Rachel Goldman, PhD FTOS, is a licensed psychologist, clinical assistant professor, speaker, wellness expert specializing in eating behaviors, stress management, and health behavior change.
Whether you’ve been dating someone a while, currently live with a partner, or are part of a long-married couple, you might be seeking ways to better the relationship you have.
Unlike holiday love stories and romantic comedies in which all is resolved after one or two conflicts, maintaining thriving relationships takes some effort. But it doesn’t have to be difficult.
With the daily grind of responsibilities and frayed nerves, it’s understandable why dealing with partner issues falls to the bottom of your list. Just keeping up with all of life’s responsibilities-work, kids, family, friends, neighbors, your home-is taxing, and many of us are plain tired. Especially during difficult times, it’s easier to avoid facing your stalling relationship or eroded intimacy issues.
There are a few tried-and-true methods that work to improve relationships: be a good listener, carve out time together, enjoy a quality sex life, and divvy up those pesky chores. While these have been proven effective by relationship experts, you can also branch out to these seven unexpected ways to bond and enhance your relationship.
Spend Time Apart
It sounds counterintuitive as a way to improve your relationship, but take a break from your partner. Everyone needs their own space and quality time outside a relationship. Dating and marriage counselors remind us that you deserve that breathing room.
Esther Perel, MA, LMFT, is a therapist and author who has two popular podcast series. In her book, “Mating in Captivity: Unlocking how does Meet24 work Erotic Intelligence,” she stresses how important space is in relationships.
Esther Perel, MA, LMFT
When intimacy collapses into fusion, it is not a lack of closeness but too much closeness that impedes desire. Our need for togetherness exists alongside our need for separateness. Thus, separateness is a precondition for connection: this is the essential paradox of intimacy and sex.
Individuals need time on their own for personal growth and to maintain independence within the confines of a relationship. While individuals flourish, the relationship itself benefits. In fact, it’s key to successful marriages.
Whether that means reading alone or taking a walking in the park, do it. Or maybe you want to attend a workout with a friend.
The outcome is your partner’s bothersome habits will trigger you less. You’ll find yourself feeling refreshed and being more patient. Your special partner has time to miss you, too.
Other boons: you’ll bring more to the relationship itself. Stepping away regularly prevents your time together from growing stale. Instead, it allows for curiosity, more interesting conversations, and growth. In effect, taking time apart will enliven the relationship dynamic.
Go to Sleep at the Same Time
Perhaps you’ve already read that most American adults are not getting the seven to eight hours per night of healthy sleep they need. But did you know that going to bed at different times negatively impacts you and your partner?
For a healthier relationship, head to bed at the same time. There are night owls and early birds who live on different schedules, and then there are those who work in bed while the other is watching Netflix in another room. Whatever the situation, synchronize your bedtimes.
According to Chris Brantner, a certified sleep science coach, 75% of couples don’t go to bed together, which has negative effects. Those with mismatched sleep patterns report more conflict, less conversation, and have less sex than those who go to bed together.
This doesn’t give you the go-ahead to dive under the covers and scroll through your social media while you’re both in bed.