4 easy ways to keep your relationship happy and fulfilling – without breaking the bank

The little things mean a lot.

Relationships are like plants – if you don’t pour a little fresh water every now and then, they wither.

Steaming sessions become a mechanical in and out. Exciting dates turn into Netflix and chill. Convenience and comfort replace excitement.

Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you can stop seducing, flirting and wooing. It’s just beginning – or it should be.

It’s hard to keep things fresh and exciting when honeymoon phase is over and you have a demanding job, daily chores and screaming children around the house. But you don’t need hours upon hours to keep your relationship happy.

From my experience, a few simple things are enough to spice it up and prevent your love plant from drying out.

Put this special event on your calendar every month

The most common relationship killers aren’t kids, weight gain, or monster in-laws.

It’s routine.

When your relationship becomes predictable, it becomes about as exciting as watching a marshmallow melt in the sun. You know who’s going to make dinner, pick up the kids, and what show you want to watch on Saturday night. The week is over, repeat.

No wonder psychologists found that focusing on novelty, variety and surprise can help couples rekindle their love and feel closer again.

But most new ideas go into your “yeah, we should do that” box, next to all the other dreams that never came true.

So instead of saying you should do it, put it in your calendar.

Block off one weekend a month in advance – get a babysitter, ditch all responsibilities, and take the next day off. When it comes, go do something you’ve always wanted to do together. You can even turn it into a fun game.

One of my exes and I wrote down our ideas on little slips of paper—color-coded into categories like indoor, outdoor, free, and fair weather. Then we put them in jars and randomly pulled one out when we wanted to try something new. Here are a few suggestions to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Take a cooking class
  • Visit a city you’ve always wanted to see
  • Count shooting stars at night
  • Write a short letter to each other
  • Make cocktails together

Routine provides the basic ingredients like morning coffee and goodnight kisses. Making something new adds the spices that make your dish unforgettable.

“There is a distinction between a relationship that has a routine and a relationship that becomes routine.” – Johnny Rich

That’s why you need to spend some time alone if you want to be happy together

“Some people go through life looking for something they had but never appreciated.” – Marion Bekoe

You only realize the value of something when you no longer have it.

Think of your favorite food. If you eat it every day, the mere smell will make you sick. But a few weeks without it and you start to miss the taste. Your relationship works the same way.

Most couples spend a lot of “basic” time together – getting up in the morning and eating breakfast, eating dinner in the evening and going to bed. They take their partner for granted.

A friend of mine is traveling the world with his wife. A few months ago, they had to spend four weeks apart since she took a yoga course in another country. While he missed her a lot, he said it was a great experience because they both learned to appreciate the little things in each other’s presence again.

Their love grew through it.

You don’t have to spend four weeks meditating in a Tibetan temple, but giving yourself some time does wonders.

A night with the boys, an overnight stay with a friend or a city trip or a small holiday on your own.

Yes, you will miss your partner – that’s the point.

Give yourself the chance to appreciate and your love the chance to grow.

This small gesture will make a huge difference (if you do it regularly)

Appreciation is like sleep – you can go without it for a while, but the less you get, the more irritable and less willing to do anything you become.

No wonder a meta-study of over 11,000 couples listed it as one of the top five predictors of relationship quality.

Most people love to do something nice for their partner. But unfortunately, many partners take it for granted, especially the little things.

The morning coffee. Wash the dishes. A little rubbing after a long day.

If you let these things slide by without appreciation, your partner will not feel seen and appreciated. But if you recognize them, you will create a deeper connection and motivation to continue.

The misconception that most people have is that appreciation and gratitude must be about something new every day. They don’t.

Appreciation is not a creativity exercise, it is an appreciation exercise.

So what if you tell your partner for the tenth time that you appreciate them being vulnerable, making you tea or shopping because you were too busy?

If that’s what’s on your mind, say so. The thing itself is unimportant. Sincerely thank your partner for their efforts.

“Recognition is a reward in itself. Any kind of appreciation, even a small word, is important.” – Vikrant Massey

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Ask these tough questions regularly

“Be honest, brutally honest. That’s what’s going to sustain relationships.” – Lauryn Hill

Big changes are rarely abrupt – that’s what makes them dangerous.

I always shake my head when I hear that someone has been dumped “out of thin air”. It’s never out of the blue. The winds are always there long before the storm. But why do so many couples not see them until it’s too late?

Because they don’t give them the time and space they need.

They swallow their anger, dismiss their feelings, and compromise better judgment because they are afraid of confrontation.

It’s like seeing your car’s engine needs oil, but hoping it’ll be fine.

Instead, regularly think about how things are going.

This will help you double down on the good and avoid the bad—or at least take a pot off the stove before it makes a mess.

Get together once a month and talk about how you are doing. Here are some guiding questions:

  • Were you happy with how things went this month?
  • Is there something you’ve been holding back that you want to express?
  • Is there something you want from your partner?
  • Is there something that makes you feel hurt?
  • What are you grateful for this month with your partner?
  • What actions/moments/insights made you feel connected?
  • What actions/moments/insights made you feel disconnected?
  • How can I love you better this month?

Pro tip: Write your answers down in one relationship journal. It’s fun, helps you structure your thoughts, and you can go back and laugh at old times.

Summary to keep your relationship happy and fulfilling

Even the best relationship requires constant effort – that’s what makes it great.

  1. Block off one weekend a month to do something new and exciting.
  2. Spend some time alone every two to three months instead of taking each other’s presence for granted.
  3. Appreciate something about your partner every night.
  4. Reflect on your relationship regularly with some deep questions and a relationship journal.

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