It’s easy to prioritize your relationship on Valentine’s Day—when hearts and flowers are everywhere.
Though, the best relationships are strong all year long, not just on Valentine’s Day.
Of course, you probably want to keep that Valentine’s Day feeling all the time. But how do you prioritize your relationship when your days (and nights) are full of obligations? Work, family, self-care, children, community responsibility, sports, entertainment, and again, work.
Is it even possible to make your relationship your top priority?
Prioritizing—What It Involves
Think about what you do when something is your priority. If it’s a person, you want to be with them. You rearrange your schedule, meet halfway, send messages—whatever it takes to stay connected. It’s not just about what you want. You care about the other person’s life and well-being and make choices that satisfy both of you.
Humans measure by comparison. We spend time on the things we value. If you spend most of your time and effort on everything else in your life, your partner will feel that you rate them second, or third, or even further down the line. If you don’t prioritize your relationship, if you take it for granted or ignore it, it’s not likely to flourish.
Here are 5 ways to prioritize your relationship beyond Valentine’s Day.
1. Schedule Time for Each Other
Pencil each other in. Make sure you and your partner have time together on a regular basis. Schedule it, or inertia will take over, and you won’t do it.
Some good ideas include:
- Check in with each other during the day. Talk on the phone. Grab a few minutes together after work to ask, “How did your day go?” and “How are we doing?”
- At least once a week, take some quiet time just to talk, relax, and enjoy being together.
- Have a regular date night—or day. Keep it simple, but take time for each other.
- Plan an overnight or weekend getaway several times a year. Once a quarter is good.
2. Don’t Just Talk—Communicate
Of course, sexual intimacy is important. It relieves stress, increases bonds, and rekindles your connection with each other. But other forms of communication are important, too.
Consider, for example:
- Have intimate conversations. Deepen the communication. Break your usual pattern. Expand the ordinary.
- Learn how to talk about how you talk. Instead of talking past each other, try to explain. “I have trouble when we talk about _______ because I’m afraid you’re going to get mad.” “When you do _________, I feel __________. It would help me if you did ________.”
- Find ways to send love. Leave notes for each other. Talk on the phone. Surprise each other with little gifts or acts. If you can’t afford flowers or candy, how about doing the dishes, mowing the lawn, putting the kids to bed?
- Show as well as tell. Kisses and hugs speak volumes.
3. Fight Fair
Put some of these suggestions into practice:
- Try not to defend yourself. When your partner complains, it’s easy to get defensive. Instead, listen and respond. “I see you’re not happy. What do you need? I’ll try to do better next time.”
- Don’t counter attack. You’re in a relationship, not a power struggle. You might win the argument but lose the relationship.
- Deal with one problem at a time. Keep focused on the issue at hand. This is no time to bring up all things your partner does that bug you.
- Assume the best, not the worst. “Yes,” and . . . not “Yes, but . . . . “
4. Act Like a Team: Solve Problems Together
You and your partner are a community. Working together in your relationship requires teamwork. It’s important that you recognize your common values and beliefs. Doing so helps discourage activities that can cause conflict between you.
Your shared experiences and background are the foundation for understanding each other. Focus on your common goals and interests. What do you want to accomplish, singly and together? Focus on how, as a team, you can make those things happen.
At work, as adults, you solve problems. You have meetings, follow agenda, and get things done. Apply that approach to your relationship. Pretend you’re at work. Attack those relationship issues and solve them, one at a time.
5. Treat Each Other with Courtesy, Respect, and Sensitivity
In an intimate partnership, it’s easy to blur the lines and forget all about courtesy and respect.
Instead, try to:
- Be sensitive to each other’s feelings. You know each other better than anybody else. That means you need to be more caring and sensitive, not less.
- Don’t push each other’s buttons.
- Treat your partner as you want to be treated.
On Beyond Valentine’s Day
Keeping your relationship your highest priority all year takes effort, but it’s certainly worth it.
Therefore, schedule time for each other and communicate—don’t just talk. When you fight, fight fair, and act as a team to solve problems together. Moreover, treat each other as you want to be treated: with courtesy, respect, and sensitivity.
When you follow the aforementioned 5 ways to prioritize your relationship, it should remain healthy from one Valentine’s Day to another for a long, long time.