I used to think that growing up was a constant series of moving on to the next thing. You work on one task, complete it, and then figure out what you want to do after that. School, then career, then relationship, then kids, then...whatever. But in my 33 years so far, I've found that's not quite the case. Each checkmark on our Life Goals™ list is less like a trophy we put on a shelf and more like getting a pet: It stays with you, brings you a lot of joy, and requires constant care. So, by the time you get to the age where you are properly, inarguably an adult, life is metaphorically like living with about a million pets that all need your attention. If that sounds daunting it's because it is. And here's the kicker: Often, we take for granted those aspects of our lives (people, places, and things) that have been with us the longest when, in actuality, they need as much routine maintenance as the things we're still in the early stages of wrangling (i.e., our romantic relationships).
Things are busy, guys, but relationships don't have pause buttons. So it's time to put on your big-kid panties and get ready to keep up. Grown-ass couples know that this is work worth committing to and the more you commit, the less it will feel like work.
This sounds so cliche, and I truly despise those maudlin Facebook memes that are like, "All you do is sit on your phone and you are a shell of a human and your children will think you hate them and you'll miss out on everything wonderful in life!" because they're such crap... but sometimes you do need to get off your damn phone. Grown-ass couples know that technology is wonderful, but sometimes it's distracting, and they make time for one another sans wifi.
Ask One Another How They're Holding Up
Because sometimes the stress of everyday life creeps up on you and you don't realize you're carrying so much on your shoulders until someone asks you to reflect on how you're feeling. Grown-ass couples help each other reflect.
I put this in quotes because sometimes time, scheduling conflicts, money, or all of the above make actually going out on an actual date difficult. But that doesn't mean you can't do a DIY, stay-at-home date night. Grown-ass couples know you can just as easily cuddle up with a movie, whip out the backgammon board, or work on a project together to achieve the same effect as going out to a candlelit dinner. (And if you can, do both! Score.)
Go Out Individually
Because grown-ass people know that maintaining your own identity is of the utmost importance and sometimes that requires flying solo with your BFFs.
Expectation-Free, Non-Erotic, Physical Touch
Grown-ass couples do not reserve their affectionate touch exclusively for times they hope to get off. A kiss goodbye in the morning, a hug from behind while doing dishes, a foot rub while watching Daredevil — these all help keep your bond strong. There are psychological benefits of touch beyond orgasm: Grown-ass couples know that, just as monkeys constantly groom each other to maintain social bonds, humans need to give the occasional affectionate pat on the bum to maintain harmony within a relationship.
Eliminate Any And All Passive-Aggression
Say what you mean and mean what you say. That's it. Nothing more to say on this topic. Mic drop. Next.
Share An Entire Bag Of Cool Ranch Doritos Without Shame Or Regret
Or maybe for you it's not Doritos, but Pop Tarts. Or maybe it's cracking open a six pack. Or maybe it's just spending 5 hours one night playing a tabletop role-playing game. Point is, grown-ass couples know that mutually indulging in a double dose of a guilty pleasure is just silly fun.
Have Meaningful Conversations Every Day
Grown-ass couples are interested in one another's intellectual lives. They don't go for weeks or even days on end discussing only what's for dinner and the weather. Their careers, their creative projects, and their thoughts on current events (and more!) are all up for discussion frequently.
Are Honest About Their Sex Life
Grown-ass couples know that there's no "one size fits all" sex life...but they also know that for a relationship to be successful you've got to be on the same page about things. So maybe you both admit that your sex drive isn't super high and you're both OK with that. Or maybe you're super kinky and you want the other person to join in. Maybe your desires and drives are mismatched in one way or another. That's OK too, because grown-ass couples can come up with creative solutions.
Talk About Problems As They Arise, Not After They've Festered
It doesn't have to be done aggressively. Certainly grown-ass couples don't berate one another. But assertively stating something you need that isn't happening (or curtailing a behavior that is happening that you don't like) is clutch.
Have Fun With The Kids Together
For grown-ass couples, parenting isn't something done by one partner while the other goes off to do some chores. Not exclusively, anyway. Family time isn't just for the benefit of the children — it strengthens a couple's bond as well (and also, it's hella fun).