In the everyday chaos of things, it can be easy to get thrown into a routine and stay there — especially in your relationship. You might find yourself just going through the motions with your partner, rather than really appreciating the time you spend together. And if this has made you feel distant from your significant other, you may be trying to think of little ways to get closer to your partner. Fortunately, there are little routines you can fit into your week that are easy, and nourishing to your relationship.
Like most things, relationships need care and attention to thrive. Candice Smith, sex expert and founder of Two to Tango Intimacy Coaching, tells Bustle, "I like to think of relationship maintenance like tending a garden. While the occasional grand gesture can be exciting and great, just as occasionally adding plant fertilizer can help a plant bloom, plants thrive most with regular nurturing and watering. Keep your romantic bond strong with regular small interactions that show your partner how much you care — and your relationship will continue to grow, blossom, and thrive." And if you're looking for ways to keep your garden green, here are 23 things you can do to feel closer to your partner this week.
1. Kiss For Six Seconds
Based on Dr. John Gottman’s research on romance and connection, Nicole Richardson, LPC-S, LMFT, recommends greeting your partner each time you see each other with a six-second kiss. “A six-second kiss when partners meet can positively alter the interaction,” Richardson tells Bustle.
Since a six-second kiss is long enough to feel intimate with your partner but it isn’t overly time consuming, it’s a great way to reconnect during the week when you may only have a limited free time. Those six seconds before you leave in the morning will linger with you at work, and the six seconds when you return home will give you something to look forward to, allowing the warm and fuzzy feelings to stay with you throughout your busy day.
2. Share Good News
To create a positive connection between you and your partner, share one piece of good news with each other every day, Noelle Cordeaux, sexologist and co-founder of JRNI, tells Bustle. “Intentionally leaning into and sharing positive thoughts and experiences with your partner will elevate your mood jointly,” she says. While you should rely on your partner in good times and bad, bringing more positivity into your relationship on a daily basis can both increase the joy in your partnership and help you appreciate the good parts of your day.
3. Send A Text When You're Thinking Of Each Other
When you’re thinking of your partner during the day, shoot them a text so they know they’re on your mind. The message can simply be that you’re wishing them luck in an important meeting or presentation, or it can be a more intimate sentiment, Irene Fehr, sex and intimacy coach, tells Bustle.
Sharing these thoughts “can bring people closer in connection,” Fehr says. Most of us spend a good amount of our day glued to our computer or phone, so sending your partner a sweet message can seamlessly fit into the flow of your work day.
4. Send A Good Morning And Goodnight Text
If you and your partner don’t live together, a simple way to feel connected on a daily basis is by sending each other good morning and goodnight texts, Julia Bekker, matchmaker and dating coach with Hunting Maven, tells Bustle. “These small things add to and maintain a connection,” she says. It’s comforting for your partner to know that they’re the first thing on your mind when you wake up in the morning and the last thing you think about before you go to bed at night. Even if you do live together, still make sure to share these sentiments to your partner each day.
5. Do Your Partner A Favor
Couples are often told that complimenting each other can make them feel closer. But you can do your partner one better by doing something for them that they had to get done. Jamie LeClaire, sexuality educator and writer, tells Bustle, "Doing something thoughtful that makes your partner’s life easier, like checking something off your partner’s to-do list, can be a great way to feel more connected to them, especially if you know your partner appreciates 'acts of service.'"
6. Make Out Like When Your First Met
When you begin a relationship with a new partner, everything is still so new and exciting, like going on fun dates and starting to intimately explore each other. That first make out session can make you fall for someone and give you all the feels. But, as time goes on, you may lose that thrill. “Often in long-term relationships, couples forget the basics of connection: kissing,” Amy Levine, sex coach and founder of Ignite Your Pleasure, tells Bustle. That’s why making out with your partner a couple times a week can bring back those butterflies you felt when you first started seeing them.
7. Ask Each Other The 36 Questions That Lead To Love
Popularized by Mandy Len Catron’s 2015 Modern Love column in the New York Times, the 36 questions that lead to love are scientifically proven to make two people fall for each other. These questions are broken down into three different sets, becoming increasingly intimate as they progress. During your date night this week, Mike Goldstein, founder of EZ Dating Coach, recommends asking each other this list of questions.
Even if you think you know everything about your partner, answering these questions will be sure to teach you something new and allow you to find new connections. But, don’t sweat it if you don’t get through the whole list. “When I personally tried it, my partner and I made it to question 28 until we both decided we need to take ‘a break’ together,” Goldstein says. It’s all about feeling out the questions with your partner and deciding how far you should go at the current point in your relationship.
