Relationships tend to be a not-so-subtle dance between suffering and boredom, with a few seemingly lucky couples who appear to “have it made”. What’s often unknown about those unusual few, is that they systematically approach their relationships with proven methods for keeping their connection alive and sustainable with joy. It’s about one in ten couples who is truly having fun. Yet what they do differently from the rest is actually quite simple.
Here are five easy tips to add a new layer of playfulness and deeper intimacy to any relationship.
- Planning gives couples a way to visualize and anticipate something exciting together. Always plan something in the future regardless of money now. It could be a vacation, a purchase, or a remodel, and it could be five years out. Plan it anyway. Before it completes, plan the next thing.
- Anytime you find yourself becoming annoyed by your partner’s habits, interrupt the pattern with a new behavior. For example, if your partner forgets to wipe up a spill, do a little dance and wipe it up for them. Soon you’ll find amusement instead of annoyance in their bad habits. You can’t change other people, but you can change yourself.
- Remember that little things in a relationship add up. Do something every day to remind your partner that you appreciate them. It could be as simple as a torn piece of paper taped to the bathroom mirror or left on the windshield that says, “I love you.”
- Plan a weekly date night or, at a minimum, a monthly one. Plan a simple date night might mean throwing a blanket on the ground or your living room floor like a picnic and eating a meal on it. It could mean moving the TV to another room and setting it up like you are at the theater. Put a label on your bowl of popcorn that says, “POPCORN” for a laugh.
- Learn to play with your partner. Find odd moments to smile at them when you wouldn’t normally. Let them wonder what you’re up to. Bring back a little mystery.
Human beings have fundamental needs, including everything from love to newness, to consistency and significance, among other needs. By understanding that your partner has fundamental needs, you can contribute to these with deliberate and appropriate attention. Who doesn’t want to be a substantial part of their partner’s needs being met?
Like your partner, you also have fundamental human needs, and by understanding your own, you may be able to easily meet them without their help. When something doesn’t seem to go your way, it may be resolved with a simple shift in perception. If, for example, your partner is not meeting your need for newness, you may be able to seek the realization of that need by learning a new skill or by taking a day to yourself to explore. By taking responsibility for your own needs, you can let your partner off the hook and still feel fulfilled.
No amount of pressure on a partner usually fulfills needs in a lasting way if you negatively stress them without clarity. Clarity is power. If your partner doesn’t have the same primary needs as you, you may find that they forget to give you what you expect. If you have the need for love and that is usually met through your partner’s touch, yet your partner has the need for significance, and they get that met through verbal praise, you may be pushing “your way” on someone with a completely different understanding of what it means to serve one another.
We each require our own unique balance of basic human needs. In most cases, a couple of these needs will rise higher in priority than the others for any one individual. By looking closely at your partner’s desires, you can certainly seek to fulfill their needs even if they are unlike your own. To take things even further, once your basic needs are met, each of you can begin working on missions greater than yourselves, be it through philanthropy or other forms of generosity. That’s usually when relationships really begin to soar to new heights.
A couple who grows together flows together. Even small amounts of growth as a couple can mean the difference between feeling stagnant and being fulfilled. Besides the tips mentioned above, it can be powerful to attend workshops together, share books, and challenge each other to grow. Relationships don’t have to take on new forms of suffering or boredom as a natural cycle. A little concerted effort towards making your relationships a high priority can quickly put you into the top one out of ten couples having fun. Play around and join the ranks.