When you're single, it's easy to look at friends' marriages and think, "oh, when I'm married I'll treat my spouse better than that!" Or, "If I'm ever lucky enough to have a spouse like that, I'll never take him/her for granted!"

Then you get married, and you do all the things you never thought you would do...

You fall asleep snoring on the couch in front of the TV after dinner instead of sitting up playing Scrabble or laughing and talking and giving each other foot rubs - like you used to do when you were dating. You forget to kiss them hello when you get home from work, instead launching into a litany of complaints about your horrible day. You stop having sex more than once a week (or month).

And if you have kids, it just makes the equation more complicated -  although it doesn't take kids to start taking your spouse for granted.

We all think we will be better at marriage than our parents, or our friends, or our co-workers, but the truth is, marriage is work! We don't really understand this when we're single, but once you have made that commitment, once you have made a home together, commingled all of your stuff, and started
really noticing all of their annoying little habits that you ignored before you were married, it gets way too easy to start taking each other for granted, and to stop doing the special things you did together - or for each other - when you were just dating.
Especially in today's crazy-busy world, when it seems you work all day, run around doing errands all weekend, and at the end of the day, all you want to do is just go to sleep!

But there is a reason you got married to your spouse in the first place. There is a reason why so many of us all over the world choose to marry our lives with someone else's. Human relationships and connections are necessary for our health, our personal growth, and our happiness. And the person you married is still the person you married - even with all those habits that now annoy you so much!

If you're feeling stuck in a rut right now with your significant other, here are 6 ways to shake things up a bit, rebuild your connection, and remind them (and yourself) of how important they really are to you.

1. Surprise Your Partner With a Night Out

Even if you're on a budget, you can still schedule a fun date that will remind you both how much fun you used to have together. Think of something you used to do back when you were just dating. Maybe you had a favorite park where you used to picnic. Or a bike trail where you used to ride together. Revisit one of your old favorite restaurants that you haven't been to in years. Or go dancing. Even just a quiet evening feeding the ducks at a local park or pond can help you both remember the magic you used to find in each others company. It doesn't have to be fancy, as long as it gives you a chance to spend some time together alone, just focusing on each other.

2. Do A Random Act of Kindness for Your Partner

Remember that your spouse is probably just as busy, tired, and stressed out as you are! Do something nice for them on a regular basis - even if it's something small. Get them a gift - something you know they've been wanting but haven't gotten for themselves, fix the door lock they've been meaning to fix for weeks, or make them breakfast in bed. Even little gestures like this can go a long way to helping your spouse feel loved and appreciated.

3. Make It A Point Not to Take Your Partner For Granted

Does your spouse do little random acts of kindness for you, and you don't even notice? When you have a wonderful spouse who does a lot for you, sometimes you can start to expect it, rather than appreciating it. Remind yourself to pay attention to the little things they do for you that you might have stopped noticing. And when you do notice them, express appreciation! In time, not only will this keep you from taking your partner for granted, but it will also help them to feel more connected to you, and it will help you to build a healthy, strong, long-lasting relationship.

4. Try a New Activity Together

We humans are creatures of habit, and we tend to stick to our same old routines. If you haven't done anything new in a while, things can start to seem stale - not just in your relationship, but in life. Shake things up and step out of your rut by doing something new together. If you love being active, try a new sport like tennis, racket ball, or golfing. If you are into literary pursuits, attend an interesting seminar or lecture on a topic you know nothing about. Take dance lessons. Pick a spot on the map where neither of you have ever been, and take a day trip. By getting out of your comfort zone together, you will build a stronger bond and make some wonderful memories as well!

5. Listen to Your Partner

Pay attention when your spouse expresses something to you. Don't just think about the next thing you want to say, or the next task you have on your plate. Whether you agree or disagree, at least take the time to listen, and treat your partner's words and opinions as important. Couples that do this - rather than dismissing each other - have much healthier and happier relationships.

6. Let Go Of Needing to Always Be Right

When you find yourself having the inevitable argument (which we all have from time to time), stop and ask yourself an important question: Would you rather be happy, or would you rather be right? Try stepping outside of your situation for a moment, and look at your disagreement from another perspective. Simply changing the way you look at things can often diffuse an argument, and help you to respond more calmly the next time things start to get heated. Arguing is a natural part of any relationship, but if it starts to happen too often, you may need to take a step back and see if you are prioritizing "rightness" over your relationship. (This is one that I still struggle with all the time.) :-)

Whether you're missing the romance you used to have, or just feeling a little disconnected from your partner, these 6 tips can help you build a stronger, happier, and more passionate relationship.

To your health - and healthy relationship!


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