It’s a tale as old as time: Two people fall in love. At first, they can’t get enough of each other. But as the years wane, so does the romance.
When you’re bored with your relationship, it’s easy to blame your partner, explains spiritual counselor and award-winning author Tracee Dunblazier. But the real problem, she says, may be you.
“The focus always goes back to ourselves,” Dunblazier tells NBC News BETTER. “If you’re not at peace with yourself, if you are bored and irritated with being with yourself, then other people are never going to satisfy you no matter how hard you try.”
In many long-term relationships, “people stop trying,” Dunblazier says. That’s because once we feel comfortable with our relationships, we start to fixate more and more on our jobs and other responsibilities instead of the people we love, she says.
But there are many ways we can keep our relationships from stagnating, according to the author.
Focus on what you can do for your partner instead of what they should do for you
When relationships start to falter, it’s often because at least one partner feels their expectations aren’t being met, “so they get bored and turn away,” says Dunblazier. When this happens, the sexual dynamic begins to suffer, she explains.
“They emotionally take their toys and go somewhere else,” Dunblazier says.
But if you feel your desires aren’t being met, it may be a sign that you are expecting too much, she says.
“If a person is finding themselves feeling resentment for their partner, they have to sit down and ask themselves, ‘What are the top five needs that I have that I do not feel are being met by my partner?’” says Dunblazier. Then, figure out what you can do for yourself to fulfill those needs.
“Figure out first what you can give to yourself and then that will put you in a different frame of reference to request certain things from your partner,” she says, “and also it puts you in a position to be able to give more to your partner.”
When you do this, explains Dunblazier, you are much more focused on what you can do for your partner. That, in turn, puts them in a position to focus on your needs, she says.
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Sit and be at peace with each other
How can couples reconnect when a once-romantic partnership turns boring? A great way to connect is to simply sit in silence with one another, says Dunblazier.
Here’s how to do it: Sit back to back on the floor. Do not speak to each other or turn to make eye contact. Simply lean against each other and feel one another’s warmth and energy.
“Once you start there, it’s really interesting what kind of emotional things come up — intimacy, things you desire to share,” says Dunblazier. “Oftentimes, if people would just slow down and pay attention, it will give them the energy they need to open up and share some of their ideas or thoughts.”
Another way to reconnect is to eat together in silence, she says, without trying to force a conversation.
“I find that more love and affection can happen sometimes the less people physically talk because there is more energy that can be shared, and it can open you up to really communicating things that are meaningful not only to you as a person but to your partner and to the relationship,” she says.
Help your partner out
If your partner has a busy life, helping them out with small things will make their day less monotonous and show them you care. If you partner does most of the cleaning, for example, schedule a day where you take over those responsibilities, advises Dunblazier.
“To have help and to feel like your partner is helping you carry the burden of whatever the chores are of the day, that creates a lot of sexual tension and connection to feel like you are in it with somebody,” Dunblazier says.
Create a “gratitude board”
Another way couples can create excitement in their relationship is to create a gratitude board, according to Dunblazier. Every day, write something on a whiteboard that you love about each other, why you are grateful to be together, or how you feel you each contribute to your relationship spiritually and financially, she advises.
“…bringing that into your relationship is a really powerful way to not feel like the responsibility is just on you or just on them to create wellness or happiness — that there is this larger universe outside of you,” says Dunblazier.
Surprise your partner
A great way to spark excitement in a relationship is to surprise your partner in small ways, says Dunblazier.
“I love hidden notes — just a little written note, Post-it in their brief case or their pocket, in the collar of a shirt, little gift cards, a little $5 dollar Starbucks card,” she says. “I love to do creative things that don’t really cost anything.”
Dunblazier recalled a former boyfriend who used to bring her roses from his garden and send her funny social media memes throughout the day.
“He would constantly send me these hilarious memes…and just do really thoughtful things to let me know he was thinking of me,” Dunblazier remembers, “and none of them ever cost him money, and I think I appreciated that, as well.”
How to create excitement in your relationship:
- Make it about them, not you: When relationships get boring, it’s often because at least one partner feels their expectations or desires aren’t being met. Instead of expecting your partner to fulfill your needs, focus on how you can fulfill their needs instead. This, in turn, creates opportunities for them to focus on you.
- Eliminate expectations: When once-romantic partnerships become mundane, it can be difficult to reconnect. Simply being together without any expectations can be a great way to rebuild romance. Sitting back to back in silence, or eating together without forcing a conversation, can help rebuild that energy and intimacy.
- Help your partner out: If your partner is busy all the time, figure out what you can do to help them so their life is less monotonous.
- Write it down: Hang a whiteboard on the wall where you and your partner write down what you love and appreciate about each other every day.
- Surprise your partner: Figure out small ways to surprise your partner throughout the day, whether it’s picking them flowers or writing them notes to let them know how much you care.
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