Keeping the fire burning in a long-term relationship takes time and energy, and while many feel starting a romantic accord with a special someone is the first step towards “happily ever after,” that isn’t always the case. In 2014, almost 60% of people reported being very happy in their relationships, according to a study for the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, but what about the other 40%?
One of the issues many couples face within their relationships is boredom – and if someone is bored, they aren’t happy. Boredom begets a feeling of greater distance and unhappiness, say the results of a 2009 study published in the academic journal Psychological Science. Couples were asked to select one of seven pairs of circles overlapping in various amounts to represent their marriage. Bored couples were most likely to select separate circles — representing emotional separation between themselves and their partner — when bored.
So how DO you get rid of boredom in a relationship? How do you stop stagnancy BEFORE it happens, and more importantly, how do you get out of the mundane rut many couples find themselves in after being together for some time?
We Are Creatures of Habit
It is normal for us to find a daily, weekly and monthly rhythm in our lives and in our relationships, but it is good to often mix things up. This is why so many people – when they are feeling like one day melds into the other and their life is flying by – go out and try new things. But if you are in a long-term relationship or marriage, unless the context of your relationship deviates from the norm, it is frowned upon to go out and try a “new person.” All things considered, we did a little research on what you and your partner can do to keep things interesting….after all, if you are interested, you aren’t bored.
How to Keep Your Relationship Interesting
- Novelty – Keep Trying New Things!
Anthropologist Helen Fisher says, “Research shows that novelty–taking risks or trying something new–can trigger the release of dopamine in the brain. I’m not just talking about novelty in the bedroom (although that would be a good start). You can get the same effect from sampling a new type of cuisine together or riding the roller coaster at an amusement park.”
- Keep exploring sex while in the relationship and deviate from the norm!
Sex is an incredibly important aspect in a relationship and applying the rule of novelty in the bedroom can do wonders for keeping couples engaged and intrigued in each other. Trying something new with your partner such as trying a new position each month, or playing “everything but” (everything but sex) every once in a while can keep things steamy. Having sex regularly and sexting in between sessions can also heighten the mood.
While we are on the topic of sex, the authors of the 2004 paper “Money, Sex, and Happiness: An Empirical Study” estimate that increasing sexual activity from once a month to once a week increases happiness by the same amount as getting paid an extra $50,000 per year.
- Try new activities together – this can enhance relationship satisfaction.
Exploring a new part of the city, eating at a new restaurant or taking on a fun new class keeps things exciting as well. A couple that grows together, stays together.
- Keep date nights, or if your schedules don’t work, create mini-dates like breakfast or tea together.
I know our schedules can get hectic, but if you don’t make time for your partner your relationship can go stagnant pretty quick. Make time to work on your relationship and your relationship will work for you.
- Make thinking positive about your partner a habit.
I get that sometimes we need a little gal time to vent about that really annoying thing your boyfriend or husband does, but focusing on the negative all the time can mean certain doom for relationships.
- Make household chores great again!
Doing housework together and distributing the workload evenly can actually lead to more satisfaction and more sex (bonus).
- Work on YOURSELF first.
When you are happy for no reason, you can’t help but get a little of it on your partner. Additionally, you won’t be looking to your partner to make you happy – leaving them free to work on their own happiness.
- Communicate often and fight when you need to! A 2012 Florida State study found that couples who had “angry but honest” conversations early on in their relationship were happier in the long run.
If you are bored in your relationship, it isn’t the end of the world – a few changes in your daily routine can set you and your partner right again. Go try something new, take a new dance class or pretend you’re a tourist in your city. Check out these other awesome date-night ideas to leave the guess-work out.