Everyone has heard of the honeymoon stage where everything is roses and cherries. You are both asking questions to get to know the other one better and both are for the most part on your best behavior or putting your best foot forward. After this stage, the idiosyncrasies come out and habits you have been trying to hold back come through. You get into a more comfortable pattern. Working, eating, sleeping and some time for play. But the newness has rubbed off and now it is back to the grind of life.
Just because the grind of life becomes more of the focus again doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put focus on your partner. We can never learn everything there is to know about someone, especially in the time frame of the honeymoon stage. Also everyone is constantly growing and changing. No their core values aren’t changing but their tastes in food, clothes, what’s most important to them, hobbies, etc. can change over time. So remember to keep getting to know the person you are with. Remember the wondering and curiosity you had at the beginning of the relationship and bring that back to the forefront. Ask questions not just about their day but about their past and their dreams for the future. Have you ever asked your partner what their ideal day would like? How about what their ideal fantasy day would be like where anything is possible and money doesn’t matter?
During this plateau, date nights might get a bit redundant and predictable. Are you tired of the old dinner and a movie? Or going out with friends to a bar? I recommend coming up with a date list. On your own each come up with a list of 10 things you haven’t done in at least 6 months or even a year. Then spend one of your date nights going through each other’s lists thinking about the possibilities. Take turns who plans each date and at least once a month try one new thing from the list. If you can do it more than once a month great, but if not don’t let a month go by without trying a new activity.
We also tend to get less grateful to our partners as time goes by. Actions and gestures become expected and although we say the obligatory thank you it doesn’t hold the same meaning as it used to. So a good exercise to do with each other is writing a list of things you are grateful for about your partner. They can be big or small things but things that you see in your partner that you think are amazing. Then take a date night and share your lists with each other.
A good relationship doesn’t mean it is free of plateaus. A good relationship requires effort and energy put towards fostering the relationship to make it even more meaningful and deep. So take the time, we say we don’t have enough time in the days, but there is always time to send a text that says I am thinking about you. Remember the curiosity, the fun dates and what made you fall in love with the person in the first place.
Stephanie Mintz M.A., LMFT
Marriage and Family Therapy Counseling Playa Vista, CA