If there's one thing you can do to improve your relationship tenfold, it's to really listen. Often, even when we say we're listening, we're really just going through the motions -- nodding at all the right places, mumbling half-hearted responses, etc. To remedy this, set aside a time today to really listen. Make (and hold) eye contact, put your phone away (hide it if you have to), ask questions and participate in the conversation. Don't just nod and smile; focus on what your partner is saying. Being present and involved in what is being said will draw the two of you closer. The more you listen to each other, the more you'll open up to each other – a cornerstone of any good relationship.
No, we don't mean to the Italian bistro you always go to for every anniversary or birthday. Instead, pick a night, hire a babysitter if you need one and plan a night out together. Maybe start at the little jazz bar you both used to love, moving on to a restaurant you've always wanted to try and then a walk through your favorite park. The point is to make the evening count by doing things you either used to love but haven't had time to do, or choosing new things that you both want to try. By putting effort into a date night, you'll realize how much fun you can have together when you're not stuck in a routine.
Like a date night, this can help draw you closer and remind you of all the reasons you got together in the first place. Maybe you've both always wanted to get into mountain biking, learn to sail or check out a kickboxing class at your local gym. But chances are there's something you've both talked about trying in the early stages of your relationship. Revisit those early conversations about your shared desires and make a decision on what you can do together that neither of you have done. Shared adventures are sexy and allow you to see your partner in a completely new light.
This is an opportunity for both of you to air anything that has been bothering you about the relationship. The longer you keep things bottled up, the harder it gets to talk about them. Telling a person something he may not want to hear is hard, just as taking criticism from your partner is, but if there are issues that need to be resolved, at least get them on the table so you can begin to work on them. Does he always cut you off when you're talking? Tell him. Does he hate it when you tease him in front of your friends? Maybe that's something you can work on. Air your grievances and work to move past them.
Have you always ignored his love of golf? Scoffed at his favorite sports team? Refused to go camping with him? Now is your chance to find some common ground when it comes to hobbies and passions. And this works both ways: He should also try something you love. Discuss some options and schedule a time (actually mark it on the calendar) to get involved in each other's loves. Go to a game and support his team, take a golf lesson or agree to a short camping trip just to see what it's like. Who knows? Maybe you'll enjoy yourself.
This is a day to do something for each other. What do you want? It could be something as simple as having him cook you dinner or accompanying him to see his parents (when you would really rather go shopping with your BFF). The point is to make a request of each other and make sure that request is granted. They need to be fairly equal for this to work (i.e., you can't ask him to pay for a spa day for you when he asked for a foot rub). Just feel good knowing that you're doing something your partner wants.
After six days of really working on your relationship, it's time to put your new skills to the test by going away together. Book a cabin, take a weekend road trip or simply stay at a nice bed and breakfast for the night. No matter where you end up, this is a chance for you to be alone together, listen to each other and enjoy each other's company. Sometimes, you need neutral territory, away from everyday distractions, to truly rekindle your romance.
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