New relationships are fun, filled with butterflies and freshness. You’re learning about your new partner, and they’re learning about you. It’s exciting! But what happens when you’re past the honeymoon stage? How do you find new ways to feel close to your partner?
It can be a challenge to carve out time to bond with your mate when the monotony of life gets in the way. You have jobs to go to, kids to take care of, and bills to pay. But those things don’t have to come at the expense of your relationship. That’s why creating time meant just for you two can have a huge impact and help you feel connected.
Bonding doesn’t have to be forced, nor does it need to feel like a chore. You can find ways to create intimacy that actually excite you and feel like a natural part of your routine. And while some of those things may involve going out of your way to make time for the experience, others can be built in to your everyday life.
Here are seven bonding experiences that every couple should share to help keep the closeness in a relationship.
1. Do Something the Other Person Loves
Even if the two of you share a ton of mutual interests, doing something solely for the benefit of the other person can mean a lot. It shows you care enough to go out of your way to make your partner happy. Not only that, but you can also learn a lot about your partner when you share in something they love. And who knows, you might even discover a new passion along the way.
2. Spend Time Apart
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and, in my experience, that’s absolutely true. When you spend every hour of every day of every week with someone, it’s easy to get sick of them or take them for granted. Time away allows you to appreciate each other even more, while also giving you time to cultivate relationships with family and friends.
3. Have Uninterrupted Conversations
Turn off the TV, put your phones in another room, and just talk to each other. My partner and I dedicate one evening per week to being “unplugged” together. In doing so, we learn much more about each other and grow closer than we ever could if we’d just spent the night watching Real Housewives.
4. Find Intimacy In Ways That Don’t Involve Orgasms
If sex is something that you and your partner value, by all means, have it whenever and wherever you want. But the truth of the matter is that, over the course of a long-term relationship, the frequency of sex ebbs and flows. Sometimes a trauma history makes sex difficult for one partner, or maybe a new addition to the family throws a wrench in your copulation schedule. For these and a myriad of other reasons, it is helpful to create intimacy with each other in ways that don’t involve climax. Back massages, foot rubs, bubble baths, and dancing are all great ways to get close without getting sexual.
5. Make a Home
Nothing brings a couple closer than moving in together. That doesn’t mean you should sign a lease this instant — co-habitation only works if you are both ready to take the step — but when you do decide to shack up with your S.O., make every effort to create a space that is both of yours.
6. See a Counselor
Seeing a counselor can strengthen areas of your relationship that you may not think need work. In fact, many couples suggests seeing a couple’s counselor even when there aren’t any problems. In an interview with Good Housekeeping, Kristen Bell said she and husband Dax Shepard see a marriage counselor to keep their relationship on the right path. I can say from personal experience that counseling has made our communication better and helps us talk about things that we would have tried to sweep under the rug otherwise. It won’t save a relationship that’s already doomed, but counseling can add a lot to an already-strong one.
7. Cook Together
Maybe this is just for me, but I love preparing meals with my partner. It involves an element of trust, as he doesn’t question what we’re making or how we’re making it. It also creates an environment where we have to be able to communicate with each other in order to produce the desired result. And since we don’t always have a lot of time for one another, we can turn the time spent preparing food for our family into time spent together. Plus, we get to eat delicious food at the end of it all. Who can say no to that?