Fact: relationships can be challenging. Whether you’ve been with your partner for only a few months or you’ve been married for several years, interpersonal dynamics can have their downsides. Unlike your early dating days, long-term relationships require extensive work to keep them going.
Many people opt for the relationship counselling Melbourne couples rely on to help them keep their relationships on track. In addition, there are several simple expert tips you can follow on your own to improve your relationship.
A Healthy Relationship Takes Work
As with many things in life, if you want your relationship to last, it will take an extensive amount of work. While it’s true that each relationship has its own dynamic, for most couples working to grow that initial spark, will create a stronger bond. Consider these helpful but easy tips.
1. Make Communication the Cornerstone
Every couple’s counsellor will agree on the same thing: that communication is the most crucial factor in determining the success of your relationship.
The longer you are in a relationship, the more routine normal conversation may seem. It may seem that you’ve heard all your partner’s life stories. You may also think you know how they feel about almost everything. This can often make it difficult to start a conversation about something new. To break the routine, try these suggestions:
- Something new: Make it a point to ask your partner something new every day, or even with each conversation. Instead of asking, “How was your day” rather ask “What was interesting about your day.” That opens the door for general conversation rather than just a one-word answer.
- Be engaging: Choose a point your partner mentions to create a new conversation. If for instance, they mention that they met a new client at work, instead of answering with a simple “OK”, ask questions to keep the conversation going. Make eye contact to show you’re genuinely interested.
2. Create a Monthly Date Night
Busy schedules are often to blame for couples not always finding adequate time for each other. One way to combat this is to create a specific night once a month to focus on reconnecting and strengthening your bond.
On these nights you should focus on doing something fun and different away from home. The idea is to escape from the stresses of your normal daily life, albeit only for a few hours.
Bonus: doing something new or different will also open the door for more engaging conversation.
Some fun ideas to try:
- Movie night/day away from home
- Dinner at a fancy restaurant – dress up!
- A picnic under the stars
- Go cycling
- Visit the beach
- Arrange a wine tasting at a local winery
3. Make Check-ins a Habit
At the beginning of your dating life, checking in with them wasn’t something anyone needed to remind you to do. Months or years down the line, however, communication is most likely about reminders to pick up bread on the way home.
Check-ins are a good way to clear the air if there are some underlying annoyances. If you feel tensions are building or your partner seems off, ask for a check-in. Sit down and discuss recent issues, triggers and brewing problems.
The more you do this, the less likely you are to have a nasty blow-out that’s based on weeks/months/years of built-up tensions. (Be sure NOT to do this on date night as it might ruin the whole date night experience.) An advantage of doing check-ins is that it’s an excellent way to determine if you need the couples counselling Melbourne experts often recommend. If you can’t seem to work out issues on your own, there’s no shame in asking for some help.
4. Don’t Forget the Small Things
Contrary to popular advice, life isn’t only about the big moments. It’s important to take note of the small stuff as well. The easiest way to do this is to pay attention.
- When you see your partner looking at a new pair of shoes that’s out of their budget, make a mental note to secretly save up and buy it as a birthday or Christmas gift.
- If they mention a new restaurant opened in town, surprise them with a reservation on date night.
- Everyone has down days. If your partner is having one or going through a tough time at work, use small gestures to let them know you support them. A note in the lunch box or a chocolate on their bedside table perhaps?
- Attend to some of their errands when they’re working late, without fussing about it.
5. Don’t Hold onto Past Issues
Events from the past often make their way back into current arguments. By dredging through the past for ammunition to use in your current battle, you’re only setting yourself and your partner up for heartache. Forgive and move on!
If you’ve found a person who ticks all your boxes, they’re worth holding onto. But it will take some effort to keep that spark going. Follow a few (or all) of the tips we’ve suggested to keep your relationship fun and healthy!