There are lots of risks that you take in life, from big, life-changing risks to smaller, day-to-day gambles. Sometimes you have to sort of go it alone on the risk-taking front, but when you're sharing your life with a partner or family, the risks you choose to take or stay far away from can affect everyone, not just you. So how can you make sure that the risks you're taking are not only smart and made mindfully, but also are beneficial for you and your partner? There are some calculated risks you and your partner can take together to strengthen your relationship, bring the two of you closer together, and inject a little energy into your relationship as well.
"When you take a risk you are letting your partner know that you trust them and that they are ‘your person’, you are turning towards them not away from them (this an aspect of relationships that research shows is an indicator of strength and longevity), you are building intimacy through shared unique experience, you are building your own self-esteem by taking a risk, and high self esteem is directly correlated to better partnership," Tracy K. Ross, LCSW, a couples therapist and relationship expert, tells Romper in an email exchange. Risks have the power to make things better, even if it doesn't always seem likely that they will. While taking a risk might not be able to perform any kind of miracle or completely save a relationship, trusting each other enough to take risks together certainly can make it stronger.
1. Sharing Your Sexual Fantasies Or Mixing Things Up A Bit
Wendy Newman, a relationship expert and the author of 121 First Dates, tells Romper that mixing things up and having sex somewhere unexpected or unusual for you is one sort of risk that you can take together. Additionally, talking about fantasies or likes and dislikes can feel like you're taking a chance, even though it's relatively low-risk. Newman says that taking risks like these can bring some of that "playfulness" back to your sex life and to your relationship.
Moving might not seem like a risk, but if you're making the decision to move away from friends, family, or a city that's familiar, it can feel a little daunting. Heidi McBain, MA, LMFT, LPC, RPT, a licensed professional counselor, tells Romper in an email exchange that moving can be a risk that the two of you take together that could strengthen your relationship. "If they are in it together, it can bring them closer because they having to problem solve and make big decisions together," McBain says. You'll likely have to rely on each other a lot to get settled in your new home and facing those challenges together can make your relationship stronger.
3. Going To Couples Therapy
For some couples, going to couples therapy can certainly feel a little risky. "Working through some of your problems as a couple can be a very worthwhile endeavor," Jonathan Bennett, a certified counselor, life coach, and dating and relationship coach, tells Romper by email. "Even attending a few sessions with a relationship counselor or coach could provide insights you’d never have considered. But, seeing a therapist involves admitting that your relationship isn’t perfect, a bold move many couples fear making." Plus, therapy often requires you to be vulnerable and that can always feel like you're taking a bit of a chance.
4. Starting A Family
Deciding to start a family can also be a calculated risk. It's likely that you'll have some concerns, fears, or issues to work through, but you can face them together, as long as you're open and honest with the other about what those things might be (which itself can feel like another little risk). "Communication is key during any life change that the couple is going through because things will come up that they did not anticipate, and these are the things they are doing to have to figure out as a couple, together," McBain says.
Taking the leap and committing to your partner is always a tiny bit risky because, of course, you don't want to get hurt — and you probably don't want to hurt them either. "Becoming exclusive is a risk because both must be willing to put aside all other possible relationships for one another," Dr. Wyatt Fisher, a licensed psychologist, marriage counselor, and a niche dating site founder, tells Romper by email. "Getting married is a massive risk where both spouses are willing to permanently put aside all other relationships for one another." Whether commitment does or doesn't look like marriage for you and your partner, it's still a bit of a risk, but it will certainly require you to trust and respect one another, bringing you closer together.
6. Speaking Up
Dr. Jennifer Oikle, PhD, a relationship therapist and the founder of MySoulmate.com, told Cosmopolitan that speaking up when you disagree with your partner — especially if it's something that's really important to you — can be a good risk. It can be intimidating to vocally disagree with someone close to you, even if you think the relationship is rock-solid, but ultimately it could help the two of you better understand each other.
7. Taking On A Joint Challene
"A physical or fitness challenge such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, going on a bike trip, running a marathon, [completing] 20 workouts in 30 days, etc. [allows] you [to] encourage each other and there is some healthy competition — both lead to stronger connection," Ross says. Plus, yes, you'll be competing a little bit, but you'll also feel like you're on the same team, working toward the same goal. And teamwork can definitely bring the two of you closer together and make your relationship that much stronger.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.