Even the happiest couples experience downturns in their relationships. Whether it’s outside factors like work stress or internal issues like communication, there are strategies that you can use to work through these rough patches. We’ve asked experts for tips on how to work through a relationship rut and get romance back.
Identify your current, most important need
Figuring out what you need in a relationship is a powerful and efficient way to get you out of a rut, says psychologist Dr. Krystal White, author of the upcoming relationship book The Letter Code. “We aren’t machines and don’t have operating instructions or easily recognizable signals that our emotional needs require attention,” she explains. “Our needs are often hidden from plain sight and we don’t like spending a lot of time reflecting on them.” Dr. White says naming the needs helps create the emotional heat needed to motivate us to maintain the course.
Set short-term goals
Begin your journey back to romance by identifying the top three short-term goals you have for your love life. “Take special care to translate these goals into positive terms,” says Dr. White. “This inspires and motivates more positive energy around the process.” Some examples could be to be more understanding, more nurturing or being more passionate.
Point out when you observe any progress
Paying attention to what is going right is going to help you feel inspired and motivated to sustain your efforts. ”It’s important to note that you’re more likely to get out of a rut if you know that you’re making progress,” says Dr. White. “So, make it easy and label behaviors that you can observe that signal ‘rut progress’ to you. She says people often give up trying to get out of a rut because they don’t give themselves or each other positive feedback or that feedback goes unnoticed. “To avoid backsliding, slowdown and find deliberate ways to acknowledge what is going right,” continues Dr. White
Make intimacy a priority
Tina B. Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist and author of How to Be Happy Partners: Working It Out Together says sex needs to continue to be a priority, even in long-term relationships. “Sex not only will keep your love energized, it’s also fun exercise, a great stress-releaser, and aerobic: it raises your heart rate and your respiration — and you don’t even notice you’re working hard,” she explains.
Date your partnerSpending time together and enjoying your significant other’s company builds a stronger bond. According to an article in Psychology Today, the cost of the date isn’t important, “it’s about being ng together and prioritizing the other person over your obligations to work and other family members.” Consider a movie, neighborhood dinner, or if you have young children at home, after they are in bed, have a romantic dinner for two by candlelight in your own dining room.