7 Ways to Shock Your Long-Term Partner.

And keep your relationship great.

image by Karsten Winegeart from Unsplash.com

With long-term relationships can come many things. Assuming the relationship is a happy and healthy one, being with someone over the long-term (say, three years or more) can bring with it certain natural changes and shifts.

Typically by this point, love is deepening even further. Instead of that lusty, flash-in-the-pan, excitement laden sensation (which is also wonderful, important, and such fun), it segues more into a slower burning feeling of hot coals in a firepit. Still warm, hot even, though without the leaping flames. Roots grow deeper in the relationship right about now. A sense of comfort, contentment, and security can kick in.

Along with all of this can also come the (somewhat unavoidable) taking your partner for granted. You are used to them just…always being there. So it’s easy for this to become the assumed norm and to feel ordinary, rather than exciting and exceptional like it used to. Things can start to get slightly predictable and stale. Routines might dominate. Their not-so-great traits and annoying behaviors can start to feel more prominent and may get on your nerves. And if we aren’t careful about this stuff, with time, it can chip away at an otherwise great relationship. So while some of this is a natural occurrence in long-term relationships, it’s important to be mindful of all of it.

In the meantime, though, for those in long-term relationships and who might be contending with some of the unavoidable changes mentioned above, here are a few things you can do to potentially shock your romantic partner (in a great way).

(Note: many of these can be applied to friendships and family relations too)

Be excited to see them.

When we expect and assume our partner will just be there most or every day, though we are likely still quite happy to see them, sometimes we don’t act like it. We may, instead, behave as if them coming through the door is just another routine part of the day.

Yet, imagine if suddenly, your partner was gone. If god forbid, they passed away suddenly, or, the relationship abruptly ended and they were no longer coming through the door. Most likely (assuming your relationship is a happy and healthy one), this would crush you.

So, remember that this person coming through the door each day is still a wonderful, exciting, joy-inducing thing, and one for which you are blessed. Now take that inner gratitude a step further and show it. Give them a big smile, come over to them, wrap them in a hug, or give them a great kiss. You could remark, “I’m so glad to see you.” You get the idea.

Plan something novel or romantic, an experience they would enjoy.

And then treat them to this.

When we are with someone over the long-term, it’s easy to slide into a routine. To forget to shake things up. To forget that we still want to impress this person and keep their interest. We can take that stuff for granted.

Don’t. This is dangerous territory, to slide into laziness, to stop trying to impress your partner, to cease doing fun things together, and things that remind them of your feelings for them.

So, once or twice a month, come up with something on the sly and then surprise them with it. This could be anything. Going sledding, a picnic in the park, trying out a new restaurant (for now, eating outdoors of course), embarking on a new hike, baking something novel together, creating a different outdoor workout session and doing it together, serving them breakfast in bed, going and staying in an offbeat Airbnb, playing mini-golf, stargazing, doing a puzzle together, going camping, trying outdoor yoga, skiing or snowshoeing, etc.

Show a great degree of interest in the things most important to them.

According to Stephen Covey of 7 Principles of Highly Effective People, this is one of the central and most important ways we can show our love for someone. The things they love the most (maybe it’s baseball, or it might be their job as a painter, or their work writing books. It could be the drones they build, or their work with children, or gardening), you should display a significant interest in that thing, with regards to this person you love.

When you do not do this, in a way, it sort of says: I cannot be bothered to love you with too much effort outside my own interests.

If your son adores music, you should take some time to listen to a few of the songs he most wants to share with you. If your sister loves books, take the time to read her favorite and then talk with her about it. If your friend delights in doing puzzles, do some puzzles with them regularly. If your romantic partner makes pottery, sit down with him or her and ask questions, learn the process, ask about his or her inspiration for certain pieces, etc.

Here’s the tricky part, though. This cannot be faked. People can smell false, obligatory interest a mile away. Usually, this looks like some talk, but with little to zero actual behaviors that show that interest. If you fake interest, people will know it (and then will think you’re lame for it and feel hurt by this) so your interest must be genuine. One of the utmost ways to love someone, though? Show significant interest in the thing they love most.

Ask them a totally new question each week.

Make it something you do not know about them and have never really touched on in-depth. Give this some thought before you ask it and you will surely find something.

It can be something about them personally, something with regards to their life experience prior to your relationship, their opinion about something in particular, etc.

This will remind both of you that, as much as you know your partner, there is still always much to learn. It will add interest and a sense of fun to your relationship, as well as a feeling of discovery. It can keep things feeling more exciting in your conversations and may lead to new knowledge of one another that surprises you.

Randomly tell them regularly, a few reasons why they are special to you.

As we spend all of our time with someone, and over the course of many years, we might just assume they know we love them. We may think, I don’t need to say it, I’ve already told them a million times. Guess what? No one ever gets tired of hearing about their worth to others. And, no one is a mind reader either. So continue to tell them.

Ever heard of the 5:1 concept by Drs Julie and John Gottman? They are two famous relationship scientists who are able to predict with a 98% accuracy rate after watching a couple talk for just 15-minutes whether or not their relationship will last over the long-term. The 5:1 concept states that for every 1 negative interaction with someone, you need 5 positive interactions or sentiments to counter-balance it. This keeps enough positive in the relationship bank so that the predominant feelings in the relationships remain warm and fuzzy.

And, within the 5:1 concept, that includes loving verbal sentiment. You love your partner, right? They add immensely to your life, yes? They have qualities by which you are inspired and in awe of, yes? You think they are beautiful, right? (And, if no to any of these questions, it might be time to end the relationship…). So tell them these things, at least a few times a week. Your relationship will be far better for it.

Is there something for which you often get on their case? Let it go sometimes.

Ask yourself: is this thing really a big deal or am I being nitpicky? If it’s a big deal, then maybe do not let it go. If, however, it’s likely a nitpicky thing (and we all have these with regards to our partner), decide to let it go sometimes instead of getting on them about it like usual. They will notice and be delighted. (And, this can help you with regards to the 5:1 concept).

If you don’t already do this (and actually, you should), listen more carefully.

To the things they talk about, their feelings, their current life experiences, their goals, their worries, their desires. All of this makes up the complicated, beautiful kaleidoscope of who your partner is inside. Something you should very much want to know.

Why do this more and better?

This focused listening on your part will become obvious on later occasions, in conversations you two have and gestures you eventually make, based on the things you’ve learned about them through this careful listening. And your partner will be immensely moved by it.

The best possible gift you can give any person is your full attention, interest, and listening since most people no longer put in this kind of effort with others nowadays. Thus, a person who takes the time to make us feel fully seen and heard, as though they are truly interested, is rare. And they are one we will not soon forget.

Do these seven things regularly and watch your long-term partner be surprised, thrilled, delighted, and the relationship stay a happy one.

Fervent writer. Ravenous reader. Impassioned with words. Relationship researcher. Social Scientist. Social Justice Advocate. Author. www.brookeenglish.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store