Falling in love is easy, but staying in love is a different matter. After the first few blissful weeks with your new partner, the initial spark can seem to fade. Real life kicks in, romance begins to feel like hard work, and disagreements surface. But don’t give up on long-term love. By developing a few simple habits, you can help your relationship grow deeper, stronger and become even more fulfilling than it was in those early days.
1. Keep trying new things
Remember those first few dates when you and your lover met at different spots, tried new things and met new people? He’d ask you to dinner; you’d show him your favorite coffee spot; he’d take you to a game; you’d invite him to a party.
It’s easy to lose this momentum when dealing with the demands of daily life. While a night home in your PJs, chain watching reruns of How I Met Your Mother is fine occasionally, don’t let it become all you do together.
If you have a shared lunch break, check out the new restaurant in town. If you have a week of vacation, rekindle your mutual love for sightseeing or try skiing for the first time. Doing something different doesn’t have to break the bank, either; test new recipes on each other, join a local club or invite new friends to dinner. Mixing up your together-time will keep you on the path of discovering yourselves and each other, warding off the dreaded relationship rut.
2. Nip problems in the bud
In the early days, you were too busy getting lost in his gaze to notice his habit of talking over you. She was too stunningly beautiful for you to pick up on her bedtime TV binges. Now that you spend much of your waking – and sleeping – life together, these minor quirks can become major bugs.
In an effort to keep the romance of your early relationship, it’s easy to put off talking about the things that bother you. Sensitive honesty, however, is the backbone of a sustainable relationship.
Avoid letting issues stew; if you need something in the relationship to change, pick a good time to raise your concern and talk openly and kindly with your partner. Resist going on the attack with phrases like “you always” and “you never,” and stay focused on the issue at hand. Finding a solution that works for both of you will prevent problems mounting up, and leave you free to love – not loathe – each other.
3. Don’t try to change your partner
You fell in love with your partner for who they are. But as time goes on, it’s easy to start trying to change things about your other half’s character or behavior. While it’s OK – even healthy – to call attention to problems you see in the relationship (see No. 2), be careful not to pick away at your partner as a person.
Does he like to act the clown at social gatherings? Is she the eternal optimist? Whatever it is that makes them them, remind yourself to appreciate those defining traits. By accepting and cherishing each other just as you are, you’ll empower each other to be the best version of yourselves.
4. Always dream together
Sometime in the first few months of dating, you probably had a conversation about life goals: whether each of you wanted kids (or more kids), where you wanted to live, how you saw your careers developing.
For most people, at least some of these ideas change over time. As you move into a long-term relationship, it’s important to check in with your partner frequently about where you both are and where you’re headed. Dream about what life will look like in a year, in five years, in 10 years, and even in your old age.
This isn’t about setting plans in stone. It’s about considering your options and feeling inspired to build a happy life together. When you’re working long hours, sleep-deprived by the newborn, tired of your job or frustrated with your home, your dreams will pull you both through. written by Charlotte Victoria