Relationships take work. If anyone tells you differently, I call bullsh*t.
For many of us, life gets in the way of our relationships after a while. When that initial spark dies down, when the honeymoon period has waned, everyday stress and responsibilities can come between you and the one you love. If kids are on the scene, they tend to soak up every ounce of energy, conversation, and passion on a daily basis, relegating the connection with your partner to the back of the junk drawer.
I have, with the help of numerous friends, compiled a list of 101 ways to re-connect with your partner. Most aren’t grand gestures but are instead those little things that give you pause, to remember why you fell in love in the first place or how far you have come together. Pick a few to do today, tomorrow and the rest of the year. Even the smallest things, like a warm smile or a squeeze, can go a long way! (And P.S…by no means is my marriage perfect. Although I don’t show the times via social media that we disagree or have difficulties- because I respect our relationship’s privacy- it doesn’t mean that these things don’t occur!)
1. Surprise them with coffee/tea/ favorite morning beverage in bed. Then repeat every morning if you can.
2. Create a ritual. A kiss before you leave the house, cheers before beginning a meal.
3. Take turns planning surprise dates each month- one person plans the entire night, from babysitting to food to outfits.
4. Plan a staycation nearby if you can’t take a full-on vacation. Looking for someone to take the kids? Offer to trade with friends one weekend, and return the favor the next.
5. Go somewhere designed for kids, without the kids such as a theme park.
6. Re-create your first date, from what you wore to the cocktails you drank to the music you listened to. Bonus points for using the same method of transportation.
7. Buy them a book you think they would enjoy and put sticky notes with kind messages throughout the pages.
8. If they collect something, try to find an item to add to their collection.
9. Just hold hands. Even a small physical connection can do wonders.
10. Warm their car up in the mornings.
11. Take their car and get it detailed and topped off.
12. Help them bring in the groceries and unpack.
13. Think about the things that you appreciate instead of the things that disappoint you about them.
14. Make a list of the characteristics, mannerisms and actions that made you fall in love with them in the first place.
15. Make a date for something challenging- something like an Escape Room can help you work together.
16. If you need a little company to ease into spending time together, plan a couple’s weekend with supportive and easy-going friends.
17. Plan a game night- cards, ping pong, whatever gets that competitive spirit going.
18. Cook a meal together- you can also take cooking classes at Sur la Table as a couple.
19. Drop everything when you talk to them. No phones, no laptops, make eye contact.
20. Find one thing each day to compliment them on.
21. If they lost something (their favorite college logo hat) try to find a replacement. The simple act of realizing how much little items take on sentimental value can be incredibly comforting.
22. Forgive. You might not be able to forget, but try your best to forgive.
23. Make it a point to check in as a couple regularly- be it weekly or monthly, ask the other person how they are feeling in the relationship.
24. Attempt to get to know their friends or their family more. Take an interest in their other relationships.
25. Talk about your dreams, your hopes, your wishes.
26. Be on the same team. Cheer for each other’s victories. Make it a priority to attend their big events.
27. Have a “dream date” jar- each person fills it with whatever leftover change/bills they have, and when you reach a specific amount go on a date you both love.
28. Send random texts with kind, loving, appreciative messages.
29. Get a movie you think the other person would love, even if it isn’t your style.
30. Ask their advice or opinion on something. It can be incredibly flattering and inspire trust when you ask another person for their input.
31. Video Chat. Instead of simply calling them, use Skype, FaceTime or Google Hangout to talk.
32. Help the kids make something for them- whether it is simply a drawing or a hand-painted flower pot, do it together.
33. Make an appointment for them- massage, mani/pedi, batting cages, whatever will relax them.
34. Attend a sporting event together and make bets on who will win.
35. One word: Sybaris.
36. Do breakfast dates- during the week, if you both work, schedule a breakfast date. On the weekends hire a sitter or have a family member watch the kids.
37. Exercise together. Encourage each other, celebrate victories, commiserate over difficulties.
38. If you have kids, hire a regular weekly sitter if you have the funds. Every Friday or Saturday night is lovely, but sometimes sitters are only available during the weeknights or weekend mornings. Just knowing you have this time alone regularly to reconnect is helpful.
39. Find a show to watch together and talk about it. Even an old series like 24 keeps you guessing!
40. Talk about inside jokes or shared experiences.
41. Sleep sans pajamas 😉
42. When your partner is speaking, listen and ask questions. You can even restate what they said to ensure that they feel heard, and ensure that you understand what they mean.
43. Go to a comedy show or watch stand up on TV. Laughter can be the best medicine.
44. Take ownership of your emotions. No one can MAKE you feel a certain way, you control your emotions.
45. Do one thing that the other loves but you normally wouldn’t do. Tickets to a country music concert or fashion show, attending a motocross rally, figure out what they love and enjoy it with them.
46. Host a party together. Enjoy the planning stage, the event itself, and a good post-mortem.
47. When planning your calendar, add time with your partner first and other events after.
48. Create a sign or signal to let your partner know that you love him/her and you are thinking about them. It can be as simple as pointing to your eye, heart, and then them for “I love you.” This can be done across the room, when sitting next to each other, anywhere and it is your special code.
