December 6, 2021
Relationship Issues? Stop Taking Your Partner for Granted
Written by Clara Jennison
In our experience, a lot of relationship issues are caused by partners taking each other for granted.
No way! That couldn’t be you, right?
But it might be.
When you have a good thing going, you might get into a routine and develop patterns. Those certain behaviors become expected and then a few priorities become less vital, more flexible, and even postponable.
At first, nothing is being taken for granted, but over time it becomes a smell that you get so used to that you don’t even smell it. And well, before you know it, you and your partner realize that the time you used to take for each other has given way to taking each other for granted, which is a very common relationship issue.
Life takes over and we stop being mindful of these things. But you needn’t worry.
You can fix this before resentment takes hold and drives a wedge between you. Stale relationships can be refreshed.
We are going to take a closer look at what is happening, introduce some strategies for “refreshing”, and give you some tips we hand to clients every session.
Table of Contents
- Is my relationship over?
- Your Relationship Issue
- How to Refresh Your Relationship
- 15 Ways
- Daily Habits That Will Stop (Most) Relationship Issues
- Get Your Relationship Back On Track
- Resources for Couples
- Recommended Reading
Is My Relationship Over?
There are a lot of feelings around this topic and we get it. You have a lot invested in your relationship and when things get to this foreign, stale place, you might look around and question if this is what you really want.
Unless there are outstanding circumstances, this relationship is what you want. Your partner means more to you than anything in the world and you’d like this “stale patch” to just be a phase.
Well, good news.
Stale does not mean over.
If you and your partner recognize that this is something that can be fixed, your partnership very likely will be revitalized and full of emotion once again.
The only time that a series of relationship issues ends things is when one or both partners fail to see that there is hope and things can be turned around. One or both people are “leaning out” as we like to call it.
That isn’t the case for you. Staleness can be scary because you worry that you’ll resent your partner and that things “can never be good again”, but they can!
Think about it this way. Money is just paper until someone believes it has value and the same goes for time.
When multiple people believe that same idea, you get an economy and times zones. Your relationship has to be believed to have value on both sides and once that happens, anything is possible.
So, no, you aren’t doomed.
Your Relationship Issue
In fact, this can turn out to be a good thing. Everything requires freshening up and maintenance. Relationships, cars, hair ─ they all need TLC from time to time.
When you get into a groove with your partner because you feel secure and safe, it’s not the worst thing in the world. You have someone that you can be yourself with, who loves you for you, and is there with you through the intense and the mundane.
How wonderful is that? The biggest concern with relationship issues like this is where it could lead.
Stale can become stagnant which can be become dead. Taking your partner for granted is a common relationship issue, but it’s a fixable one.
Let’s talk about it.
Relationship Issues: How to Stop Taking Each Other for Granted
Every relationship is different. The connection you have with your partner or spouse is individual to the two of you and what the includes, excludes, and requires is going to vary greatly from couple to couple.
So, how do we fix this relationship issue and STOP taking our partner for granted?
1. Revisit responsibilities: Keep loving service in mind
You might start by looking at what “thing” belongs to who.
When things interrupt everyday responsibilities at home or in the family, you might need to look at the situation. Do you rely too heavily on the expectations you have of each other?
One of you may feel overworked and like a servant more than a spouse. Mix up the chores and really share the work, equally.
Remind each other that you’re there for each other in all things, toilet bowls and trash day included. One trick might be that when you see your partner cleaning something you ask if you can help (to end it quicker) or you might start doing another task that needs doing.
It will make your partner feel helped and seen in their efforts and who doesn’t like a cleaner house?
2. Touch and tease: Connect physically all-day
Bring back the PDA of your early relationship, hardcore. Public displays of affection refresh that sense that you belong to each other and that this is your person.
Reinforce your connection all day long. Affection also signals to others that you’re together and sets clear, protective boundaries around your union.
Touch each other, as you pass in a room. Hold hands, when you walk side by side.
Kiss and hug more, linger when you say hello and goodbye. Really enjoy being close physically and emotionally.
