The new year’s the perfect time to make some relationship changes. To get you started, here are 10 tips that’ll have you feeling like you’re back on honeymoon. By Thozama Nozuko
Getting to know your partner is something that should really be happening throughout the relationship. Because we, as individuals, evolve and grow, so do our interests. Psychologist Dr Athena Pedro advises that you take the time to ‘understand what it is about your partner’s interests that intrigues and attracts them. By showing that you care and want to be a part of their world, you send the message that you want to have a strong connection with them’. And it’s never a bad idea to broaden your own horizons.
2 Try something new together
Experiencing something new with your partner not only makes for some great anecdotes, it also enhances and strengthens the bond you share. So take a salsa-dancing class, go abseiling or hike up a mountain. Sharing the excitement and the anxiety of a new activity is how you’ll make memories together, and those memories strengthen your bond.
3 Share the power and the responsibilities
Whether you are a more traditional couple or a progressive, non-gender-conforming one, there is a lot to be said for equally sharing the tasks that keep your relationship running. Take turns paying for dinners, mowing the lawn or bathing the kids. Exchanging chores with your partner will go a long way towards a full appreciation of each other’s roles in your relationship.
4 Always be honest about who you are
This can be a difficult thing to do. However, pretending to be happy when you are not is the worst thing you can do for yourself and your relationship. ‘Always try to be upfront and honest about how you feel’ says Dr Pedro. And when you do broach an uncomfortable subject with your partner, Dr Pedro advises you do it in a spirit of love and care. Ultimately, you want to improve your relationship rather than come across as blaming your partner. Keep this in mind when conflicts arise.
As adults, we often tend to underestimate the value of play. Psychologists all agree, though, that even for adults, play can be a great source of joy that facilitates creativity, boosts our productivity and can help bring about a deep personal connection. So find some games you can both enjoy (not just those games) and have fun!
6 Name one thing you love about your partner every day
‘After being together for many years, it may be easy to list all of your partner’s faults and shortfalls’, Dr Pedro says. ‘However, it’s vitally important to remember that no one is perfect. When we love someone, we accept them whole, taking the good and the bad.’ So this year, challenge yourself to see the good in those you love, rather than the bad. And then reflect that to your partner. ‘Make a conscious effort to love your partner unconditionally,’ advises Dr Pedro.
7 Maintain closeness and intimacy in everything you do
There are many ways to enjoy intimacy in your relationship. Most importantly, spend time doing things together – meaningful or mundane. Dr Pedro recommends ‘making dinner, washing the car, watching movies or even reading together’. Being in close physical proximity while you’re in various frames of mind is a great way to enrich your union. And as the song goes, how can you be lovers if you can’t be friends?
8 Be present with each other
Living today, in the digital age, means that we are constantly inundated with information. It seems as though we are always competing with something beeping or vibrating or ringing or buzzing. So switch off. As much as you can, try to eliminate all distractions when spending time with your partner. This shows them that you truly attach value to their time and attention.
9 Spice things up in the bedroom
‘Be spontaneous and free to explore your sexual fantasies,’ says Dr Pedro. ‘It’s with your partner, after all, so it should be a safe, inviting space.’ You will be amazed at the big difference it makes to be a little more adventurous for a change.
10 Create a spiritual connection with your partner
Try connecting with your partner in a way that goes beyond the mind and the body. And this does not have to be specific to a denomination. Whether you express your spirituality through prayer, meditation or simply communing with nature, inviting your partner to share this part of yourself will probably considerably enrich your relationship. ‘This does not mean that couples who are spiritually connected will not encounter any unhappiness or disagreement, but these couples are likely to resolve their conflicts much more amicably,’ says Dr Pedro.