Fostering new growth in an old relationship

Mar 26, 2013 at 8:00 a.m. ET

A routine can be a beautiful thing, until you get distracted and fall into a rut that neither one of you planned for. Whether you're suddenly spending too little time together or stuck in an endless chain of draining commitments, it might be time to take a fresh look at your relationship.

Old Relationship

Survey the territory

You probably know how easy it is to each have your own schedule and forget to inform the other of your plans. Forgetting to consult each other can create chaos. Take a moment to write out everything you and he are doing, separately and together. Are you each getting enough solo time, or maybe that's exactly the thing you both are needing more of? Don't change anything yet. This is just taking inventory.

Select new branches for development

Keeping track of shifting priorities is a constant project. You may have begun the year with one set of goals, and these goals might have already evolved or even (joy of joys!) been met by now. Your life might need rearranging. Think of this as deciding what new branches of your tree you and he want to make grow. It might be very different from something as recent as a few months ago. Take time apart to find your individual priorities, and then regroup to discuss. Don't forget to reprioritize romantic activities for the two of you if those have been falling to the wayside.

Bring out the pruning shears

Once you can agree on your shared and individual priorities, take a hard look at the schedule you wrote back when you surveyed the territory. Snip off the stuff that's easiest to get rid of. You may have to help each other on this. My husband is much better at telling me what to drop from my schedule than I am! Slashing the easy-to-drop stuff will make the rest more bearable. A healthy tree flourishes when it can focus its energy on a few strong branches, rather than funneling it into tons of little shoots that suck its life.

The truth is, doing a few things well in life is truly more fulfilling than trying to do everything, or wasting time doing things that you and he don't really love anymore. Having the right priorities in place will leave you more freedom to love and notice each other. This close look at your relationship might give it just the boost of spring growth that it needs.

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