In the beginning of a relationship, even tiny things like falling asleep next to each other or laughing together over drinks feel exciting and meaningful. Then, several weeks or months in, you can do the exact same things and feel nothing. Knowing how to avoid taking your partner for granted can fortunately prevent this gradual downslide, though.
But that takes more than just the intention to appreciate each other. Sometimes, concrete actions are necessary to ensure that you're enjoying your relationship to its fullest and letting your partner know how much you care about them. This'll not only keep things exciting for you but also leave them satisfied in the relationship.
I've personally noticed that when I've taken partners for granted, I've been less able to overlook little problems because I've lost sight of what I'm overlooking them for. In my experience, the more you appreciate your partner, the less likely you are to get into needless fights. Plus, you often realize how much you love someone once you face the threat of them leaving, and focusing on what you love about them now can prevent you from reaching that point.
So, here are some techniques from experts and people who have tried them to avoid taking your significant other for granted.
1. Give Compliments
You may assume your significant other already knows you find them attractive or fun to be around, but knowing it and hearing it are two different things. "Telling your partner that they’re attractive, sexy, or the best spouse ever is something that no one gets tired of hearing," relationship expert April Masini tells Bustle. "Especially when it’s a compliment that’s unique in your own voice."
2. Spend Time Apart
Sometimes, all it takes to regain appreciation for someone is to take a hiatus from them. Visit your family or friends for the weekend, and when you come back, you'll probably be more grateful for your partner. "There’s nothing like missing someone to realize what it is you do miss," says Masini.
3. Take Over Each Other's Chores
One way to appreciate what your partner does for you is to do it yourself. That's why artist Kevin Caron and his wife, Mary, play a game called "Mutual Spoilage," where they reverse household duties. While she cooks breakfast — something he normally does — he might do the laundry, which is usually her duty. They get extra points for doing these things without their partners even knowing. "That establishes that we are each doing our best and always acting from love," he tells Bustle.
4. Remember How Bad You Once Had It
To appreciate the present, it helps to remember the past. Laura L. Ryan, LMFT, suggests thinking about your past relationships and all the positive ways your current one is different. "Remember your 'worst moments playbook' with an ex so that you can appreciate how good you've got it with your current partner," she suggests.
5. Tell Your Partner When They've Done Something Right
Even something as simple as making coffee for both of you in the morning deserves a "thank you," says Ryan. Don't ever assume your partner already knows you're grateful. Plus, when they receive positive feedback, they'll go out of their way to do even more for you, leading to an ongoing cycle of appreciation.
6. Get Each Other Gifts
It only takes five minutes to stop and pick up flowers, a card, or an item you've noticed your partner needs, like a new bottle of shampoo or phone charger. But the impact it has on them can be huge, says Ryan. "When we give our partner something 'just because,' they feel cared for and important to us."
7. Create A Bit Of Schadenfreude
If your friends want to complain about their single lives and the crappy dates they've been on, tell them you're all ears. Hearing about how rough it can be out there will make you pretty glad you're not on the market anymore, according to Ryan. Being single can be great too, of course, but the grass can seem greener when you're not reminded of the hardships that come with it.
8. Go On Fun Dates
Especially if you live together, you might forget to actually date each other. But going on a date — especially an unusual one like trapeze lessons or a hot air balloon ride — can induce that exciting new-relationship feeling again. "Novel experiences increase excitement and connection in the relationship because you are doing something new and different together," says Ryan. We often think of getting bored and taking each other for granted as an inevitable part of a relationship's progression, but with a little effort, it really doesn't have to be.
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