The beauty of relationships is that we’re always growing and evolving, so there’s always something new to learn. These sacred pratices are just a few examples of how to connect on intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and physical levels. If you have been with your partner for any length of time, you have already created a few little routines that are special and unique to just the two of you. I know my hubby and I have our own way of sending “air smooches” when we’re across the room from each other, or making stupid sitcom references that only we get, and always insist on watching “True Romance” on Valentine’s Day. Including some of these easy and fun practices into your daily lives are a simple, fun way to keep the romance alive, and I’m sure you’ll make up some more of your own as the days and years go by…
1 – Hold Hands
I hope that you are already doing this instinctively, but if the habit has faded, bring it back! Connecting through hand holding is a simple way to build intimacy and it is very effective for reducing stress. Try holding hands when you are sitting at the breakfast table, heading out the door or watching television. Then, spend a few minutes talking about something in your life that is causing you stress and anxiety. Maybe it’s a problem at work, an issue with the kids or a financial worry. Whatever it is, hold your partner’s hand while you are talking about it. Think about how it feels to touch your partner, to feel your hand squeezed and to squeeze another hand.
2 – Eye Contact
This can be a challenge for some, as making eye contact with people throughout the day can sometimes be uncomfortable – even more so when you are on shaky ground with your partner. Eye contact is a super important form of visual communication that indicates honesty and openness, so praticing looking into your spouse’s eyes is an excellent way to deepen your connection. Try to make direct eye contact before you hug and kiss, when you are having a serious conversation, when you are both laughing at the same thing, or when you are watching your children asleep. Hold the gaze for a count of ten without blinking or looking away. Breathe deeply and look lovingly.
3 – Kiss Hello & Goodbye
When we live with someone – much less sleep with them – we develop a level of intimacy that can sometimes get taken for granted. Make it a rule to kiss your partner before you leave each other in the morning and when you come home to each other at night. And if you can hold that kiss for 7 seconds, it boosts not only your connection, but your oxytocin levels as well. A mindless peck on the cheek is not enough to foster intimacy or stir up arousal, so make it a habit, be fully present for it and enjoy it!
4 – Weekly Check-in
The everyday business of life can certainly make time fly, but we should still make time to check into our relationship. Once a week (Sundays might be good) set aside 30 minutes to update each other on what happened this week, what’s on the agenda for next week, and where you are with household chores, errands and finances. You don’t necessarily have to solve anything, just communicate and make a plan together. Then support each other through the week by asking if they need help with their end of things. It’s like having a weekly status meeting for your business, but more compassionate, of course.
5 – Nature Experiences
I’ve always said that “Nature is my church.” Every time my hubby and I get out into the great outdoors we not only have a fun adventure together, but we also get to let Nature heal our weary souls. There is nothing like a little fresh air, sunshine and scenery to perk up your spirit and invigorate your relationship. And if you’re having a tough day out there in the wilderness, use it as an opportunity for personal growth, rather than a reason to lash out at your partner. Another thing I’ve always said, “One day hiking, fishing, skiing or camping with your partner is better than 10 days in therapy”, and I still think that’s true after 18 years of marriage, so get out there and let nature do its work.
6 – Gratitude List
There can be so many things that weigh down a marriage, but there are also so many things that make a marriage worth the struggle. Showing gratitude on a daily basis is a common mindfulness practice proven to boost happiness, help us get better sleep and even reduce illness. Gratitude exercises also can make us feel closer to our romantic partners. Write down three things about your partner for which you feel grateful. Take a moment to read what you wrote about each other. Are you surprised by your partner’s feelings? Talk about these moments of gratitude and how they make you feel more connected to each other.
7 – Date Night
Planning a date night is crucial to a long-lasting relationship, but it can be incredibly easy to get caught in a dating rut, though. If dinner and a movie is your “go to” Saturday night plan, you might be missing out on opportunities to see your significant other through fresh eyes. The idea is to do something that each of you can enjoy (maybe not equally but you shouldn’t have to drag each other to the activity) and have an experience, rather than just go anywhere to spend time and money. Looking forward to something special or new is half the fun, and knowing that you are specifically making time for new memories together is priceless. And it doesn’t have to be flashy, daring or out of the ordinary. Any activity that helps you find serenity and wonderment together is just as important as having fun.
8 – Prayer Jar
I’m sure you’ve heard of a “swear jar”, but let’s just swap that concept with prayers instead of swears. Every time you’re upset about your relationship, daily life, work or whatever, write down a short prayer about that issue and put it in the jar. You can then re-visit the prayers on Sundays, date or family nights, or whenever you feel inspired to ask Spirit to help you. Don’t worry about formalities, just write down your worry or complaint, turn it over to God/Higher Power and know that you are supported in your request. Then go about your day knowing that you are investing in the positive instead of dwelling on the negative in your relationship.
The most important thing is that you are cultivating a growing, dynamic connection with each other while offering a soft place to land. Don’t save it for special occasions or when you’re in the doghouse. Go out of your way just a little bit each day to let your partner know that you’re still on the same page, and ready for more.