You’ve heard the advice a million times: Have a regular date night. Spend quality time. Don’t let your relationship fall to the bottom of your to-do list.
And it’s true. Without making time to connect, we end up living like roommates, or business partners, rather than lovers.
But for many of us, time is in short supply. Our days are so packed that by the time the dishes are done or the kids are (finally) in bed, or we’ve answered that one last pressing email, or made that one last call, all we want to do is veg out on the couch.
Here’s the good news: You don’t need four course candle lit dinners or long weekends away to rekindle the sweet, loving parts of being a couple:
1. When time is short, the last thing you need is to be multitasking when you’ve finally got time together. Never mind Facebook while you’re watching a movie. Turn off your phone during dinner and when you’re out running errands together, and, most important of all, when you’ve climbed into bed.
2. Too tired to talk? Put your hand on his arm. Take hold of her hand. And not just for a second.
3. Back when we had young kids, I initiated something called the “five minute date.” The theory behind this was to get the good stuff we got from a night out together— no talk about work, or logistics, or the leak in the sink—without hiring a babysitter or leaving the house. No couple is too frazzled to sit for a few minutes on the back steps together with a cup of tea or a shared piece of pie, watching for shooting stars or just saying hi.
4. Yes, mornings are busy, but we all need to shower. Why not surprise your spouse and make it a shower for two?
5. Story time isn’t only for kids. Rather than reading in bed side-by-side—one of my favorite pastimes—pick something you both like, and read to each other. Or, for a change, download a book from Audible and let someone else do the reading. Don’t be surprised if you drift off to sleep.
6. Remember that song you picked for your first dance? Put it on after dinner and ask, “May I have this dance?” Set it on repeat. The dishes can wait.
7. Instead of that air kiss you give on the way out the door, kiss your sweetie goodbye the way you did when you were dating. Even more challenging, stick with it for ten seconds. One caveat: You might not want to leave.
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This post first appeared on Tips on Life and Love, from Simon & Schuster