If you've ever wondered what it takes to maintain a long-term, committed relationship, I'm here to tell you there isn't any magical formula for making it work. There are some simple strategies that give you a pretty good shot at living happily ever after, though. This week I wanted to share a few tips from my own experience being with the same boy for several years – blissfully and without too many serious bumps in the road. Three must-dos in particular keep us connected and I'm pretty sure they would benefit most couples.
One of the things we do every day that really helps us stay connected despite both having busy lives is taking at least 20 minutes (more if we can) to just catch up on each other's days. Since it's summer, we've been doing this in the backyard and once we're both home, before we start thinking about what to have for dinner or dealing with any household annoyances (like why the drains in the bathroom are clogged, again), we sit outside and chat. He tells me about his day – the good, the bad and the ugly – and I do the same. Most of the time it's just a quick update but sometimes one of us has had a particularly stressful day and this is a great way to ease the tension of the day and totally reconnect.
I've mentioned in past columns our shared love of camping and travel. I've found that it's really important for a couple to have at least a few hobbies or activities they both love to do. Whether you're both passionate about working out, hiking, golf or scuba diving, having something you can share and continually bond over is a great way to stay close and excited about your relationship. If you don't currently have any common loves, find some! Sit down and discuss some of the things you each can't live without and then agree to try at least one of the other person's favorite things. If you're still finding it hard to hit on a mutual pastime, come up with something totally new. Try a few things that are new to both of you (it could be anything from gardening to baseball) and see which one you both take to – voila – your new shared activity.
Even though spending quality time together is essential, I find it equally important to spend some time apart. Being attached at the hip and doing everything together isn't healthy for your relationship and one (or both of you) will eventually end up feeling stifled. My guy goes fall and winter camping without me and I'm OK with that (seriously, WHY would anyone want to sleep in the cold?) because his guys-only getaways allow me to have the house to myself. I also plan lots of girls' nights out with my BFFs while he does his own thing. The time we're not together allows us time to miss each other, and it gives us new things to talk about once we're back home together and hanging out in the backyard.
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