Your relationship shouldn’t feel like work. The good news is that by giving some thought to yours over the next seven days, it never has to. The following steps constitute a week’s worth of relationship galvanizers that will keep things fun, moving and meaningful. Start today and ward off stagnation!
Day 1: Envision your future.
One of the best conversations I’ve ever had my wife started like this: “Imagine your ideal life. Now tell me about it.” The idea is, let’s explore how we want to be living five or ten years from now. You could have a number of questions to steer the conversation: Where do we wake up? What does our house look like? What are we doing for work? What is it about the work we enjoy? How much do we earn? Who are our friends? What kind of things do we do for fun? This allows you get the inside track on the outcomes your partner wants for her life. It gives you an invaluable insight into the person, and she’ll be really receptive toward being asked in a way she hasn’t been asked before. She’ll more than likely ask the same questions back, and you can see where your ultimate goals are and aren’t aligned. It may sound all business, but it’s important.
Day 2: Do goals worksheets together.
To paraphrase Woody Allen , relationships are like sharks— they have to keep moving or they die. Going somewhere within a relationship is important: You should have goals to achieve together and separately. Those benchmarks don’t have to align, but they should be complemetary. (Like, ahem, having kids.) In Day 1, you established your vision. On Day 2, discuss how you’re going to get there. Goals won’t seem so daunting if you divide things into waystations, like Health, Career and Personal. For example: If you want to earn $200,000 in ten years and you earn $50,000 now, what do you need to be earning in five years? Once you have these waystations in place, your path to reaching the destination you discussed in day one will become more clear. Write your goals down and revisit them every six months to check your progress. Being in a successful relationship isn’t about sacrificing your dreams, just making sure they’re harmonious. (And cut yourself some slack: Goals should have a 50% likelihood of not being realized. The idea is to push yourself.)
Day 3: Keep things novel
Today, try a shared experience that neither of you have done before. Women crave novelty, and one reason relationships sink into the doldrums is that couples do the same thing again and again. There’s a lot of science behind adventure dates: Excitement-Transfer Theory (or ETT) holds that when you do something exciting with someone, they transfer their excitement to you. Any guy who’s ever given a girl a ride on the back of his motorcycle benefits from ETT. It doesn’t have to be something dangerous, just some a bit thrilling with perhaps an element of risk. You’re establishing yourself as a source of excitement, even if you just suggested it or are along for the ride. And it works both ways. If you’re in a situation you’ve never in, you’ll see a different side of her personality.
Day 4: Do something selfless.
Gift her something that’s all about her: A massage, a spa treatment, a yoga class pack or something else that’ll make her feel good. I started doing that with my wife recently; being the practical type, she can’t stand spending money frivolously. But when I bought her a salon treatments, she said, “Oh God, I’ve wanted to do this all the time.” She loved it because she wouldn’t have done it for herself, and she didn’t have to do anything but sit back and enjoy it. Do things that show you cherish her, and she’ll feel better about her you. You should want her to feel her the best all the time—your relationship is the best when she’s feeling great.
Day 5: Establish a hierarchy of asks.
Recently, my wife and I had a fight because on a night out, I was grumpy in front of her friends. I was tired and stressed from work and couldn’t perform the way she wanted to. We talked it through and established that we don’t ask each other many things, so when we do ask for something, we should know that it’s significant. Ask her what she wishes you would do (or do differently) or like. Figure out how important that is to her. Figure out where you can change. And make sure the conversation goes both ways.
Day 6: Change your perspective on her idiosyncracies.
I’m a bit of a neat freak, and I used to moan about my wife not being tidy or closing kitchen drawers. Then I learned to appreciate these inconsequential quirks. It’s really being accepting of someone’s core: “Oh well—she’s just not going to be a certain way; Is that a dealbreaker, or is it something I can learn to live with and appreciate?” Another example: My wife is stubborn about socializing. On occasion, it drives me crazy. But I’ve learned to admire that she doesn’t do things out of social obligation. Yet another example: I love to sleep in on the weekend, and she never has. She’s always up early doing things around the house and waking me up to get. On one hand, I’d like to lie in. On the other hand, I admire her spirit and energy for getting things done. Instead of lamenting that I wasn’t getting to sleep in, I started thinking, “Look at my amazing wife, she’s getting things done.” The only thing that changed was my perspective.
Day 7: Honor the part of her that’s sexual.
Too often, sex becomes a perfunctory thing that’s done during commercial breaks. Today, have an honest conversation about desire. Have a conversation that tickles her intellectual G-spot: Who’s her celebrity crush? What does imagine it would be like to meet him? What does she like about him? It’s a harmless conversation that gets her thinking about sexual agency and autonomy in a safe way. Separate your own ego from it. You have desires, and she has desires. Work them out together, and your relationship will only get stronger.