It's easy to become complacent in a relationship. You settle into comfortable routines and shows of affection become automated. A quick declaration of 'love you, bye!' as you charge out the door toast in hand, or an absent minded 'so, how was your day?' while you scroll through Facebook on your phone. While it's perfectly normal for long-term relationships to be like this at times, try to make a regular habit of snapping out of what I like to call the 'steady-relationship-daze'.
The next time you're with your SO, make a conscious effort to bring awareness to the present moment and to see that person through a fresh pair of eyes. Observe the smile that had you weak at the knees the first time you met, the strangely alluring shape of their hands and the reassuring tone of their voice. Take a moment to really be with that person.
Remember, there's no law saying you have to reinforce relationship cliches, hit the refresh button and make your own rules! This attitude can be applied to all areas of life; it's called being sassy and we've all got a side in us. Life's too short to be falling into tired-out old narratives for lack of imagination and fear of doing things differently. Bring back the sparkle with these small actions to let that special someone know how you feel about them.
1. Don't forget the power of touch. Something as simple as a stroke of the cheek or resting your hand on a loved one's shoulder suddenly creates a deeper more meaningful connection between you. Next time you're together, be aware of your body language; are you creating a space of warmth and affection between you, or are you physically closed off.
2. Add an element of surprise. While routines are a fundamental part of life and provide a sense of security that we all need, they can also become so ingrained that you become almost robotic. It's not difficult to have an occasional shake-up and suggest eating alfresco one evening, or get up a bit earlier to prepare a surprise breakfast in bed. Be creative and have some fun. But, remember that while small surprises can be lovely, be careful not to cause annoyance by landing too much on someone completely out the blue.
3. Have a laugh. When you share your life with someone it's easy to get caught up in the mundanity of daily life. Sometimes it's worth remembering, that it really doesn't have to be so serious. We Westerners do tend to treat life as a constant obstacle to be overcome. Make a concerted effort each day to step out of the 'whose turn is it to do the shopping' and 'why haven't they done that already' mind-set and turn your attention to something fun that you and your partner can both enjoy. This could be as simple as watching an episode of Friends on Netflix, or cooking a meal that reminds you of a holiday you had together. Other days when you have more time, why not set off to explore a national park, or try something new, like indoor climbing or a cooking class. Time is no excuse, you can always make time for a little fun.
4. Give each other space. It's important to spend quality time with your partner, not all of the time with them. If you think about it, when you live with someone it can be pretty full-on. Even with full-time jobs, you spend a big proportion of your lives in close proximity. It would be too much for most best friends even, so bare that in mind when you're pulling a sullen face as he heads out to watch the match or put the world to rights with his mates.
5. Be supportive. Resentment in relationships builds up all too easily and this can blinker you when it comes to seeing your partner's vulnerability and suffering. Sometimes relationships can turn into a vicious cycle of getting one-up on the other and feeling constantly aggrieved about, let me think... Everything. It's important to remind yourself that you're with this person because you love them and they, like everybody, have moments of insecurity and feeling down, which is when you need to forget about the washing-up that was left and put out a hand to help your partner up.