If you’re anything like most couples in a long-term relationship (especially with kids), your relationship can sometimes feel a bit … flat. Not a source of pain, but not a ray of sunshine, either.
Last week I wrote a blog about how to identify if your relationship needs urgent care 10 Signs That Your Relationship Needs Urgent Care. Given the flood of responses I received, this is clearly a pressing topic for many of you!
So today, I’m going to give you a starting point for getting your relationship on the mend. This will not be a magic cure-all, but will start opening up your heart and mind to a place where you can do the real work that your relationship needs.
To get your relationship on the path toward recovery, have a great date night, regularly. I know that this may seem obvious at first. But over the years, I’ve come to realize that many people in a stalled relationship know how to plan a date night, but not agreat date night. Sure, they can get the baby-sitter, buy movie tickets, but they don’t know how to make the evening fun.
It’s easy to have a great date when you first meet someone and it’s thrilling and fresh and there’s so much to explore. It’s quite another when you’ve been washing this person’s underwear for the past 15 years.
Before your date
1. Remind yourself why you love the other person.
A date is a chance to celebrate just how great your partner is… something that you probably overlook in your daily life. Before the date itself, spend two to five minutes thinking about everything you’re grateful for in your partner. Even if you never say it aloud, your partner will be able to feel it!
2. Tell people about your date.
Remember when you used to eagerly tell your friends about the hot date you had coming up that weekend? Sharing goes a long way toward getting you excited and treating the date as special. Do the same with your dates with your partner.
3. Dress up.
One of the best ways to honor an event is to get gussied up for it. It designates the event as special and important, which is EXACTLY how you should be treating your date.
During your date
4. Flirt and play.
Date night is not the time to discuss your upcoming tax return or your kid’s grades. It’s a time to joke, tease, and have fun with each other. To talk about things you have been pondering (“doesn’t Vladimir Putin remind you of your uncle Ned?”) that may not make the “most urgent” list at home.
5. Designate taboo topics.
Decide ahead of time which topics you won’t discuss. This is not to say that they aren’t valid or important, but if they don’t bring enjoyment to you and your partner, save them for another time. Date night is a sacred space for fun and play.
6. Learn one new thing about your partner.
Yes, this is possible, even after years of being together. Consider that you don’t know everything about your partner, and that there is a nugget just waiting to be discovered on each date night. It doesn’t have to be something big, like discovering that your partner has a soft spot for Vladimir Putin. Being curious about your partner lets them surprise and delight you.
7. Don’t criticize.
Consider that date night is a time for each of you to be yourselves, and celebrate two unique birds having found each other. Criticism destroys that atmosphere of celebration and acceptance, so should be checked at the door. Embrace your partner for all that they are, even if you’re different. That doesn’t make you “the right one.”
After the date
8. Make every night a date night.
Even if you are in the middle of your weekly routine, consider that you can take these elements of a great date night and use them all the time. Any issue gets easier to tackle if you’re playful. Remembering why you love the person will help them feel more appreciated. The seven tips above will help you have a great life together, not just a great date.
When is your next date night planned? Which of these tips are you going to seize? Write me a note, and let’s create a great date night for you.
By: Dr. Samantha Sutton