Relationships are a profound source of joy, support, and engagement in most people’s lives. Yet, over time, connections may fall prey to the monotony of familiar routines, busy schedules, and fixed mindsets, thus, losing their ability to bolster happiness. The good news is that with a little attention and intention, any relationship can be reinvigorated! Whether you are looking to add zest to a friendship, marriage, or family tie, the following tips will help bring vitality and enthusiasm to the forefront.
Create a Monthly Theme
Themes are a playful way to create energy and intention within relationships. They provide a platform for mutual growth and creative expression. Relational themes break the doldrums of routine and add elements of surprise back into the relationship.
Below are a few thematic ideas along with suggested activities that can be enjoyed with friends, family members, or partners. There are many iterations of both themes and activities so have fun letting your imagination take the lead.
Pampering: Plan a spa day (on the town or at home), enjoy mimosas with a gourmet breakfast, take the day off work and walk the beach with your bestie
Beauty: Splurge on an exquisite bouquet of flowers, make a list of all the beautiful qualities that your partner embodies, redecorate a shared space together
Culture: Visit a museum, attend a wine tasting, take an art history class
Novelty: Eat at a unique restaurant, explore a new part of town, break out some lingerie
Humor: Watch stand-up comedy, attend a funny movie, learn jokes to share with each other
Further themes might include playfulness, spirituality, fitness, gratitude, vision casting, or renewal. Once you have selected a theme and duration, delight in the myriad possibilities of its expression.
Relationships become stagnant when they are entrenched in familiar routines. Learning something new offers the chance to break free from predictable roles, build shared experiences, and deepen connections. Dr. Hisla Bates, M.D., a psychiatrist based in New York City says, “Learning new things together strengthens bonds because it is at those moments we can show our vulnerability to one another. When we are learning a new task, neither party is an expert, and mishaps and failures are bound to happen. In those vulnerable moments when we fail, the other party can show support. They can work together to find a solution, and working together helps deepen the connection.”
The key to bonding through education is to choose activities that excite both parties. The learning adventure should be something that is new for both of you. It doesn’t have to be big. Cooking a new meal together, trying a different type of fitness class, or exploring online dance lessons are all excellent ways to cultivate a bond via learning.
Take Turns Planning Special Dates
From simple coffee house visits and sunrise hikes to home candlelight dinners and weekend getaways, there are abundant ways to bring fresh energy into relationships. Yet, oftentimes, we get stuck doing the same daily tasks and fail to prioritize new adventures that can make life more exciting. The simple solution is to take turns planning weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly dates with your partner. These do not have to be elaborate, though they can certainly lean that direction if you are so inclined.
There are only two rules for planning dates. First, the planner must take care of all the details, leaving nothing to chance. In other words, food, childcare, transportation, and funding must all be secured ahead of time. The planner should also aim for activities that he or she thinks the partner will enjoy. Second, the recipient should go along with a positive attitude. Knowing that a special date is planned just for you or your partner makes you both feel special. It takes the pressure off of one person and allows the other to express creativity and care.
Mutual interests, inquiries, and adventures mean little in the absence of genuine care. Numerous relationships have dried up alongside subdued expressions of kindness. While you may inwardly feel that you love our friend or partner, they only know what is expressed through your actions. Fortunately, it does not take much time or effort to express what is already in your heart.
Three powerful ways to cultivate care are via helpfulness, active listening, and quality time. By offering seemingly small gestures of kindness you can lighten the load that your loved ones carry. From making a simple cup of tea and offering it with a kind word to listening to a friend’s challenges while providing encouragement, each day holds numerous opportunities to brighten and enhance the lives of those closest to you. The compounded effects of multitudinous micro acts of care add up to significant relational gains. As karma would have it, your loved ones will ultimately do the same for you.
Relationships are like flowers. They grow best when planted in the soil of love and showered with the rain of attention and the sunshine of attention. If your relationships are not thriving, ask yourself, which element could be improved. Do you need a clear intention for the relationship (i.e. unconditional love, mutual support, shared passion)? Perhaps you know the intention for your relationship but need to pay more attention to developing that intention. If both the quality of intention and attention are strong then increase the level of caring that you bring to your partner. When all three elements are optimized, your relationships will become the hub of joy around which your life revolves.