!
If you worry that spending a weekend away from your partner or having a night out with friends is harmful to your relationship, think again. Couples who spend too much time together are the ones most at risk for falling into a funk. Your relationship needs to breathe.
According to studies at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, one of the best-kept secrets among happy, long-married couples is: "We give each other space." In fact, psychologist and study author Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., believes that having enough space or privacy in a relationship is more important for a couple's happiness than having a good sex life.
So, for a change of pace, spend an evening apart every week or so—with gal pals or guy friends, or pursuing an activity you enjoy personally. Missing your partner helps remind you how important he or she is to you. Spending solo time enjoying your individual passions also re-ignites your attraction, giving the two of you something new and exciting to share when you reunite.
4. Take a mini-vacation together.
What better way to bust a rut than with a change of scenery? Regardless of your destination, hitting the road takes you out of your day-to-day routine and allows you to spend more quality time together.
Not surprisingly, a recent survey conducted by the U.S. Travel Association reveals that a whopping 77 percent of couples who travel together have better sex and more romance than those who don't. If that's not enough to make you want to get away, 28 percent said their sex lives improved after traveling—and of those, 40% insisted that traveling turned the heat up in their relationships permanently.
5. Double your pleasure with double dating.
Date nights are great, but when it's just the two of you it's hard not to have the same conversations over and over again. That been-there, done-that feeling quickly leads you into a funk. To reboot your relationship, schedule a double date.
Researchers at Wayne State University found that spending time with other twosomes can help you rekindle passion with your partner. There is one catch, though—you need to hang with a couple that you feel comfy engaging in good, deep conversation with to reap these benefits.
Scientists speculate that when you spill positive stuff about yourselves to other couples, this reinforces the closeness you feel with your partner. Lead study author Keith Welker, PhD, says having other couples respond positively to you and your partner can give you a fresh, positive view of your significant other and your relationship.
6. Do something spontaneous.
A kiss or a hug from your partner when you come home from work, a Saturday morning quickie, or ending date night with a roll in the hay? Uhh ... yawn! Not to say that these rituals of affection aren't important, but they quickly start to seem stale after awhile. When faced with an unexpected romantic gesture, however, watch out.
According to a British study, spontaneous frisky moves led to twice as much kissing and cuddling, as well as a 33 percent increase in bedroom action. What's more, the number of couples having sex on a daily basis quadrupled and those not having sex at all decreased by half.
Wait, there's more! Impromptu romantic behaviors were also found to boost confidence and communication within a relationship, thus increasing overall happiness levels by 20 percent. So, ditch the routine and carpe diem.
For more tips on how to bust out of your relationship rut, visit Todd's Experts page to order a copy of his bestselling book, Conversation is Sexy.