You’ve certainly heard the expression “he let himself go after the wedding.” What does that mean? Well, once the guy got married, he stopped taking good care of himself. He no longer ate right or exercised, no longer paid attention to his clothes and his personal grooming. Probably he gained weight and started wearing more comfortable, unflattering clothes.
Just as this can happen on a personal level, it can also happen to a couple, and it can happen even before they are married. Once two people go through the stressful, anxious-but-exciting period of courtship and commit to each other on some level, it is tempting to relax a bit and let things coast.
But that’s often just when trouble sets in.
Couples let their relationship coast and one or both of them get a bit bored. They don’t realize that an ongoing relationship, one leading towards marriage, or one where they are already married, requires regular attention, care and energy.
Here are five ways to keep your relationship fresh and exciting even after you settle into a more serious situation. I could’ve said “five easy ways,” but I don’t want to make it seem too easy, since keeping romance alive requires effort and attention. Some of these five suggestions are simple and quick, while others take more planning.
1. A Quick Getaway
Even a small change of scene can work wonders. Take a day trip to a nearby town or outdoor park that feels different from where you live. A short drive of even forty-five minutes can be enough to transport you to a different environment.
Spending the day together in a new and different place is a great way to energize your relationship. Make a list of interesting places within an hour or two’s drive of your home and try to get to all of them. If there are places you particularly enjoy, visit them regularly.
2. Restaurant Circuit
Using an online rating service like Yelp, or the telephone book if you’re old fashioned, make a list of all the restaurants in your city or neighbourhood. If you’re vegetarian or have certain dietary restrictions, choose restaurants that can accommodate you. Then get your calendar out and work together to plan meals at each and every one of these eateries.
Dine out together once a week or so until you’ve visited them all. Depending on how many there are, this could take a long time. If you’ve got a limited budget, you may want to choose restaurants that aren’t too expensive, or work together to save money for each restaurant. You don’t need to be in a hurry. What’s more important is to work together to plan fun activities.
Don’t worry if you don’t enjoy every single restaurant. It would be unusual to have a fantastic meal at every place you dined together. Even a terrible meal, or a night at a restaurant with poor service, where the waiters mix up your entrees or there’s a fly in your soup can be an adventure you share together.
For years afterwards, you’ll be able to say, “Remember that awful restaurant where there was a fly in my soup?” and share a good laugh. Your memories together don’t always have to be perfect to build romance, so long as you keep a sense of humour.
3. Take a Walk.
This one is a no-brainer. Get out and do something together every day. An early morning walk to start your day or an evening walk to prepare for bed are both great ways to connect with each other and keep current on what’s happening in your lives.
Walking is also good exercise, and doing it together every day is a great way to keep fit and prevent the physical “letting yourself go” discussed above.
During your walks, talk about what you plan to do that day, or how your day has gone. This keeps both of you up to date on the other partner’s life, which is the foundation of true intimacy.
4. Plan for Your Dream Holiday (Then Take It)
On a larger scale, you two should always be planning for your next dream getaway. Sit down together and brainstorm. Put all your ideas, no matter how difficult or expensive, on the table. Remember that before any dream can come true, you must first have a dream. So if two weeks together in Italy is your dream, then put it out there. Start saving money, even if it will take years to save enough. Again, what is more important, even, than going to Italy is working together to fulfil your dream. This will show both of you that your relationship is important and that you’re both willing to sacrifice time and money to keep it going.
5. Use Your Minds Together
This is another type of “getaway” that can be either large or small, depending on how you choose to view it. One excellent way to keep your minds fresh and to stave off boredom and the soporific effects of constant routine is to use your minds, and to use them together.
This means taking a class of some sort that you both will enjoy. One of the most popular types of class for couples is a cooking class. Most major cities have some sort of cooking or culinary school, and these days many high end restaurants have periodic courses for the public where chefs teach you how to make some of their best dishes.
A great benefit of a cooking class is that you get to have fun together while learning, and then you get to go home and enjoy making the food for each other for years.
You can scale this up by taking a cooking class in a faraway place – perhaps a big city or even in a foreign country.
It doesn’t have to be cooking, though. Perhaps you’d enjoy an art class together, either making art or learning to appreciate it, or both. Then you can visit museums together, or take a trip abroad to see famous artworks or explore world-renowned museums.
The most important ingredient of all of these “getaways” is the work you do together to make them happen. These are not surprises you plan secretly and then spring on your partner, although surprise gifts can be an important part of romance.
Instead, these are projects, big and small, that you do together, sitting down and rolling up your sleeves. The effort you make will pay many dividends in your relationship.