Life can test all bonds, especially marriage. But when you’re feeling lonely, or you and your hubby just can’t seem to agree on anything, it’s often because you’re disconnected. Your love is just a little out of shape. It takes some exercising to get it toned and feeling fit again, but it’s well worth the sweat. Here are five ways to get your relationship back on track when you’ve fallen into a rough patch.
1. Get in the Right Mindset
If you recognize that you’re in a rough patch, then there’s time to lift yourself out of it. Take a deep breath, look around, and consider yourself lucky to notice. Let it be a wake-up call and use it as motivation to fine-tune your relationship, not as a sign that the end is near.
We all need wake up calls sometimes. Don’t punish him or yourself, just do what you need to get back to a better place.
2. Have Fun Together Again
Quality time is a must. Not a quick dinner before you have to rush off somewhere, but at least a couple of hours of undivided attention where you do something together that you both enjoy.
My husband and I love camping and going to the movies and dining al fresco – but we’re raising a full house so sometimes those things get pushed aside. When we’re feeling off and fighting a lot, putting life on hold and making the time to go hiking together, catch a new flick, or sit at a restaurant patio trying new appetizers refreshes our relationship. We haven’t been to a concert since conceiving our youngest (who is nearing his 2nd birthday), so that’s definitely on the list too.
When we’re fighting a lot, putting life on hold and doing something fun together refreshes our relationship.
Sure, couples spend a lot of time together, but it’s usually fulfilling obligations, and that just doesn’t count when flexing your romance muscles. It takes more to keep love thriving. You have to have fun and laugh together, which builds up your love bank of positive interactions. Marriage expert Dr. John Gottman discovered that happy and successful couples maintain the “magic ratio” of five (or more) positive interactions to every negative one. And bumping up your positive number is easy to do when you’re both enjoying yourselves.
3. Check In with Each Other
Things get rough when you don’t communicate. This doesn’t mean gabbing a man’s ear off. Communication is so much more than words. It means leaning on his shoulder when you sit near each other, stopping to give him a hug and a kiss during a busy day, or sending him sexy texts while he hides in the bathroom.
It also means being honest with yourself. You have to recognize your role and responsibility and act the part. If he’s shirking his duties, calmly discuss it with him without blame or bitterness. Don’t be afraid to express your needs and desires, but be receptive to his as well. Be attentive to each other’s bids for attention and affection, and do your best to respond positively.
4. Look Back on the Journey To Keep It Going
Remember the good times. In parenting we’re often told, “everything’s a phase.” This helps us get through sleepless nights and tantrums, but it’s not just for parenting. Sure, our relationship isn’t changing and growing as fast as a toddler is, but it can’t remain frozen in time either. It requires flexibility, strength, and periods of rest.
Looking back has the power to renew a great love.
If you’re too tired to go out again, and you’re both mentally exhausted from information overload, break out the old wedding album. Tell each other your favorite stories from when you were dating. Sing your favorite love songs to each other or just watch a shaky home video (you know the kind, where the audio is horrid and everyone was filmed at the wrong angle). Looking back on your positive experiences together can stir up warm, fuzzy feelings of nostalgia, admiration, gratitude – all good things to combat any contempt creeping in. Looking back has the power to renew a great love.
5. Do Something New
Is it true that “the couple that plays together stays together”? Research seems to indicate so.
Anthropologist Helen Fisher says, "Research shows that novelty – taking risks or trying something new – can trigger the release of dopamine in the brain. I'm not just talking about novelty in the bedroom (although that would be a good start). You can get the same effect from sampling a new type of cuisine together or riding the roller coaster at an amusement park."
So get out and do something you’ve never done together. Take a trip. Ride a long bike trail together. Eat at that fancy restaurant you’ve been wanting to try for years. Sharing new experiences keeps the adventure of love strong and healthy. It pushes us to do the heavy lifting with ease. Best of all, these new events lead to more happy memories that give your relationship the power to move mountains.
Sometimes the effort we’re putting into our relationships gets misdirected. Sometimes we get tired and just need a break. Whatever has got you in a love rut, find a way to have fun with your man, check in with him, get your head right, remember the good times, and never stop embarking on new adventures together.
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