It's like Sex and the Suburbs and 30 Rock all rolled into one…
A few days ago, one of my friends lamented that she and her boyfriend did the same thing every night, went to the same places and did the same things. A part of me envied her structured routine as I’m someone who, despite not making life plans, likes structure to her life, likes a good schedule. I think, however, that it went a bit further than that – she felt as if her presence was being taken advantage of. It was assumed she would cook dinner, then they’d go out to the same place to meet their coupled friends and at home once more there’d be some sexy time. Every relationship I’ve been in has developed its own routines; we as a species develop habits and tendancies so there’s no denying it.
But what I find works is, as relationship therapists would say, making things seem new. But it goes a good deal further – its making your partner feel appreciated. If she’s having a bad day, surprise her with a bottle of wine in the fridge when she comes home. If you have to cancel lunch plans due to work, then take her out to dinner that night. If he’s having a tough day at work, and you’ve got the means, bring him lunch. When marketing for dinner, grab him his favorite sweet. When you mess up, admit it and make ammends.
A good friend of mine had a situation in which she and her partner overslept, completely ignoring his alarm clock because he accidently turned it off, on a day in which she had to go to work early. Luckily she only over slept by about 30 minutes, and wasn’t late to work. While she frantically got ready for her day, he went to make her coffee and something portable for breakfast as a peace offering. It was his way of saying that he was sorry and wanted to make up for his mistake. When she told her friends, they sighed wistfully, wishing that they could go back to that new him with their partners.
It’s really just about thoughtfulness. And just because you’ve been with someone for months or days doesn’t mean you stop being thoughtful, stop trying to woo him or her. Relationships need that sense of excitement, even after years. My mother consistently surprises my father with day trips to NYC to eat at some of his favorite steakhouses and my father will do little, but thoughtful things for my mother, like calling to have her car serviced before she even realizes it needs to be done or driving her to Albany on a moments notice to visit me and my sister. When an injury acts up, he makes a point to do all the heavy lifting before she decides its on her to-do list. My parents have been together for over thirty years, and they still manage to do fun and exciting things to break up the routine of every day life.
Who ever said relationships were easy was a fool. Being single is the easy thing, relationships require work and thought. Ah, but what rewarding work it is!