Physical embraces release happy, love hormones in your brain and can be really soothing in a stressful moment. Learn to turn towards each other.
3. Revive intimacy: Bring back regular affection, fun, and a few fantasies
Refuse to waste perfectly good nights, romantic weekends, and vacations not having a wonderfully intimate time. Why not make love? Why not add a few new tricks?
Don’t be afraid to spoil your partner. You have an intimate relationship, take advantage of it for both parties.
4. Review your loyalties: Make sure you put each other first and everybody knows it
To keep your relationship strong, let the other people in your lives know that your relationship has your loyalty. No one should feel taken for granted or second on the priority list.
Your partner’s needs should return to the top spot on your to-do list. Run errands, return work emails, and put your kids to bed early enough to leave time for you to spend time together every evening.
Make your obligations wait when it’s “us” time.
5. Find the time and pay attention: Go on dates, create adventure, stay curious
The happiest couples are curious couples. Keep making plans with each other.
To do this best, check-in with each other. Ask questions and make mental notes.
Notice which preferences, dreams, and desires have changed and which preserve some dedicated time. Get out alone for at least 2 hours doing something together at least once every two weeks.
This doesn’t mean inviting other couples along. Date night is for the 2 of you to connect with each other.
Do the things you enjoy together. Sign up for a few fresh experiences. Make memories.
Most of all, silence your phone and really share your feelings. Undivided attention is the first thing to go on the path to taking each other for granted.
Too often, it’s too easy to assume we know all about each other and forget to stay curious and connect on a deeper level.
6. Pay attention to your partner’s preferences.
Know the little things your partner likes and take time on a regular basis to do them. It can be a quick phone call, email, or text to check in and say hi, his/her favorite meal, or a back rub.
Do you know they like their tea or coffee? Make one or pick one up for them.
Even simpler, it’s knowing the little things that make your partner feel loved and doing them regularly, which can be as simple as pulling your chair out for dinner. If you’re unsure, ask!
We recommend that you both get into the habit of doing (at least) one loving, kind deed a day for your partner.
Set aside time daily when you can talk about the day, family, friends, work, each other. When one of you talks, the other simply listens and acknowledges.
No advice giving! Make sure both of you have the opportunity to talk and be heard. This doesn’t have to be lengthy, 10 minutes per person is sufficient for relationship health.
8. Say I’m sorry.
When you experience conflict, apologize. Ideally, both parties can take responsibility for part of the problem. Ask, “what can I do to help resolve this?”
Remember you are a team. As a team, you check in with each other when making plans, back each other up when parenting, and make big decisions together. No one wants to feel taken for granted or isolated from big decisions.
9. Take a relationship vacation: Fuel fondness with time away
You may find a little distance makes a difference in the way you perceive each other. Maybe you have been taking each other for granted.
When the person you love isn’t always in your peripheral vision or traveling through your world in a predictable way, it forces you to notice the role they play in your life.
You may find that you miss that morning coffee she pours in the morning. You may realize you really cherish that snoring on the other side of the bed. When you reunite, you’ll see each other with fresh eyes and a surge of fondness.
11. Greet Each Other Every Day
This simplest of rituals can make a big difference in how connected you and your partner feel to each other. If you barely nod hello when your partner gets home or he just grunts when you arrive home, it’s a sure sign that you’re taking each other for granted.
It doesn’t necessarily mean things are bad, just that you’ve become apathetic. Being intentional in your greetings when you reunite for the day is a great way to stay connected.
12. Be More Attentive
Even if your relationship is relatively stable and drama-free, everyone wants to feel more loved and valued. If your relationship has grown a bit stale, chances are good that you’re probably not giving your partner your full attention.
Even if you have to keep your phone at hand for evening work, set aside a regular period of one-on-one time with your partner at least once a day if possible. Nobody wants to feel like they are being taken for granted, but sadly that is the message many of us are unintentionally sending when cell phones take priority.
Even if you’re so busy that you don’t have much free time, your partner still deserves some of your undivided attention.
