We moved into our brand new house in 2005. It was such an incredible experience to move into a clean, freshly painted, and newly landscaped space. At that time, every wall was free of blemishes, every door closed quickly, and there wasn’t one stain on the carpet. However, as I look around today, I can’t say it looks the same. My carpets need a deep clean, my walls could use some new paint, and after raising 4 children, the hardwood floors could use some TLC too. We have made some improvements over the years, but it seems the work this house requires never ends.
Next week my husband and I will be celebrating our 29th wedding anniversary. Relationships require as much upkeep as a house does. If you let things go too long, even the best relationships can start to break down. Paying attention to our relationships regularly is a requirement and is so important. Like a house, if you let a repair go too long, it continues to break down and becomes more costly. I’d love to say that we always keep up with the maintenance of our relationship, but I can’t. Life can get messy and busy and sometimes feel out of control. Kids, family, jobs, and school all take up time and require our attention. Sometimes our marriage relationship is the one that suffers. But all is not lost. After 29 years, I’ve learned there is always room for improvement and repair.
Improvement and Repair Ideas
Attend to the small things first
What are small things? Start with saying “good morning” when you get up and say “goodbye” when you leave. This small action shows that you recognize the other person and care enough to reach out. Send a text message once or twice a day to tell your partner about something small that happened to you. Share a funny meme or TikTok. Kiss them goodnight. These small gestures are some of the first things we forget about but also the easiest to bring back. Small changes make significant impacts.
Schedule time to spend together
We all know that it’s easy to put our partner and our relationship on the back burner once homework is done, extracurriculars have started, and we are feeling too busy to care about anything else in life. When this happens, you are likely making your partner feel as though they don’t matter as much as you do. Try scheduling some quality time with your partner daily by leaving a few minutes for each other at the end of the day. You can also set up a weekly appointment to reconnect. My husband and I like to “celebrate” the end of the week with what we’ve named “Charcuterie Friday.” We’ve come to look forward to our Friday night dates and don’t even need to leave our kitchen.
Plan a romantic getaway
It could be a vacation for the two of you, but it doesn’t have to be! For many years, we were so broke we couldn’t afford to use the toll roads, let alone take a vacation. However, “we’re broke” is only an excuse. A romantic getaway could be a walk in the forest preserve, a day trip to a Michigan winery (free tastings!), or even a few lit candles, a pizza, and a Scrabble board. Getting away from the everyday routine is the important part. Go to the movies, walk a trail, hit a bucket of balls at a golf range. Brainstorm ideas together, make a list, and start checking things off.
If you’ve been in a relationship for some time, it can be easy to feel stuck, forget about having fun, and just worry about life’s business. Take a moment and look at your partner, remember what attracted you to them in the first place, remember the fun you used to have when you first started dating, and rekindle what may have been lost for a while.
However, there are times when relationships have broken down so much it’s time to find help. Marriage counseling can be a powerful tool to bring life back to a relationship. You may need to find someone to help you and your partner communicate more openly and effectively. If that is the case, call Olive Branch and ask to set up an appointment, we have counselors who can help.
If you need support and would like to speak to a professional counselor about topics such as the one featured in this blog and are in the Chicago area, please contact Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc. at 708-633-8000. We are at 6819 West 167th Street in Tinley Park, Illinois 60477.
Written By: Christine B., Masters Level Intern 2023
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