About eight months into my romantic relationship, I became aware that things were becoming routine. We used to have a lot of fun doing cute and special things for each other. It was easy, and it took no effort. I wanted to do special things for him to make him smile. However, as time passes, it’s important to find ways to intentionally appreciate your relationship.

But slowly, the effort was fading. It’s not uncommon for life to become routine, even for relationships. After so long of following the same routine, it’s very easy to fall into the same steps.

I communicated this concern to my wonderful and loving boyfriend. I didn’t want our relationship to become routine, and I didn’t want us being together because we had simply grown accustomed to each other. So many couples fall into a rut. It’s understandable, but I didn’t want us to stop making each other smile. I wanted us to want to be together and to actively show each other our appreciation of each other.

So we dedicated a month to kind and loving gestures towards the other. The goal is to do a nice, loving gesture every day for a month. It is challenging, as it’s easy to run out of ideas. We usually don’t make it every day for the full month, but that’s okay. The point is to continue doing nice things for each other, even after the month is over. Every day for every month is difficult, as we are busy people. But by doing a month-long challenge to intentionally appreciate each other, it’s easier to continue doing so in a busy routine as well.

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Here are some ideas to get you started:

Leave Random Notes

I usually leave notes on the bathroom mirror. It’s a location where I know he will see it. I’ve always loved receiving notes. It doesn’t have to be a long message or a poem or an essay. Some of mine have simply been a welcome home message, reminding him after a long work week that I’m always here to support him. Others are messages to remind him to do something, or updating him on something when he wakes up. Like if I go on an early run, I’ll leave him a handwritten note to let him know.

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You can also get creative with where you leave your notes. He’s left me a note card with a motivational message in one of my textbooks when I was taking class. Or I’ll leave him a note in one of his notebooks for work or in his laptop. It’s just a nice way to remind your significant other that you are thinking of them.

Buy Flowers (Or Other Surprises)

I’m not much of a flower person, and I’m generally very frugal. So I wouldn’t want my boyfriend to spend money on buying me flowers every week, but every once in a while is nice. It’s nice to get flowers for occasions, or after a rough week, or just for no reason except to treat me. This might be more for the man to buy the girl, but sometimes I think men wouldn’t mind a surprise as well. If not flowers, think of some other gifts they might like. Maybe a watch they need replaced, or a wallet, or even a creative tie or tie clip. Think about what they need or what they like, and get them a small surprise.

Dress Up

If I’m not going out, then I wear sweats all day. If I’m only running errands, then I’m in jeans and a T-shirt all day.

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I only dress up when I have to, and workplace attire is generally boring to me. But I also have almost no fancy events to go to, so I’m almost never actually dressed up.

While my boyfriend doesn’t request that I put on makeup or dress nicer, I know he does enjoy it. And maybe the time of year is too cold to be dressing elegant, but something simple isn’t too much to ask. I have a long sleeve T-shirt with lace shoulders, or a nice flowing top. It’s not too much trouble, and it’s nice to make the effort for each other. He doesn’t demand that I wear a dress or something nice, but I want to dress nice for him. And that makes it even more special.

Dressing up in something that your significant other loves on you or wearing a color they like is a small way to show you’re listening.

Or Dress Down…

A fun night in doesn’t hurt either. Instead of dressing up, think of seductive outfits to wear in. Surprise your significant other when they get home from work, or nonchalantly get dressed in something seductive in the morning. Or wear your lingerie underneath your sweats to offer a nice surprise when your significant other is least expecting it.

Maybe this is also skewed more for women… but men can do their part too!

Consider buying fun oils, or there are *strappy* outfits for men too. Get creative! There’s nothing wrong with being two consenting adults in a loving relationship having some adult fun. In fact, the physical relationship can be just as important as the emotional relationship. Remember that communication is important, and have some fun!

Send Them A Letter

There are two ways to do this one. One of them is the old-fashioned way of writing a letter and dropping it in the mailbox to send to that person. I have always loved an old-fashioned, hand-written letter. I even have a couple pen pals from high school, and one of them lives on the other side of town. But there is a wonderful joy in opening a handwritten letter. It’s worth sharing that joy with our significant other.

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The second way does not involve mailing the letters.

Whenever I’m traveling and not home for an extended time period, I write a bunch of letters for my boyfriend. They are designated to be opened at specific times, like “Open After Dropping Me Off At The Airport” or “Open When You’ve Had A Rough Day.” It’s a nice way of staying close when you’re not, and the joy is just as wonderful as receiving a mailed letter.

Show Affection

This may seem obvious, but think about it seriously.

Show affection.

It can be easy to forget about affection when things get routine and you are just moving through the motions of the day. You and your significant other may fall into the everyday steps of making breakfast, going to work, coming home, and then ending the day.

It’s all too easy.

But every so often, look at your significant other. Think about your feelings for him or her, and show affection.

Hold their hand. Give them a big hug. Cuddle and snuggle up. Tell them how happy you are to have them in your life. Remind them of how much they mean to you. Show them how much they mean to you in your actions. And even if you think they already know it, saying it out loud makes a huge impact.

What else do you do to intentionally appreciate your relationship? Comment below!