Make time for your primary relationship
Yes, the kids are important. Yes, you need to work to pay the bills. Yes, there’s simply no time to even think straight, let alone make time for your significant other. They understand though, right?
You guys get that life is just too crazy at the moment, etc, etc.
Well, then you won’t be surprised when you suddenly wake up one day next to a stranger and wonder where the spark went.
Emotional distance and intimacy both pitch their flags on the same landmark: your relationship’s well-being; and you get there the same way – one step at time.
Get your priorities straight and make those steps the right steps.
Make the decision to consciously make time for the person who has co-opted into your life.
If that means you have to sync your calendars and set date nights/mornings/afternoons, do it.
Switch off the devices at the dinner table…
And the coffee table and the bedside table. That goes for TV as well.
Call me old fashioned, but I think human relationships are best built through talking to each other and paying attention to what you both say … or do, in the case of the bedroom.
And this doesn't just mean peeps in a relationship. If you’re going on a first date – leave your phone off. I’ve seen a number of first dates crash and burn due to phone addiction.
Nothing says ‘I am not interested’ or ‘your opinion is invalid’ like taking a 10-minute social call while your new potential beau is left hanging. Unless that’s the vibe you’re going for, in which case you should learn some manners.
Use your words wisely
Promise to do two things: One, not say shitty, rude, sweary things to or about your partner; and two, tell them you love them or compliment them once a day.
What you say counts, and far too many of us are comfortable rattling off all levels of verbal abuse (it can be as subtle as ‘you’re going to eat that?’) or hiding behind passive aggressive non-communication (sighs, silent treatment, being withholding) to ‘get our point across’.
Take the opportunity the New Year presents to practice using your words to say what you mean and build up, rather than break down. Your relationship is a team effort, not a platform for mutual bullying and breaking down.
If that’s the relationship culture you two have going for you, maybe it’s time to channel your issues in other ways, like therapy.
Practice honesty and vulnerability
This follows on from using your words wisely and goes for singles and those who are hooked up.
If you want to light a fire under your love life, practice being honest with yourself and your partner about what you want, what works for you and what you feel. Now do that without judgement and fear, and you’re on your way to a whole new world.
And if you can’t be honest and vulnerable with your partner, what the hell are you in the relationship for? If you’re with a partner who doesn't respect you, treat you unkindly and doesn't care about your well-being – or you keep being attracted to people who are like this – you have a lot more personal soul-searching to do.
The most important relationship you can have is the relationship you have with yourself. In the words of author Stephen Chbosky, you get the love you think you deserve.
Accept responsibility for your sexual satisfaction
I'm always amused at how many people believe their sexual satisfaction is in the control of their chosen sex partner.
Like, they’ll settle with someone and pledge monogamy even though the sex isn't really satisfying. They won’t make any effort to address an evolving sexual relationship and then feel empty, misunderstood and trapped when the burden of trying to be 'OK' with the status quo becomes too much.
And then they’ll blame their partner for being boring or not interested or interesting enough.
Sexual connection isn't static, your sexual tastes and eroticisms are not set in stone and your desire will ebb and flow.
Make a decision to own this, to take responsibility for your sexual self and to use your communication skills, imagination and resources to figure out what you want sexually and to have your needs met.
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