Beat A Relationship Rut With These Key Tips

by Isadora Baum, CHC

There are so many wonderful things that we love about our partners: their generosity, the way their hair smells post-shower, the way their dimples shine when they smile, etc. Regardless of all of the great things, though, relationships can become boring after a while of dating, as you've become so familiar with your partner and may have lost the spontaneity and spark that were prevalent in earlier months.

As a certified health coach, I work with people on strengthening their relationships with friends, family and significant others, and I often find issues to arise with partners come the six-month-mark and on. While all the amazing, lovable qualities of the partners still exist, little things can accumulate and become irritating, and overall boredom with the relationship can leave people wanting more. The way they chew their food might appear louder and louder over time, or the fact that a sports game is on whenever you come home might become frustrating, no matter how much you, yourself, love a good game and have enjoyed countless viewings with your partner.

Since we often don't want to throw away our relationships, but still feel unsatisfied, it's best to try and re-ignite that spark from the beginning. It's also important to note that phases can appear throughout a relationship, resulting in multiple ruts over time. By using these 13 tips, you can beat that slump and enjoy the pleasures of a happy, loving and healthy relationship.

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1. Have A New Experience

Shake things up with a brand new activity over the weekend. Go hiking, book a reservation at a restaurant you have been dying to go to, rent out jet skis, or explore a farmers market. "Life is about having fun and trying new things," says healthy life designer Michelle Dooley over email with Bustle. Dooley recommends signing up for a 5K or taking a swing dancing class, as the activity will also increase mood-boosting endorphins.

2. Be Open To Doing What Your Partner Loves

Showing that you care about his or her interests in important in spending valuable time together and displaying a solid effort. If he or she loves cooking, sign up for a couple's cooking class. You may also meet other couples who are affectionate, and let their happiness rub off. "Go outside your comfort zone," Dooley says. Relationships include sacrifices. You might also surprise yourself and really enjoy the activities!

3. Acknowledge The Rut

Communicating openly about the rut is the only way to mend the problem. "If you’ve identified that you’re in a relationship rut, it’s important to have an open conversation with your partner about how and where each other’s needs are not being met," says Chelsea Hudson, Chicago-based therapist, over email with Bustle. Hudson recommends leading in with gratitude, expressing some of the things you love about your partner and are appreciative of, as initial positivity will be better received.

4. Be Willing To Change

It's impossible to overcome a rut unless both partners are willing to change. "After the initial honeymoon phase fades, maintaining an authentic relationship requires thoughtfulness, planning ahead and commitment to putting your partner’s needs ahead of your own," says Hudson. Take the criticisms constructively and strive to do things that you know will make your partner smile, without sacrificing your own wellbeing or sense of character in the process. However, if you find the requests to conflict with your personal goals in an unhealthy manner, it might be best to re-evaluate the relationship's worth.

5. Do Something That Scares You

Doing something that takes major courage requires support, and it gives your partner a great opportunity to be there for you. "You may be scared of different things, but you can support each other through the fear," says healthy lifestyle coach Liz Traines, over email with Bustle. "For instance, if one of you is terrified of singing, go to a karaoke bar together and sing your lungs out," Traines suggests. Usually fearful activities are quite fun and can bring back some of that adventure.

6. Be Thoughtful With Little Gestures

"Gifts, sentiments, surprises and unexpected help can increase your partner’s confidence in your commitment to them, and enhance the overall quality of the relationship," says Hudson. Showing that you're thinking of him or her during the day goes a long way in building intimacy and longing. Send a text in the day or flowers to his or her office. Gifts need not be expensive, Hudson says, and she recommends "leaving a post-it note in your partner’s lunch bag with the words “proud of how hard you work” or planning a surprise day trip to a hiking trail with a packed picnic of your partner’s favorite food" as some options.

7. Set Weekly Date Nights

Promising to provide undivided attention to each other for at least one night a week is important in re-creating that romantic element, attraction and commitment to each other. "Turn off your phone, gaze into your partner’s eyes while holding hands, reflect back what you hear them saying, and remember why you fell in love in the first place," advises Hudson. If you can, aim for a full day affair, on perhaps at Saturday.

8. Don't Smother Each Other

While spending intimate time together will help you beat the rut, there is a fine line between spending quality time together and smothering each other. Allow for one night of the week to be a "girls" or "boys" night, and enjoy the evening with friends alone. Fit in activities that you love for yourself to get some "me" time, as well, such as reading a few chapters in a novel, watching a reality TV show, taking a hot bath, or meditating. Be your own person, while still being a couple.

9. Try Something New In Bed

When a relationship is stale, usually the sex isn't so great either. Spice things up in the sheets with a new position, role-playing activity, or fantasy. You might even take it outside the bed and do it somewhere spontaneous or risky, such as in a restaurant bathroom or a car. You should also communicate with your partner about sex to find out what he or she is looking for and get rid of libido blockers.

10. Sweat Together

Exercise boosts feel-good endorphins, and research shows that couples who exercise together are more friskier and have better sex. Go for a morning run, and have sex together in the cool shower. Research also shows that people find others more attractive during exercise, and the hormone, testosterone, increases, which leads to greater arousal. Even if your partner doesn't want to exercise, doing so solo can make you more attracted to your partner and can rev up your sex drive.

11. Re-Visit Past Memories

Recalling past memories can spark happiness and make you and your partner feel more satisfied about your relationship. Acknowledging the fun times you have shared and the things you have gone through together can make you both realize how valuable each is to the other. Go back in person, too. Dine at the restaurant where you had your first date or take a trip to the destination where you had watched your friends' get married and had felt super connected to each other.

12. Be More Affectionate

Studies show that couples who are more affectionate are happier in their relationships. Touch also increases oxytocin, a hormone that creates feelings of intimacy and love. Hold each other's hands while walking or eating at a restaurant, and kiss each other upon coming home each night. Making an effort to gently touch each other on a regular basis will bring you closer together.

13. Love Yourself

Doing activities that promote self-care will bring personal happiness, which will allow you to be more positive and caring in your relationships. It's hard to love another person unless you love yourself. List the things you appreciate yourself for, and then share that gratitude with your partner. Be confident that you can make your relationship work and change to be the best version of yourself, while holding on to the things that already make you so lovable.

Getting over a relationship slump takes effort, compassion, communication and sacrifice, but if you think of the wonderful, happy memories you have shared and the positive, endearing qualities that your partner possesses, you'll know the worth of making the relationship survive. If you love your partner, it's time to embrace any fear or change that can be holding you back and to fight for your happiness.

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