Okay, so sometimes there are very good reasons why you should break up with somebody: if someone is cheating on you or being abusive, that’s just a no brainer – show him where the door is and don’t look back! But… most people break up for more ‘softer’ reasons. In fact, when people tell me about their break ups, they often find it difficult to put the finger on exactly what has led to the decision to separate.
I agree with Tony Robbins when he says, ‘do what you did in the beginning of the relationship and you’ll never have to break up’. Remember all those things you use to do together and for each other and how glad you were to do them? As time passes by, it’s not so much that we no longer want to do these things, we just find excuses or reasons why it can wait. ‘I and my partner are an established couple, we’re going to be together, I am not going to get those flowers… it’s not like it’s her birthday or anything’ or ‘I am really busy at work, I don’t have time to organise a date night’.
A relationship spark like any real fire needs maintenance, you got to keep adding fuel to it or it inevitably goes out. This fuel is the little things you do that shows your partner that you love them and appreciate them. No, just saying that you love them once in a blue moon is not going to cut it. So here are 5 things you should incorporate into your relationship to make sure the spark burns bright for many years to come.
- Touch your partner often in a nonsexual way. Simple right? There was a time in the beginning of the relationship where you took any opportunity to touch him/her, now it’s great it you hug once a day. Dr Jeremy Nicholson points out that “Routine touching will help build passion in your relationship, whether it is a first date or a long marriage. It will also keep your partner more satisfied and agreeable. Cooperation will improve. Sex will get better. Not to mention a little pat on the hand or a small hug and kiss will make your partner more agreeable to your requests.” Touch is the glue of intimacy and it’s so easily done and all too easily forgotten. Touch their arm rather than call their name to get their attention, rest your hand on their thigh in a car, pull their hair back from their face… every little touch counts.
- The gift of giving. Not talking about buying presents for your partner, though absolutely do so from time to time. Doing something for them without expecting anything in return does so much more for your relationship. Do something you don’t have to do: wash the dishes, run one of their errands without being asked to, volunteer to take something off their hands e.g. walk their dog, pick up the dry cleaning. You’ll be surprised how good it feels to do something nice for someone you love and you’ll be setting a great example for your partner and children to follow.
- Big up the good and play down the bad. When you met your partner – weren’t they simply the best person ever? All the good things they did were simply amazing and the things that seem annoying about them now were ‘cute’ back in the day. When we meet somebody new, we focus and expand on their positive attributes and turn a blind eye to the negatives. As we begin to take our relationship for granted, suddenly it’s the negatives that rule our thoughts. Notice more of their positive deeds, behaviour and efforts and make sure they know how appreciative you are of them. IGNORE the negatives – you want them thinking about how good it was to get appreciation from you and thinking how they can get more, rather than be focused on defending themselves from your criticism and wallowing in guilt.
- Get out and experience new things together. Have you noticed how throughout the years the conversation shifts to grocery shopping and what’s for dinner. You sit in your kitchen and think back to all those awesome dates you went on in the beginning…. Why do we think that at a certain point in the relationship planning and going on dates is no longer important or even necessary? What a huge mistake! A change of environment, trying out new foods or new activities allows you to see your partner in a brand new light. It adds colour to your relationship beyond groceries and house chores. Doing things together with this person is what made you want to be with them in the first place – for crying out loud, do not stop.
- Give your relationship some air. I saved this to last because if you are doing points 1 to 4 then this should make sense and make it easy for you to let your partner have some time of their own. I see many couples that due to trust or attachment issues limit the ‘alone activities’ of the other. Let your partner pursue their own hobbies, meet their friends without you tagging along and have the house to themselves from time to time. It will give you guys something to talk about later and make both of you feel that you can be both individuals and a couple.
To be completely honest with you, all of the above requires effort. If it didn’t, you would be doing all of the above as is. But this is good effort, the kind that will make you feel better as you do each thing. If you think about what’s at stake, it’s clear as day that every drop of effort is 1,000,000% worth it.