Wellness

13 Expert-Approved Ways To Help Your Relationship Thrive In 2022

The smallest things can make the biggest difference.

The littlest things can make a big difference when it comes to improving your relationship.
Shutterstock

As 2022 gets going, our Instagram and TikTok feeds are bound to start filling up with the quintessential “new year, new me” posts. While committing to morning yoga five days a week or sticking to a monthly budget can be great things to strive for on our own, this time of self-reflection is a good time to set some relationship goals for 2022 as well.

Whether you’ve been with your partner for years or just a few months, after the honeymoon period is over, it’s easy to fall into a routine with your partner. While you don’t need to labor over every text message like you did in the beginning, you don’t want to risk getting too comfortable and letting the relationship languish, either. As psychotherapist and relationship expert Parisa Ghanbari tells Bustle, “Relationships are like plants; if we don’t water and nourish them, the plants will inevitably die.” Being content and secure in your partnership is a good thing, but even decades-long relationships need attention to thrive.

The smallest things can make the biggest difference, and often don’t take much time or energy from your day. Setting a few relationship goals for 2022 will help keep your partnership happy and harmonious.

Try A New Hobby Together

If you find yourselves spending most of your free time on the couch watching Netflix or scrolling TikTok, you and your partner might benefit from finding a shared hobby. Sign up for a pottery class, surf lessons, or a weekly trivia night — whatever you will both enjoy together.

Set Aside Time For Daily Active Listening

Ghanbari recommends couples set aside 3-5 minutes every day for “active listening.” “During this time, your sole focus is on your partner, what they’re telling you about their thoughts and feelings, and your intention is to make your partner feel heard and understood,” Ghanbari explains. When we’re occupied with the everyday shuffle of life, it’s easy to forget to make time for each other, so this is a great way for busy couples to take a moment for connection with each other.

Have A Date Night At Least Once A Week

In well-established relationships, there is often a tendency to neglect quality time together. Even if you and your partner have lived together for years, it’s important to continue “dating” each other. Designating one night a week for a date night, whether you dress up and head out to a nice cocktail bar or make dinner together at home, makes a world of difference.

Try A Foursome

No, not that kind. While all friendships are important, it’s a great idea for you and your partner to befriend other couples. Sure, it’s a way to see other people while spending time with your partner, but it can actually improve your relationship dynamic too. “When people see their partners interacting with other people, it appears to give them new perspective, like ‘Look, other people like him or her, too!’’’ Kathleen Holtz Deal, Ph.D., MSW told Fatherly. “You see things that make you more appreciative of your partner than in the day-to-day of home life.”

If you don’t have many couple friends, let this be the year that you meet some! Joining local intramural sports teams or trying out a shared hobby would be great places to start.

Make & Maintain A Sexy Advent Calendar

Spice things up in your relationship with some new new in the bedroom. After a conversation surrounding consent and comfort level, work with your partner to choose one new position, technique, or toy to try together each month. This is a great way to enhance your sex life while discovering even more about each other’s bodies and preferences.

Hit The Gym Together

If working out more or focusing on nutrition is something you’re aiming for in 2022, why not involve your partner in your journey? You can both hold each other accountable while encouraging each other to reach your goals. After all, research has shown that 66% of couples who exercise together say it improved their relationship.

Go Off The Grid

We may be heading into a third pandemic-ridden year, but that doesn’t mean that planning time away together is impossible. When it’s safe to do so, try to plan at least one significant trip to a mutually desired location — even if it’s just a quick weekend getaway. For a COVID-safe option, you can always plan a staycation within your area by splurging on a fancy hotel room or Airbnb or even camping out within driving distance. Getting a change of scenery and having adventures together is never a bad idea.

Practice Using Each Other’s Love Language

If you haven’t already, you and your partner should take the 5 Love Languages quiz. This will help you better understand how your partner wants to be loved, and what that looks like for your relationship. From there, try to regularly make small gestures that demonstrate how well you know them. For example, if your partner’s love language is gifts, you can pick up a magazine they might like and their favorite candy next time you’re at the grocery store.

Work On Anticipating Your Partner’s Needs

According to Ghanbari, this doesn’t always have to mean grand gestures. She shares that this can be as simple as making your partner a cup of tea after work if you know they had a stressful day. “We all appreciate when our needs and wants are being attended to without us having to necessarily express them,” she says.

Volunteer Together

Volunteering with your partner is an awesome way to both spend time together and give back to your community. You can brainstorm local causes or charities together that you might be passionate about, and decide when and in what capacity you can donate your time and efforts. Seeing your partner in action serving others might even be a little sexy.

Event-ize The Little Things

If you and your partner are really into music, you’re probably already swapping new songs and albums you find constantly. To make it a little more fun, challenge each other to put together monthly playlists for different settings — morning commutes, gym routines, making dinner, etc. If you’re big movie buffs, plan an in-home foreign film festival or ten nights of old Hollywood classics. It could even be as simple as choosing a show neither of you have seen yet to start watching on a certain night each week. In any case, turning the things you’re already doing together into special events you can both look forward to will help build excitement.

Plan Small Surprises Throughout The Year

As the year progresses, try to plan small surprises for each other every so often. This is a great way to take each other’s love language into account. Whether it’s concert tickets to see their favorite band or just washing and putting away all their laundry for them, any surprise gesture can show your partner that you care.

Check In About Your Relationship Goals That Go Beyond 2022

Make it a point to talk regularly with your partner about what you envision for your future together. Do you want to start a family in a certain timeframe? Are you planning to buy a house, or take a certain vacation? These are big decisions that require you both to be on the same page, so checking in with each other on a regular basis about what you see in your future can help get you there.

Experts:

Parisa Ghanbari, psychotherapist & relationship expert