It makes seem like a silly relationship issue, but there is a lot that commands your full attention every day. So, you might have to make an effort to be a more mindful listener and partner.
13. Look on the Positive Side
There’s actually a good side to taking your relationship for granted, as long as you’re still making an effort to be kind and attentive to your partner. Taking your relationship for granted can be a positive sign of comfort and trust in the relationship itself.
The goal should be to find a healthy balance: you want to be comfortable, but you don’t want to feel bored. Let your partner know that your relationship is a top priority through your actions, and soon you’ll be back on track.
14. At least once (or more) per day, make a note of something your partner does that helps your relationship.
Letting others know when we like what they do is a way of acknowledging behavior and teaching them our preferences.
This exercise will help you develop your awareness of your partner’s efforts. John Gottman, a renowned researcher on what makes relationships work, states that fondness and admiration for your partner is a key skill for a healthy relationship.
For example, “I really appreciate you cleaning up the dishes tonight,” or “Thank you for texting me this morning to wish me a good day at work,” or “I like it when you consider what I would like to do over the weekend and make plans with me.”
- What did you acknowledge or give your partner credit for?
- How did your partner respond?
15. Appreciate, reciprocate, celebrate: Share gratitude and show how much you value each other often
Your relationship can get stale when you forget that your relationship is mutual. Balance matters. Both of you need to feel valued and part of a lasting, loving union.
Regardless of how stable your connection feels or seems, no one wants to be taken for granted. Of course, you know it’s good to be grateful.
But, you may not realize what a gift it is for others to know how grateful you are for them. One word or action that communicates how much a loved one means to you is powerful.
To show grateful appreciation is to say “I accept what you have to offer. You belong with me and I want you to know how much I value you.”
This goes a long way in preventing one partner from feeling they are being taken for granted or unappreciated.
Being grateful for life and people naturally promotes a positive emotional connection. You create a link between their world and yours that communicates love for much longer than the exchange of material goods ever could.
Recent studies show that people who demonstrate gratitude and appreciation in relationships notice an increase in responsiveness and overall relationship satisfaction. This feeling tended to last much longer than any material gift.
The data showed a positive impact for up to nine months!
In fact, well-known relationship expert Dr. John Gottman agrees. He notes in his research that it’s easy to predict which marriages will succeed or fail by how much appreciation and gratitude are expressed along with the other positive interactions in the relationship.
Daily Habits That Will Stop (Most) Relationship Issues
Unless your relationship issues are a bit more severe than
It’s easy to let the grind of everyday life get to you and allow you to be drawn into silly arguments with your partner and trivial squabbles about unimportant things. It seems so much harder to put forth the effort to make them feel loved.
The irony is that even the smallest token of love can make your partner feel great all day.
Even more, making a habit of showing appreciation for them can continuously help strengthen your relationship. It’s like a daily dose of relationship therapy.
So, why not look for opportunities to thank your partner for who they are and for being with you? Don’t they deserve it?
Here are some fun little things you can do for your partner – just because.
1. Say “I love you” and tell them why.
Do it in word and deed. Tell your partner that they’re beautiful and why you love them. Flirt with each other. Leave loving notes for them to discover in surprising places, write them a love letter, or perhaps a poem.
2. Devote attention, often.
Put technology to the side for a while – turn off the phone, the TV, and the computer. Ask your partner about their day and really listen to all the details.
Read a book together or read it to them—something sweet and intimate, like a beautiful novel you love. Learn more about how to improve communication and listening skills here.
3. Spend quality time together.
Get up when your partner gets up, even if it’s early. Enjoy breakfast together before you start your workday.
Sit outside at night and look at the stars together, with your favorite music playing softly in the background. When you watch TV or a movie together, let your partner pick what they want.
It may not be something you like but watch it anyway just because you love them.
4. Touch each other often.
Share a long, warm hug—a passionate kiss. Make time to cuddle, play with their hair and caress their skin. Or simply hold hands in public.