49. Find a project to do together, whether it is painting a room or cleaning out the storage closet.
50. Make out without the expectation of more.
51. Volunteer together. The natural high you get from helping others can strengthen your relationship.
52. Cuddle in bed, either before going to sleep or first thing in the morning.
53. Create a playlist that your partner will love.
54. Hop on a bicycle together, whether it be a leisurely ride around town or mountain biking down an embankment.
55. Crank up your favorite dance music and break loose. It can be current music, your favorite song from when you were dating, or trendy kid stuff. Doesn’t matter, just dance together.
56. Create memory books of your favorite times together and share them.
57. Compete on a sports team together.
58. Plan & plant landscaping or a garden together.
59. Go to a marriage counselor together.
60. Hang around other couples with a strong relationship, and spend less time with those that argue constantly or speak ill of each other.
61. Have goal-setting sessions together. Map out where you want to be financially, emotionally, family-wise, etc…
62. Learn a new skill together- take a class, something such as improv can bring out different sides of you.
63. Express gratitude to your partner- for all aspects of your life together.
64. Create a book club. Just for the two of you. If a book is too daunting, create an “article” club with magazines or newspapers.
65. Educate yourself on how and when your partner best communicates, and follow those guidelines.
66. Watch a movie with fairly gratuitous sex scenes to set the mood.
67. Call in sick to work. Both of you. Spend the day without responsibilities.
68. Be silly. Dress up in costumes for Halloween, have silly traditions for St. Patrick’s Day, try to let your guard down.
69. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Does it really matter? Is anyone going to die? Is anyone going to jail?
70. Create a signal to let your partner know that a topic is truly important to you and they need to listen. The signal could be as simple as grabbing their arm, looking into their eyes, and telling them, “This is important.”
71. Put their favorite snack in their car with a note.
72. Feed the kids dinner one night, and eat a romantic, candle-lit dinner with your partner after they go to bed.
73. Play the “Would You Rather…” game.
74. Take a bath together.
75. Be intimate in a different room of your home than usual.
76. Join a gym together with childcare. Drop the kids off and work out together, or hang out in the hot tub/smoothie bar for a mini date.
77. Find a trivia night- create a team name and try your hardest to win together. Bonus points for team t-shirts.
78. Have a black tie night- find an event where you can pull off a formal look, and make sure to get photos. The fun can be in the preparation- get ready in separate areas of the house if possible so you can be surprised when you see each other.
79. Try to go to bed at the same time at least a few nights each week. Spend a few minutes in bed cuddling, chatting, or being intimate before you go to sleep.
80. Ask their parents what their favorite dish was when they were younger and (attempt to) re-create it.
81. Be positive. Listen to how you speak to each other- do you complain constantly? Try to focus on the positives.
82. Verbally agree to start over. If you are on a date and things aren’t going well, try to address the issue and ask if you can have a re-do.
83. Make up stories about other people. For example, if you are having drinks together at a bar, look around and guess why others are at the bar together. Maybe they are on a first date and were set up by their parents? Maybe one is a plumber and fixed an issue for his date and they hit it off?
84. Watch your body language. When talking, are you closed- do you have your arms crossed, legs crossed, looking away? Are you open- leaning towards your partner, nodding and smiling?
85. Try to realize that you don’t always have to be right. Sometimes being kind is more important than being right.
86. Celebrate the small things together- pop a bottle of bubbly when you communicate well, have a celebratory dinner when you agree to disagree.
87. If you have issues with finding time to spend together, consider a shared calendar. Just seeing a few weeks or a month’s worth of activities all at once can help find time to reconnect.
88. Make a chore chart and discuss which you don’t mind doing vs. ones that you would rather not do. Figure out what is important to each person (Lack of clutter? A clean kitchen counter?) and resolve to meet each other’s needs.
89. Figure out how to be happy with yourself first. If you aren’t happy with yourself, it is highly unlikely that you will be happy with your partner.
90. Ask the “36 Questions.” There is a study that suggests intimacy between strangers can be fast-tracked if they ask a series of personal questions, so why wouldn’t it work for couples?
91. Talk about each other’s childhood- What is their first memory? What food did they love? Did they have a favorite stuffed animal?
92. Offer to do things that they regularly do. Does your partner always drive? Offer to get behind the wheel for the next date night. Do they mow the lawn? Get up early and get it done!
93. Take turns giving massages, and add in some extras- a massage oil candle, some whipped cream, spice it up!
94. Bedroom toys. Start with something simple like a blindfold and work up to more.
95. Watch a scary movie together. If you usually sit in different chairs, try to snuggle up on the couch together.
96. Ask your partner to teach you something. Do they make amazing scrambled eggs? Parallel park like a pro?
97. Text your partner to reiterate a conversation you had. Let them know that you heard them, ask what you can do to help, tell them you support them.
98. Send your partner a thank you card in the mail. Make it personal, mushy, sexy, whatever fits your situation.
99. Surprise them with their favorite cocktail/beverage and newspaper/book the minute they walk in the door if you are home first and give them some alone time to relax.
100. Schedule a regular class for them that they will love and inform them you will handle everything while they are gone.
101. Give them an extra long hug.
Cheers to reconnecting with your partner, not just on Valentine’s Day but EVERY day! Thank you to all of my friend who contributed to this post 🙂