If you've been with your partner for what feels like forever, consider yourself really lucky. Not many couples can say the same. Staying connected to your partner when you've been together for a long time, is no easy thing. But according to experts, there are some things you can do to make that happen.
"Couples who have been together a long time often get so used to having the other there, that they fail to really look at their partner, make eye contact, and check in," Christine Scott-Hudson, licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle.
When you feel like the spark in your relationship is long gone, it can cause you to feel disconnected and distant. You may fall into a routine. You may become bored and will then start taking each other for granted. It can even leave you feeling like your partner is just a roommate or a friend.
"Staying connected to your significant other is obviously really important, but it can be hard to do over time," Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking, tells Bustle. "There is no secret sauce to it. But a few minor adjustments can change the relationship for the better and make it sparkle and thrive."
So here's what you can do to stay connected when you've been with your partner for a long time, according to experts.
Go To Bed Together
Doing mindless things like watching TV or scrolling through Instagram can seem like the perfect way to end your day. But according to Trombetti, "This is bonding time." The last few moments of your day is a great time to chat and stay up to date on what's going on with your partner. As Trombetti says, spending those last few minutes together without any distractions promotes connection.
Remind Your Partner About All The Great Things They've Done
When it comes to conflict, you should always leave the past in the past. But when it comes to compliments, it's OK to bring up your partner's past achievements in order to remind them of how great they are. It's really effective when they're feeling down. "When you've been with someone for a long time, good things that happened in the past can fall under the radar," Mackenzie Riel, relationship expert with TooTimid, tells Bustle. "Acknowledging your partner's successes can revive their spark, and make your connection more intimate and strong."
Update Your Relationship Rituals Regularly
"Rituals of connection are repetitively interactions between you and your partner throughout your day, week, and year that help you stay connected to one another," Liz Colizza, MA, LPC, head of research at Lasting, tells Bustle. Some examples of these rituals include kissing each other in the morning before going to work, having weekly date nights, and celebrating your anniversary in a special way each year. These rituals help to create "rhythm and consistency" in your relationship. But if you want these things to help you stay connected, it's important to keep updating it. Don't let it become too routine. "As your relationship grow and changes, take time to assess and renegotiate your rituals of connection with your partner," Colizza says. "Figure out what you both need and how you can create patterns of connection that meet both your needs."
If you want to keep your bond intact and your relationship hot, be affectionate. Touch each other. It doesn't have to be sexual either. "Cuddling has incredible benefits including the release of oxytocin in your body," Colizza says. Oxytocin, also known as the "love hormone," is key in creating an emotional bond between two people.
Be Open To Discovering New Things About Your Partner
You can still learn new things about your partner even if you've been together for years. As Colizza says, "You will never know everything about your partner because your partner continues to grow and change." So keep asking questions. Stay curious about your partner's like, dislikes, dreams, and fears. Chances are, their goals from when you first met are a lot different now. If you want to stay connected, express an interest in getting to know their "inner world" by asking thoughtful questions.
Laughter Together And Share Inside Jokes
A 2017 University of Kansas study found that a shared sense of humor is tied to relationship success. If you and your partner have something you can both laugh at, it's really good for your relationship. As Claudia Cox, dating expert and founder of Text Weapon, tells Bustle, "Staying connected with your partner is all about having great communication, showing gratitude, breaking out of the mundane, and creating things that are sacred to you both." Having inside jokes nurtures a strong connection because they were created for just the two of you.
When you've been with your partner for a long time, the usual things can start to feel old. But don't let routine or boredom cause distance in your relationship. If you make it a point to do any of the above, your connection is sure to last.