Love may change all the time, but closeness is always the constant. (And I don't just mean that kind of closeness.) Odds are if you're in a relationship, it's safe to presume you and you your partner are already pretty tight. But here's the clincher: you can always be closer; just because you're one half of a couple, doesn't mean there aren't things you need — and should! — do to protect your relationship, as well as become even more bonded with your significant other.
Sound familiar? Probably because you've heard these famous words countless times before: the most successful relationships take work. A lot of it. In fact, the older I get — and more divorces I see — the more respect I have for those couples who are not only able to stay together and actually be happy, but continue to flourish together.
In other words, for your relationship to really grow, you have to be willing to dig in your heels. Don't take my word for it, just ask the pros who counsel couples every day. "Relationships are like gardens," Laura Bilotta, author of relationship and dating advice book Single in the City, tells Bustle. "They need to be tended to or they will wither and die."
So how do you keep your garden, well, thriving? Here are the seven things Bilotta thinks every couple should do to grow closer.
1. Leave A Bad Work Day At The Office
This could change a lot. "I’m not saying bottle up your feelings, or don’t share with your partner, I’m saying treat your partner as a source of joy," explains Bilotta. "On the trip back home from work, think about how much better your day is going to get once you set eyes on your mate."
2. Never Go To Bed Angry
"There’s truth in that old chestnut," claims Bilotta. "If you practice this, it will go a long way to prevent resentment — and resentment is cancer to any relationship. Deal with any issues you may have before sleep takes the edge off and leaves that unresolved issue simmering."
3. Date Night. Repeat: Date Night.
You hear about how important it is all the time, but do you actually prioritize it in your relationship? "A night just for the two of you is always a good idea, and it’s he first thing that gets sacrificed when life gets too busy," explains Bilotta. "Make it a priority, it’s important to ‘check in’ with your mate, otherwise a distance begins to creep in and can eventually become an unbridgeable chasm."
4. Vow To Learn Something New About Your Partner
"I recently heard Kyra Sedgwick talking about her 27 year marriage to Kevin Bacon, saying that she still learns something new about him every week," she says.
Now that's impressive!
5. Avoid Name Calling At All Costs
"Sorry, your Mom was wrong — sticks and stones may break your bones but bones heal," exclaims Bilotta. "Names can and do hurt, and those hurts cannot be fixed with a bandaid. Watch your tone and the expression on your face when in a ‘disagreement’. Remember, this is the person you love, treat him/her with respect!"
How you treat each other when you're arguing is just as important — if not more — as how you treat each other when you're getting along.
6. Put Yourself First
"This one always flummoxes people, but you should always remember to take care of yourself first," stresses Bilotta. "If you’re putting your partner’s needs before your own, yours will go unattended and will take every opportunity to spread to every corner of your relationship. If you’re feeling good, you’re emitting positive energy, which benefits everyone you come into contact with." Who doesn't want that?
7. Before You Go To Sleep Think Of Five Things You Love About Your Partner
As Bilotta says, "Appreciation is an underestimated emotion that reaps limitless rewards."