With the beginning of a new year well underway and the somewhat cliché mantra of “New year, new you!” still ringing in the air, many of us are starting to look around and wonder what has really changed. The problem with this phrase is that it often implies that there must be a complete and total change whether in our habits, work or even in our relationships. But the truth is: you may not need a complete relationship renovation. Instead, perhaps a simple “refreshing” in some areas that have grown stagnant or mundane might be the appropriate course to take. Just like the warmth and satisfaction that can come from simply rearranging or reorganizing a space, your relationship can be revitalized as well.
Here are five ways to breathe some new life into your established routines.
Strive to Surprise. There is a certain satisfaction that comes from knowing one another’s habits, tendencies, and preferences. However, this capacity for anticipating what to expect from one another can also promote boredom, complacency, and indifference. Going out of your way to gift little surprises to one another can be a way to spark those feelings you shared back when you were first discovering each other. It could be preparing their favorite dish, treating them to their favorite hot or cold beverage/snack, cleaning their car and filling up the gas tank, or arrange a date if you don’t typically plan them. Whatever you choose, choose to make it a surprise.
Reassess Your Roles. While knowing “who does what” can greatly simplify and streamline the management of household chores and responsibilities in a way that sets up a relationship for success, it can also create ruts. As change enters our lives we may grow to dread a task or become overwhelmed by it. Talk to one another about these shifts and consider switching things around. If possible, team up on tasks and responsibilities that you previously did alone. You may surprise yourselves one day by discovering that you feel eager and excited about a chore because you know it is a chance to spend time together.
Freshen Up Your Look. Of course, no one is saying that the way someone looks is the most important feature about them. However, there is value to be acknowledged in continuing to make an effort, no matter how long you have been in a relationship. Perhaps you could trim your beard or experiment with a new hairstyle. Or maybe showcase an outfit that feels fun and playful, paint your nails, or try out a new accessory. You may feel that you have already “sealed the deal”, but that certainly doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t continue to garner your partner’s interest.
Spend Time Apart. Though this may seem counterproductive, it can, at certain points and for certain lengths of time, play a vital part in enriching your time together. By reserving some time for both of you to “do your own thing”, you can eagerly return to one another feeling recharged mentally, emotionally, relationally, and ready to reconnect.
Swap Out the Usual. Sometimes exchanging a common experience for an uncommon one can really do the trick when it comes to re-energizing your relationship routines. Collaborate to pick something you routinely do together and trade it out for something new. If you tend to rely heavily on watching tv shows, try exchanging that screen time for some kind of face-to-face engagement (board/card game, reading together, go for a walk/exercise). This exchange doesn’t need to be a total or permanent removal of watching tv together, but changing things up from time to time can create some healthy variety and novelty.
Many times the act of rearranging furniture or replacing just a few items, as opposed to a total overhaul, can give a space a new lease on life. In a parallel sense, your relationship may simply require some minor adjustments to bring life flowing back into your various shared experiences.