Has Your Relationship Gone Stale? — How to Stop Taking Each Other for Granted
When you have a good thing going in a relationship, things start humming along. Nothing is being taken for granted. Certain patterns get established, certain behaviors become expected, and certain priorities start to feel less vital and more flexible and postponable…
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. But you needn’t worry. You can fix this before resentment takes hold and drives a wedge between you.
Stale relationships can be refreshed. Let’s look at some key strategies for doing just that:
How to Stop Taking Each Other for Granted
1. Revisit responsibilities: Keep loving service in mind
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 that you are being taken for granted.
Mix up the chores and really share the work. Remind each other that you’re there for each other in all things, toilet bowls and trash day included.
2. Touch and tease: Connect physically all day
Bring back the PDA of your early relationship. Public displays of affection refresh that sense that you belong to each other. 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 everywhere. Kiss more, linger when you say hello and goodbye. Really enjoy being close physically and emotionally.
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 with a few new tricks?
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 couple time.
5. Find 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 preference, 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 2 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.
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!
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.
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 able to be comfortable but you don’t want to feel bored. Let your partner know that your relationship is a top priority by 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, as well as teaching them our preferences.
This exercise will help you develop your ability to be aware of your partner’s efforts. John Gottman, a renown 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.”
1. What did you acknowledge or give your partner credit for?
2. 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 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 the relationships noticed 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 is expressed along with the other positive interactions in the relationship.
Stop Taking Each Other for Granted and Start Doing the Following:
- Say thank you often.
- Find ways to be generous and helpful.
- Celebrate each other privately and publicly.
- Cheer your partner on and champion the things that matter to them.
- Be proud to be seen together and brag about each other to others
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
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