5. Get intimate and give your partner pleasure.
Schedule a passionate make-out session. Take a shower or bubble bath together, maybe even with candles and champagne.
Or surprise your partner by coming to bed in your birthday suit. For more on how to improve your relationship by building intimacy, click here.
6. Let them relax. Give them a break where you can.
Let your partner sleep in on the weekend, just because they usually don’t get to do that. Serve them breakfast in bed. Take care of the children for an hour or so, and just let your mate relax.
7. Do a personal favor
8. Give a special treat
Let them have the bigger helping of the cake. Take them somewhere they love.
Or simply buy your partner their favorite candy bar or something else they love and use a lot from the neighborhood store.
9. Cook for them
Make your partner’s favorite lunch to take to work. Cook a special meal and have a candlelight dinner.
You may have to learn to cook if you don’t know how, or you could simply learn how to prepare their morning coffee just the way they like it.
10. Be spontaneous
Dance anywhere (in your own kitchen or in the rain). Take your partner out for lunch during a workday, or pack a picnic and go to the park.
Or get silly and make them laugh by getting into a tickle fight or drawing goofy faces on the eggs in the refrigerator.
Take the time every day to do a little something just because you love to see that special smile on your partner’s face.
Whether you choose one of the things on this list or have your own special ways to bring out that smile, keep doing it and watch your relationship blossom!
All in all, remember that your healthy relationship is too important to put on hiatus. If you haven’t protected your relationship from the drift that comes with taking each other for granted, commit to change.
Make the most of your moments. Refresh and renew the way you think about each other and communicate your desire to make the most of your relationship intentionally.
Get Your Relationship Back on Track
Every long-term relationship has the potential to get a little stale after a while. We might think that this happens because we know the other person so well that there aren’t many surprises anymore.
But the truth is that things get stale when you take your relationship for granted.
Unfortunately, continuing down this path with these relationship issues and taking your partner for granted has the potential to lead to its demise. There is no need for that to happen.
To read more about marriage counseling, click here.
If you feel your relationship could benefit from counseling, click here to schedule an appointment online, or give us a call at 832-559-2622 today.
The Marriage Refresher Course Workbook for Couples provides an opportunity for you and your spouse to benefit from learning the basics of strong, connected marriages, no matter how long you’ve been married. If marriage disconnection is an issue for you, this can be a helpful tool to get you back on track together. This can be a great resource to bring in with you to couples therapy. Click here to view more details.
The Premarital Counseling Workbook for Couples is designed to help you embark on marriage with a strong relationship skill set. We encourage you to strengthen your relationship foundation BEFORE you tie the knot – to pack your toolbox for the inherent ups and downs of life. This can provide insight for discussion in premarital counseling. Click here to view more details.
What emerged from the Gottmans’ collaboration and decades of research is a body of advice that’s based on two surprisingly simple truths: Happily married couples behave like good friends, and they handle their conflicts in gentle, positive ways. The authors offer an intimate look at ten couples who have learned to work through potentially destructive problems—extramarital affairs, workaholism, parenthood adjustments, serious illnesses, lack of intimacy—and examine what they’ve done to improve communication and get their marriages back on track.
John Gottman has revolutionized the study of marriage by using rigorous scientific procedures to observe the habits of married couples in unprecedented detail over many years. Here is the culmination of his life’s work: the seven principles that guide couples on the path toward a harmonious and long-lasting relationship.
A groundbreaking, practical program for transforming troubled relationships into positive ones.
Psychologist John Gottman has spent 20 years studying what makes a marriage last. Now you can use his tested methods to evaluate, strengthen, and maintain your own long-term relationship. This breakthrough book guides you through a series of self-tests designed to help you determine what kind of marriage you have, where your strengths and weaknesses are, and what specific actions you can take to help your marriage.
Heralded by the New York Times and Time magazine as the couple therapy with the highest rate of success, Emotionally Focused Therapy works because it views the love relationship as an attachment bond. This idea, once controversial, is now supported by science and has become widely popular among therapists around the world.
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