Congratulations! You made it to the double digits in your romantic relationship. For many couples, these first ten years are chock-full of triumphs, challenges and BIG life changes including career evolution, home-buying, babies and establishing relationships with in-laws. It’s an accomplishment to be sure, but the passage of time paired with whatever demands life has thrown our way can leave partners feeling a little lacklustre in the love department! If this sounds like you, don’t despair. Check out our top tips for getting over the 10-year hump…
1. Take care of yourself
Jobs, children, friends, responsibilities, home maintenance—all these things can be demanding of our care and attention. Oftentimes, our own needs get put on the back burner and, unfortunately, a partner with an empty tank doesn’t have much to bring to the relationship table. One of the best things you can do for your relationship is to nurture yourself. Whether that means signing up for a yoga class, cozying up with Netflix or going for coffee with a friend, know that everyone (especially you!) stands to benefit.
2. Boundaries, Boundaries, Boundaries
With the bounty of responsibilities that inevitably go along with this season of life, never is it more important to establish boundaries. Leaving work on time, saying no to sitting on that board that keeps asking, demanding space from your partner, dependents or in-laws—these are all simple ways to carve out the space that is so often lacking for your romantic partner.
3. Have a regular relationship AGM
Like any successful organization, relationships require maintenance and fine tuning. Occasionally it may be beneficial to designate a neutral time and place to establish relationship goals and actionable plans to achieve them. Put these things down on paper and reassess often.
4. Talk solutions, not problems
“We never go out anymore,” might be more productive when phrased, “I booked a babysitter. We’re going to the casino on Saturday.” Or “You never unload the dishwasher!” is more of an accusatory statement than say, “Hey, babe, my morning is pretty crammed. Do you mind unloading the dishwasher?” Sometimes, a well-worded solution is more palatable than the problem.
5. Enjoy time away-from-it-all as a couple
You know you should, you even want to, but there are SO many barriers to getting away as a couple. Finances, babysitters and other commitments are all important considerations but, more often than not, these things can be overcome with time-away that is tailor-made for your needs. If overnight babysitters are a problem, try an evening out. Perhaps work to squeeze in a lunch date while the kids are at daycare. Take your mother-in-law up on her offer to babysit while you have a weekend away.
6. Find a sexy solution that suits your situation
Physical intimacy evolves over the course of a relationship, but it is never unimportant. 10 years in, sex can still be as vibrant, fun and intimate as it was in those early days, but perhaps it does require a bit more careful attention depending on your situation. For parents of young kids, try installing a lock on the bedroom door. Or, if you’re finding yourself putting your sexual relationship at the bottom of your priority pile, consider designating a day to do the deed, but, above all, keep the lines of communication and exploration open with your partner.
7. Power down on screen time
The precious minutes we spend on scrolling, posting and watching episodes of our latest binge-worthy series quickly add up to hours. There’s no shame in enjoying some down time, but it is important to acknowledge and address when our screen use becomes problematic. Most people can admit that, say, relinquishing 3 hours of sleep to a binge-watching frenzy is taking things too far, but it is equally important to recognize that spending 120 minutes watching the Bachelor and only 3 with your partner may not be a fair distribution of time.
8. Don’t forget the little things
A parting kiss, a thank you when your partner goes the extra mile, a passing caress, a sexy text, a warm greeting, an encouraging word—the little things go a LONG way.
9. Accept the things you cannot change
…namely, your partner. This can be the hardest (if not impossible) thing to accept about life in a long-term relationship, but truly there is no way around it. Trying to control or be responsible for another adult is a recipe for disaster. Accepting that you are responsible for you (and you only) is part of being a good partner, and it has the added benefit of demanding the same from those around you.
10. Get help
How would you expect your vehicle to run after 10 years without a visit to a mechanic? Similarly, relationships can benefit from regular tune-ups with relationship professionals. Counselling and coaching are critical in a crisis situation, but they can go just as far when used proactively. No relationship is without its cracks, and early intervention can stop these from becoming fissures.