The phrase “All you need is love” may be stretching it a bit, but it’s easy for us to think this is the most important thing for us to feel happy. With all the stressors the pandemic brings, it can feel hard to keep your love alive.
The truth is that love is very important to our psychological well being. We have evolved over millennia to be part of a nurturing social group where we are loved and cared for. Romantic relationships step this up a notch by feeding our basic needs for intimacy and much closer loving bonds.
For those of us who are in romantic relationships, life does seem brighter and fuller, but that feeling can dissipate over time, especially when faced with the current pandemic situation.
But keeping your romance alive isn’t hard if you work on it. It simply needs small things done regularly for the love to flourish, just like putting pennies in a piggy bank.
Here are some ideas for you to put into practice.
1. Listen – like really listen
Nothing quite tells your partner how much you care for them than by giving them your undivided attention and truly listening to them. This means not glancing at your phone or at the oven to see how long until dinner is ready. Pause whatever you’re doing and show them that you are really listening. While they are talking, make eye contact and ask them questions rather than put your own opinion or point of view across. This kind of listening where you really hear them is extremely important to feeling loved.
2. Be attentive
Always be on the lookout for how you can help your partner, especially when they least expect it. Imagine a scenario where you know your partner is walking home from work and you notice spots of rain falling. Here’s an opportunity to meet your partner with an umbrella and walk home with her or him. Attentive actions like this really help your partner feel that you’re always thinking of them.
3. Tell them you’re thinking of them.
While it’s nice to make big romantic gestures like getting flowers delivered, it’s really the small gestures that can have the biggest impact. The simplest of these is simply to message your partner and give them a loving message. You can tell them that you’re thinking of them, or ask how their day is going, or simply say “I love you”. Simple, easy and free!
If you need, perhaps even set a reminder on your phone to message your loved one. Scheduling a message may not sound romantic, but it’s important to prioritise this.
4. Spend time just talking
Try spending a good chunk of time each day, just talking without any other distractions. Turn the TV off, put away your phone and just talk. Ask how their day was, ask how they are feeling and what their biggest worries are. You don’t need to have answers to every problem; just listening, sharing and being heard is what’s important. You can also ask about their dreams for the future and talk about how you can make them come true. This gives an added value of working on things together and having things to look forward to.
Perhaps you’ve gotten into the habit of TV dinners recently? A great way to ensure conversation is to lay the table, light a candle, and have a sit-down meal together most nights. This carves out time in the day for conversation, and the likelihood is you’ll end up sat there after you’ve finished just chatting.
5. Random acts of surprise
Try injecting tiny doses of excitement into your relationship by doing small random acts of surprise. No, we don’t mean slapping his butt when he bends over to tie his shoelaces! What we do mean is things like leaving a small love note in his lunch box, leaving a chocolate on her pillow, or even preparing a nice home-cooked meal as a surprise. These random acts can foster a sense of excitement in your relationship. If you’re on the receiving end don’t forget to show how much you appreciate the thought and how much you’re looking forward to the next surprise.
6. Show appreciation
Gratitude is something that feels really good to give and to get. We all need to feel appreciated for what we do. So showing your gratitude for everything your partner does for you is really important. Just saying “Hey, thanks for doing my washing” can do heaps for your relationship as you are honouring and respecting your partner for what he or she does for you. And by doing this consciously and often, you maintain a higher level of appreciation for the relationship you have and avoid taking things for granted.
7. Give compliments
It’s a basic human need to be complimented. Receiving compliments activates the reward areas in the brain and this makes us feel good. So, whenever you get the chance, take the time to compliment your partner. “Your hair looks nice”, “Nice outfit”, “That meal was super tasty”, “I love your cute smile”, “That was really funny”, there’s no end of compliments you can give. Compliment all the positive things they do as well as qualities of theirs that you like.
8. Have fun
Who says adults shouldn’t play and have fun? Playful and fun interactions have all kinds of psychological benefits for our mental wellbeing and relationships. So, take your serious suit off and focus on having fun in your relationship. This can mean simply being silly and joking around while cooking dinner, or playing fun two-player games. Finding joy and laughter in the mundanity of everyday life (especially in lockdown) can really help to keep your love alive!
9. Hug and touch
Touch has real healing power and hugs make you feel more loved and less alone. Every time we hug or touch our partners in a non-sexual way, we give each other a real sense of being loved and connected. Not only that, hugs provide a range of other scientifically-proven benefits including reducing stress and improving heart health. According to the best science, we need to have as many hugs as possible if we want the greatest positive effects. So do hugs, hugs and more hugs, at every opportunity!
10. Take good care of yourself
This may sound counterintuitive, but one of the biggest stressors on any relationship is when we let our own wellbeing slide. If we are feeling stressed, fatigued or run-down, it’s really hard to have the energy to put into our relationship. So, caring for yourself is always very important if you want your relationship to flourish. Make sure you’re sleeping well, eating well and working on your mental fitness.
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, now is a great time to start making these changes and working to keep the love in your relationship alive.
A little teaser…
Did you know that Akimbo is launching a Premium version of our app soon? The launch of Premium will introduce Zone workouts, and one of the areas of focus is relationships. If you would like the relationships in your life to thrive, then sign up to our mailing list to be the first to know when this is available!