I think everyone can agree that a long-term relationship falls into a pattern after that initial getting-to-know-you excitement stage. And while that can be comforting, predictable and secure, it can also be boring for the same reasons. As each person is going through the regular course of their daily lives, it can be easy to take your relationship—and your partner—for granted.
To solve this, I think it’s not just about going out of your way and doing nice things for your honey, but also appreciating the little things that they do for you. They may not even realize that the small gestures that may have become regular at this point, mean something to you. Did he clean the kitchen without being asked? Did she remember to get tickets to the concert you’ve been talking about? Did he e-mail an article to you that he thought you’d find interesting? These are all the things that keep a relationship going, and make things fun and interesting.
While these gestures are sometimes just a matter of course that you need to remember to appreciate, there’s nothing wrong with asking for what you need. I recently had what was one of the most stressful weeks of my life—my printer burned up the special paper for my wedding invitations because he didn’t do a proof, my dog got bit at the dog park, and the hard drive on my 11-month-old MacBook crashed two days before a major deadline, forcing me to spend five fruitless hours in the Apple store.
It was stressful, to say the least, and I knew I needed something. “You have to do something nice for me,” I said to Andy, as I fell onto the couch, my entire body aching from the stress. I don’t know what I expected—maybe for him to grill up some of my favorite tequila shrimp or to take me to see some sappy chick flick he wouldn’t have normally tolerated. But he really stepped up on this one, planning a surprise that turned out to be something I’d always wanted to do. We took a hot air balloon ride at a balloon festival, and as we launched with about 80 other balloons, it was one of coolest experiences I’ve ever had. It was completely above and beyond.
I think we’ve each made an effort to appreciate each other more, and I’ve been trying to keep up the little things, anticipating his needs as well as he does mine and picking up on clues the other person inadvertently or purposefully drops. I have friends who plan date nights once a month, which seems to really work for them. They alternate months, and one person plans a really special date. They’ve been together over five years, and this is what works for them to keep them appreciating what they have, the thoughtfulness of their partner and the comfort, security and sometimes not-so-predictability of their partner.