You’re in love and you want to keep in that way. Here are eight ways to prioritize your relationship:
#1. Find out what “fine” really means. “How are you?” should be a meaningful question in your relationship. Check in with each other routinely, and really seek to know how you partner is doing. Intentionally decide to live life together, aware of each other on many levels. Refuse to become roommates, living politely parallel lives. Ensure that real listening, compassion, and a true desire to know how your partner is feeling underlies your interaction.
#2. Schedule time. Disconnect is sneaky. It will tell you that you don’t have time for each other, that your partner will understand how busy you are, or that you’ll get together “later.” Don’t believe it. Simply gift each other with time. Date nights, day trips, weekend travel. Do whatever creates shared anticipation, experiences, and memories. Make time for fun.
#3. Throw a party for your partner every day. Not really, but your partner should feel undeniably appreciated every day. Appreciation helps partners keep negativity at bay, and increases positive feelings between you. Make sincere praise and verbal affirmation routine. Consider it a privilege to send each other out into a tough world feeling seen, valued, and supported.
# 4. Obtain your love degree. What do you know makes your partner feel most loved? Gifts? Words? Touch? Poetry reading in Oakland Joaquin Miller Park? Whatever it is, learn that love lesson well. In fact, get an advanced degree. It can be dangerous to make assumptions about how your love feels. Ask questions, study his or her responses to your efforts; be curious. Study your partner, and learn to love in a way that is specific, attentive, and adaptable.
#5. Refuse to let resentments build. This is crucial. Communication is lauded as the cornerstone of open, healthy relationships because it works. Keep the lines open. Break any unproductive habit that allows resentment to live unaddressed between you. As an act of love and commitment, make time for self-examination, and make the changes you need to in yourself. No silent treatment, no minimizing, no avoidance. Trust and respect each other that much.
#6. Become a super, problem-solving duo. Relationships face problems and endure challenges all the time. It’s normal. Learning to tackle the tough stuff together makes it clear that you’re in the relationship game to win, and willing to do what it takes.
#7. Work through problems in an optimal situation, as often as possible. Teamwork works best if you’re not tired, inordinately angry, hungry, or inebriated. Seek to understand, and focus attention on, one or two issues. Even if you take opposing views, take care of each other. Protect your union by staying present and respectful. Your partner will appreciate it and likely do the same for you.
#8. Make intimacy a way of life. Sex and affection are good. (You bet they are* wink, wink.) So, keep intimacy fresh and vibrant. How? Be adventurous, fun, playful in the bedroom and out. Be so close that you seek each other out daily, brush up against each other often, and look forward to ending the day together, at the same time, focused on each other– not the TV, Internet, or your email. Talk to each other all day. Share your work lives, discuss your family, talk through the bills. Then go further, and risk sharing deeper thoughts of yourself.
Watch your relationship grow.