Relationship Checklist - ‘A.C.T.’ and Play
After a period of time together, it is very common for relationships to begin to become predictable or dull. Communication can lapse, we can forget to ‘play’ with each other and, as a result, affection and sex may be affected.
Although the majority of people say their relationship is a top priority in their lives we can often stop putting the appropriate time or energy into our relationships.
Below is a summary of ideas as a reminder of ways you can keep your relationship fresh and interesting.
Attention and Affection – do you pay careful attention to your partner? Do you think about their needs?
Be attentive, listen properly, show interest, have lots of hugs and cuddles, be thoughtful, think about what would benefit your partner.
Touch is so important – touch can relax or arouse. Our patterns of touching can become habitual, or we can forget to lovingly touch each other regularly. For example, passing touches – every time you pass your partner, pat, stroke or squeeze them. Your therapist will discuss other kinds of touch.
Communication – often, especially in a long term relationship, communication can be reduced to ‘admin’. Remember the kind of conversations you used to have when you were first dating? Try to have face to face talks without external distractions such as TV. Your therapist will have advice on communication, including the ‘I feel’ technique.
Thought and Time
Planning – we tend to feel spontaneous is good. However, we plan everything else in our lives, so why not plan things to do with your partner, including lovemaking. Your partner will enjoy the sense that you have thought about it and planned how to initiate and follow through. Having regular ‘dates’ is a good idea, taking turns to plan what to do.
‘Life gets in the way’ – work, children, family, friends, household chores – it can seem hard to find time for our relationship, but if we do not prioritise it and put creative energy into spending time with our partner, the relationship can wither.
Play – think of fun ‘playful’ things you can do – like chasing in the park, painting pictures of each other, tickling, pillow fights, paddle in mud then wash each others feet. It may seem silly but having childish, frivolous fun together helps make bonds and is a healthy alternative to being adult and serious.
Vary normal patterns. Instead of eating together at the table, have a picnic in front of the fire, or in bed. Feed each other, comment on tastes, colours, smells and textures.
Sex – aim for variety and unpredictability in the build up. Often we fall into certain patterns of foreplay and sexual behaviour. Ring the changes, make love in different rooms. Vary how you touch and how long you spend on lovemaking. Women take longer than men do to become fully aroused so spending more time, especially on clitoral touching, will help both partners to get more out of lovemaking. Your therapist can give you more ideas on how to get back that ‘fizz’ you felt when you first knew each other.