In the early stages of relationships people experience a lot of personal growth through their relationship. This happens a variety of ways:
- You meet new people through your partner.
- Your partner appreciates positive qualities about you that you may not have fully realized were your strengths.
- You pick up new interests from your partner.
- You learn smart ways of doing things from your partner.
When a relationship is more established, this rapid growth slows down. You may begin take for granted what’s great about your partner and over-focus on what irritates you.
Here are some simple, practical ways to inject some positive sentiment into your relationship if it has become stale.
1. Do a project together.
Working together on a project that’s moderately challenging can help you feel closer. Pick a project where you’re both beginners, such as a DIY project around your home.
2. Do something kind for your partner (that you don’t usually do).
We all know how nice it is to feel cared about. Think about what extremely simple behaviors would make your partner feel loved. Aim for something that will surprise them.
- If you partner loves a dish that you rarely cook, make it.
- Fill their car with gas so they don’t have to do it.
- If your partner likes taking a bath in the evenings, run it for them.
- Make them a cup of tea if they’re a tea drinker.
- Buy their favorite type of beer and put it in the fridge.
- Pick up their prescription for them, or run another errand that’s usually on their to do list.
If you’re currently experiencing elevated tension and negativity in your relationship it might be wise to ask your partner in advance if they’d like you to do whatever you have planned. They’ll still be surprised you asked.
Note that this tip doesn’t apply if you’re currently a doormat in the relationship who does everything anyway!
3. Make the cognitive shift of valuing your partner’s good but boring qualities.
What makes for a good relationship tends to be over-romanticized. There are lots of benefits to being in a stable relationship that we can start to take for granted. For example, if I’m ever sick with vomiting my spouse will bring me a bucket and then rinse it out. She also hand washes some of my clothing that I don’t like to go in the machine.
Think about what’s trustworthy and reliable about your partner. For example, they’re a safe driver and are careful when they buckle your children into their car seats. Or, they show up places when they say they’re going to etc etc.
4. Think about what you have in common that you take for granted.
What are you and your partner on the same page about but where you take that for granted?
- You both like to have up-to-date electronics so you don’t begrudge each other spending money on new phones and computers.
- You both like to be relatively minimalist and not have a house full of knick knacks.
- You both like the same kinds of vacation destinations.
- You both think it’s important to have regular contact with family.
- You both value recycling and wouldn’t put recyclable items in the trash.
Ask yourself – If you were in a relationship with a different person, what might be areas of tension that aren’t conflict areas with your current partner?
The tips in this article are important because overall positive sentiment is what helps people withstand relationship ups and downs. Feeling globally positive in a general sense helps motivate us to navigate areas of tension with a spirit of trust, kindness and cooperation. Sometimes very simple shifts in your thinking and behavior can change the trajectory of your relationship.