If you try to fix your favorite recipe and leave out an ingredient, it makes sense that it won’t taste the same. In fact, if you leave baking soda out of a birthday cake you get a birthday pancake- a very different result than you wanted. The missing ingredient matters – a lot.
While the recipe may vary depending upon the couple, there are certain key ingredients that make any relationship healthy and enjoyable, and if one of those ingredients is missing, the relationship naturally feels the negative effect. Often when a relationship seems to lose its vibrancy and one or both partners feel unimportant or even neglected, the ingredient that is missing is intent. Life gets busy, we feel overwhelmed, we’re just too tired today, we’ll get to it tomorrow, and the tomorrows pile up, and it seems like it’s been a long while since there any intentional authentic efforts to connect beyond calendar and grocery lists.
Once one or both partners realize and admit that something doesn’t taste right anymore, the solution is to find a way to put intent back into the relationship. Here are a few thoughts to get you started.
1. Put your partner on your daily to-do list
Yeah, I know this sounds sexy. Steamy, even. The truth of the matter is that if you don’t take some practical steps, you’re likely to get the same results you have been getting, which hasn’t been working out too well. Taking a small step on a daily basis to show appreciation in a way that fits the way your partner is wired will go a long way. Speak their love language. If you’re not familiar with what I mean, here’s a great resource.
2. Begin a reconnection ritual time each evening
The term “reconnection ritual” was coined by Bill Doherty, a family studies professor at the University of Minnesota, and it is simply protecting and priortizing a short time together after dinner and before bedtime to spend together. It might be Conversation Over a glass of wine, a game of backgammon, conversation about the day, trading foot rubs. It does not have to be the same thing everyday, but the commitment to connect everyday is the key ingredient. It doesn’t even have to be at the same time each day.
3. Schedule weekly date nights
You know how to do this already, because that’s how you got this far into the relationship. Get back in touch with what worked and protect that together time. It might look different because of kids and other commitments, but sending a signal to one another that being together is important will make this work once more.
If you’ll notice, these steps are more about follow through than intent. But… intent is the first step, and the key ingredient that must be a part of the mix.
Rev. Greg Griffin is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and Forgiveness Coach in private practice in Marietta, GA. His specialty is relationship repair and rescue- helping partners, spouses, and parents and their adolescents. He’s also the author of Dungeon Times Survival Guide, and Vital Faith.