8. Take A Walk
Either in the morning before you head to work or in the evening when you get home after a busy day, take a walk with your partner. If something’s on your mind and you want to bring it up with your partner, this is a great time to have that discussion. “Conversations about dreams and desires can take attention away from the craziness of life and infuse much needed relaxation and closeness,” Fehr says. Especially if you have a dog, you’ll already be taking walks each day. So, why not make it a partner activity?
9. Work On A Fight You Keep Having
Let's face it: Every couple has arguments from time to time. And if you're noticing that there's one fight that keeps coming up again and again, you can feel closer to your partner this week by agreeing to a "fight plan" so that you can squash the argument in the most effective and mature way possible. Stef Safran, matchmaker and owner of Stef and the City, tells Bustle, "Everyone is going to get into a fight at some point. Agree to have a plan of action so that when things get heated, you don't make things blow up worse. Agree to talk on the phone or in person, but [don't do it via text]." By tackling the issue before it occurs again, you can show your partner you're dedicated to enjoying the relationship and not letting little arguments get in the way.
10. Share Your Daily Highs And Lows
After a busy day of work, it’s nice to get in the habit of either sitting down with your partner or calling them and going over your high and low of the day, Tyler Turk, founder of Crated With Love, a monthly date night subscription box, tells Bustle. This practice helps with “building empathy, building sympathy, [and] reconnecting on an emotional level,” he says.
We often fall into the trap of scrolling through Instagram or streaming Netflix after work, rather than taking the time to hear about the high and low points of our partner’s day. While these self-care activities are important, it’s also important to set time aside to learn about each other and decompress after a hectic schedule
11. Go Out For Drinks Together During The Week
A nice way to break up your weekly routine is to grab drinks with your partner after work, Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking, tells Bustle. Or, if drinks aren’t your thing, find another culinary indulgence to share with your partner. “It's all in the time together to talk as a couple and connect,” Trombetti says. It’ll also take you back to the beginning of your relationship when grabbing a drink together filled your stomach with butterflies and gave you the chance to have some one-on-one time.
12. Take A Painting Class
These days, pretty much any art studio features a date night painting class, where couples can come and create their own masterpieces. “Activities like this make couples feel like a team and build connection,” Bekker tells Bustle. Plus, organized painting classes typically involve wine. You can indulge in a drink, spend time with your partner, and paint new art for your home all in one night.
13. Work More Physical Affection Into Your Day
Have you ever wondered why a simple hug from your partner can instantly boost your mood? According to Anita A. Chlipala, LMFT and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple’s Guide to Lasting Love, “When you touch your partner, oxytocin, also known as the ‘cuddle hormone’ flows through your body.” It only takes 20 seconds of physical contact for your body to release the chemical, Chlipala says, which leaves you feeling more relaxed and less stressed, and it increases attachment and trust in your partner.
By making physical contact a part of your daily routine, you can both improve your own mental state and strengthen your connection with your partner.
14. Cook Dinner Together
Instead of having one person cook dinner or each eating your own meals, make an effort to cook dinner together. This “takes the pressure off one [person] and you are also indirectly spending quality time with one another,” Laura Bilotta, author of Single in the City and host of the “Dating and Relationship Talk Show,” tells Bustle. Plus, it may help solve any disagreements over which partner will take on the “chef role” in the relationship.
15. Give Your Partner A Daily Compliment
When you wake up each morning or before you go to bed each night, make it a point to tell your partner one thing you appreciate about them. “Make the time for it,” Sarah Watson, licensed professional counselor and sex therapist, tells Bustle. “You most likely schedule everything else, schedule this too.”
If you find yourself forgetting to do this, set a daily reminder on your phone to give your partner a compliment. Whether you see your partner in person every day or mainly communicate over text, it’s important to remind them why you fell in love with them in the first place. Who doesn’t love receiving compliments?
16. Make Playlists For Each Other
If you listen to music as you get ready in the morning or commute to work, you may have noticed that popping in your headphones can completely change your mood. In a Nature Neuroscience study, researchers found that your brain releases dopamine, which is a chemical associated with pleasure, as a response to emotional parts of a song. This is the same chemical that your brain releases during sex. To emulate those pleasurable feelings toward your partner when you’re busy or just not together, make each other playlists to listen to that remind you of your relationship. You’ll get all the feels, distracting you from the busy work week ahead of you.
17. Practice The Five-To-One Rule
While certain things about your partner are sure to irk you, it’s important to pick your battles. “The five-to-one rule means [you] make sure to compliment or say encouraging words to your partner many more times than negativity, stonewalling, insults, or extreme sarcasm, and all the dark things that can eventually destroy relationships,” Laney Zuckerman, author and relationship coach, tells Bustle. This doesn’t mean you should never speak up when your partner upsets you; rather you should remember to keep a healthy balance between confrontation and compliments.
