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Keeping Love Alive in Close Quarters

You adore your sweetheart, you really do. But the two of you have been spending a lot of time together lately, and a case of TMI has set in. (Does he really have to clip his toenails in the living room?)

So how do you get that special spark back?

First of all, acknowledge that we’ve all been living through some strange times lately. “No one ever suggested spending every waking minute in the same space, day in and day out,” says relationship expert Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT, who blogs at Love and Life Toolbox. She notes that while all that togetherness can have a negative effect on some relationships, “others will thrive and become stronger.”

Here are ways to fall into the better-than-ever category.

Give Each Other Some Alone Time

This should be getting easier as restrictions continue to lift across the country, so take full advantage. Even if you can’t pop down to the spa yet, for example, get out and take a walk or drive by yourself, maybe bringing music or some reading material to a nearby park. “Time alone can allow for a fresh perspective,” says Kift.

When You Are Together, Be Present for One Another

Listen, really listen, to each other’s hopes and fears, which means not checking your phone every two minutes and keeping the TV off for a while. Keep in mind there are two ways to listen: empathetic—“I know what you’re going through, and I’m here for you”—and problem solving—“I know it’s a tight job market, so tell me how I can help you with your resume.” Both are legitimate approaches, but it’s important that you pick up on each other’s cues as to which convo to have when.

Find Your Joy Day by Day

Watch that sunset, listen to that birdsong, sing silly songs with your toddler: Life’s joys are made of moments such as these, especially if you share them together. It also helps to write down three things that make you happy every morning—and share that list with your loved one.

Discuss Intimacy Issues Sensitively

For some people, stress is a libido-killer; for others, sex is a temporary escape from stress. Neither approach is wrong—and if you and your partner are on opposite sides of the coin, you both need to acknowledge that. “Being able to express your needs and feelings to your partner is very helpful and comforting,” says therapist Shamyra Howard. The place to express those needs isn’t the bedroom but the living room or the kitchen, with both of you fully clothed. This scenario lowers the emotional stakes and reduces your sense of vulnerability.

Nurture Your Future Dreams

And don’t make those idle daydreams, either. Having a concrete vision of future happiness that you can hang onto—a long-awaited trip, perhaps, or relocation to a place that suits your lives better—can “help re-establish meaning and purpose,” says Kift.

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**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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