Feeling more like roommates than romantic partners? Whether you’ve been together for one year, a decade or longer, marriages, just like cars, can use a tune up every once in a while. If you’re feeling out of sync with your partner, try these seven tips to recharge your relationship this weekend.
Put time together on your to-do list Set aside an agreed amount of time—a full day or the entire weekend—to spend together distraction-free. Send the kid over to grandma and grandpa’s and make a rule that electronic distractions such as Blackberries and cell phones are off-limits so you can truly focus on each other.
Get physical It doesn’t necessarily have to be sexual touching. “Hold your partner and cuddle. And that might mean even saying—I don’t want this to lead to sex, but I want to be physically close to you,” says Lorrie Brubacher, a Winnipeg-based couples therapist. Hold hands when you walk the dog together or stay in touch while watching Mad Men by giving each other back rubs or foot massages.
Book a weekend getaway Being out of your home will do you good because it’s a different setting and you’re doing different things, says Dorothy Ratusny, a Toronto-based psychotherapist. “You’re completely out of your environment so you’re relying on each other for communications and companionship and you’re exploring and having new experiences.”
Switch roles Are you usually the talker? Or always the listener? Focus on doing what you don’t normally do. “So if the challenge for you is to listen, then you want to be the one who says I’ll listen to you, what do you need from me? If the challenge is to talk, your risk might be to try to find the courage to share something,” says Brubacher.
Share memories and future dreams Get out a photo album of your early years together and talk about what was great back then. “And then share your hopes and dreams for the next five, 10 and 25 years. But act as if money and responsibilities don’t matter and instead elaborate on the details without criticizing each other,” says Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem, a couples therapist in Burlington, Ont. This lets you bond together over the past and move together toward the future.
Go to church or temple A 2010 University of Virginia study of 1,387 adults revealed that couples who pray and attend religious events and gatherings together are closer than couples who don’t.
Navel gaze If you’re wondering what’s going wrong in certain areas of the relationship and why you’re always fighting over specific issues, look at yourself. “You probably think the problem is always the other person—such as he never talks to me, or she’s always on my case,” says Brubacher. “But take a step back and ask yourself, what is it that I’m doing just before my partner does that?” This might give you a fresh perspective on what’s going on in your relationship.