Make an effort this week to let positive thoughts and emotions outweigh the occasional negative reactions you may have to your partner’s actions. By intentionally bringing more positivity into your relationship, you can prevent small things from unnecessarily causing fights and creating distance between you and your partner.
18. Ask Each Other Meaningful Questions
One of the easiest ways to show your partner that you care about them is to simply ask them questions about how they are and what they did that day. “You can express interest by … being present (leaning in and making eye contact),” Dr. Stefani Threadgill Briggs, sex therapist and sexologist, tells Bustle. This shows your partner that you are thinking about them and putting their wellbeing at the forefront of your mind. But remember — this isn’t an interview. You want to make sure that you are having a two-sided conversation, Threadgill Briggs says, to make each other feel appreciated and supported.
19. Send Each Other Letters
Even if you live with your partner or see them every day, send them a love letter in the mail, Nina Rubin, Gestalt life coach and psychotherapist, tells Bustle. In the digital age of constant communication, there's still something so special and exciting about getting a physical letter delivered to your home. While a sweet text may get lost in the shuffle of other messages and a meaningful phone call only lives on through memory, a letter forever remains a physical token of your relationship. "If you can’t mail something," Rubin adds, "tuck a love letter in a small compartment or your partner’s car." The idea of your partner unexpectedly finding a love letter in their car will evoke the same emotional response as receiving a surprise note in the mail.
20. Schedule Time To Talk About Your Days
You might go through the daily “How was your day?” back and forth with your partner, but at this point you may be just receiving routine answers. Get closer to your partner this week by sitting down and scheduling time to really go in depth about your days and your feelings. Richard Horowitz, professional educator and cofounder of Growing Great Relationships, tells Bustle, “Sharing day-to-day experiences increases communication and emotional intimacy in a relationship. It also foster cooperation and effective problem solving strategies which minimizes conflicts.”
21. Create A Vision Board
If you envision a strong future with your partner, a great way to feel closer this week is to create a board depicting your plans for the next couple years. “Future visioning is another powerful tool to bring couples closer together and create a shared landscape of hope for the future,” Cordeaux says. You can pick out everything from the type of house you want to your dream job, getting you and your partner excited about what’s to come in your life together. Plus, who doesn’t love a good craft night?
22. Book A Couples Massage
If you’re having a stressful work week and feeling distant from your partner, nothing could be better than a tranquil couples massage. “Many couples report this is not only tremendously relaxing, but having this done together incorporates wonderful serenity, closeness, and self-care into your relationship,” Zukerman says. You’ll leave the massage table feeling connected to your own body and mind, while also rekindling a spark between you and your partner.
23. Learn Your Partner’s Love Language
Different people prefer different ways of showing and receiving love from their partner. “Some may prefer to spend as much time with their partner as they can, while others feel connected when their partner helps around the house,” Chlipala says. It’s important to identify your partner’s top love language, so you can make them feel supported.
While in the back of their mind, your partner knows that you love and care about them, sometimes they may need you to put in extra effort to show that you understand what they need from you. If you take the time to learn your partner’s desires, you will both end up feeling more emotionally and romantically fulfilled.
It can be hard to carve out time for our partners, but routine shouldn't have to make you feel distant from your significant other. Try one of these things or all of them — the most important thing is that you and your partner continue to put in effort to stay connected and close.
Additional reporting by Eden Lichterman.
In Brief: Hugs Heartfelt in More Ways Than One. Harvard Health Publishing - https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/In_brief_Hugs_heartfelt_in_more_ways_than_one
Salimpoor, V. N., Benovoy, M., Larcher, K., Dagher, A., & Zatorre, R. J. (2011, January 9). Anatomically distinct dopamine release during anticipation and experience of peak emotion to music. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/nn.2726.
Candice Smith, sex expert and founder of Two to Tango Intimacy Coaching
Irene Fehr, sex and intimacy coach
Jamie LeClaire, sexuality educator and writer
Stef Safran, matchmaker and owner of Stef and the City
Tyler Turk, founder of Crated With Love
Richard Horowitz, professional educator and cofounder of Growing Great Relationships
Anita A. Chlipala, LMFT and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple’s Guide to Lasting Love
Sarah Watson, licensed professional counselor and sex therapist
Dr. Stefani Threadgill Briggs, sex therapist and sexologist
Nina Rubin, Gestalt life coach and psychotherapist
Laney Zuckerman, author and relationship coach
Mike Goldstein, founder of EZ Dating Coach
Julia Bekker, matchmaker and dating coach with Hunting Maven
Amy Levine, sex coach and founder of Ignite Your Pleasure
Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking
Noelle Cordeaux, sexologist and co-founder of JRNI
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