Frequently, couples come in to counseling feeling lonely and disconnected. They tell me that they don't talk or connect much during the course of an average day. I think this is a real issue, but their thresholds for what they consider "connected" may not be reasonable. When you're not in the honeymoon stage anymore and instead in "monotogamy," it's tough to feel that spark or constant unspoken (or spoken) level of intimacy and connection. Kids can make this even worse; they interrupt conversations, need things all the time, and even all their sweet cuddling can leave parents (especially moms) feeling "touched out."
The positive news is that it doesn't actually take that much time to rekindle feelings of closeness. But it does take intentionality and commitment to taking a small amount of time each day to maintain or rebuild your connection. Since you guys really liked my 100 date night questions post, I will now give you 100 small ways to show your partner you love him or her, and to increase feelings of connection and intimacy. Share with your partner and check off which ones you would each like. Or just keep the list to yourself and use some of these ideas as surprises. (For bonus points, figure out your partner's Love Language and tailor your activity choices to their love language.)
1. Send your partner an e-card, like from someecards.com.
2. When you're filling up your car with gas, run into the Mini Mart and buy your partner their favorite snack.
3. Pack your partner's lunch.
4. Put a note in your partner's bag or coat pocket.
5. Clean your partner's car, inside or outside.
6. Initiate sex.
7. Find a movie that your partner would really like and watch it together.
8. Compliment your partner in front of the kids/other people.
9. Email your partner a happy memory of your life together.
10. Get a picture of you and your partner framed for his/her desk or nightstand.
11. Email your partner a selfie. Clothing optional. Can also be funny. Well, if it's naked, don't make it funny. Otherwise, you can make it funny.
12. Call or visit someone your partner wishes you were closer to, e.g., one of their parents.
13. Tell your partner about the nicest thing they did for you today.
14. French kiss your partner.
15. Bring your partner a special drink from Starbucks.
16. Bake something for your partner.
17. Buy your partner a bottle of champagne to celebrate a random anniversary (the day you moved into your house? The day you bought your betta fish? Your 10.5-year anniversary?).
18. Draw your partner a stick figure picture of the two of you. Make it funny.
19. Write your partner a list of their most attractive qualities.
20. Tell everyone to leave the last piece of dessert for your partner, instead of giving it to the kids.
21. Take a walk together.
22. Put on your wedding song or a song that is meaningful to both of you.
23. Shower together.
24. Decide to learn more about something your partner is into, like their hobby or exercise or books they are reading.
25. Book a babysitter, as a surprise.
26. Research new restaurants that your partner would like.
27. Make your partner a hot breakfast.
28. Give your partner a big hug.
29. Go in late to work and get coffee with your partner at a cafe.
30. Come home during nap time, if your partner stays home with the kids. Bring chocolate.
31. Hang a banner to welcome your partner home. Even just from work.
32. Write a Facebook status about how great your partner is. Ignore haters.
33. Find a picture from when you and your partner first met, and leave it where he/she can find it as a surprise.
34. Buy new clothes for yourself that you know your partner would like on you.
35. Buy new clothes for your partner that are in the style they like (not what you want them to like).
36. Buy or make your partner a cookie shaped like a heart.
37. When the kids annoy your partner, intercept and get them onto another floor of the house doing a quiet activity. (Unless you're Super Nanny, this means TV.)
38. Share a sexual fantasy with your partner via text.
39. Plan an activity you would generally do with kids, but do it with your partner only. Like, a corn maze or a zoo.
40. Buy your partner a few lottery tickets for fun.
41. Send your partner a letter through the mail.
42. Give your partner a massage.
43. Make the bed the way your partner prefers it.
44. Leave a Post-it on your partner's computer, saying something nice.
45. Tell your partner why you are lucky to have him or her.
46. Let your partner pick the TV show.
47. Sing a song into your partner's voicemail. Then text them not to delete without listening.
48. Have the kids make a special picture for your partner.
49. Serve your partner first at dinner, not the ravenous animals, I mean, kids.
50. Tell your partner a way that knowing them has improved you as a person.
51. IM your partner a cheesy joke that will make him/her laugh.
52. Ask what your partner's favorite meal is, and make it.
53. Buy your partner a new one of whatever they have that is wearing out. Pair of gloves? Hat? Bag?
54. Dance around the living room with your partner.
55. Ask your partner how they always deal so well with X situation that overwhelms you.
56. Ask your partner to teach you something that they know and you don't, e.g., how to bake brownies, how to trade stocks, how to ski, how to remember the kids' schedules (ha ha).
57. Do a striptease for your partner. Bonus if you're a guy and it's a funny one.
58. Find and display a childhood photo of your partner that makes you smile.
59. Research places for you and your partner to take a trip without the kids, even if this will be in 10 years.
60. Research places for you and your partner to retire, and send them the links to check them out.
61. Hit on your partner in a public place as though he/she is a stranger.
62. Buy your partner cologne or perfume, if they wear it.
63. Surprise your partner at work with a food delivery for lunch if they are having a bad day.
64. Ask your partner to play a board game with you tonight.
65. Put a Hershey's kiss in your partner's lunch.
66. Write a haiku for your partner.
67. Make an appointment for a massage for your partner (if they like massages done by others).
68. Figure out a secret code word with your partner that means "I want to have sex tonight." Use in public.
69. 69. Too easy.
70. Get your partner a book that they would like but that they haven't read yet. Just go to Amazon and type in their favorite book and see what else Amazon recommends that's similar. Amazon = omniscient.
71. Go to your neighborhood Paint a Pot place and paint pottery together.
72. Go to your closest Arthur Murray and take a trial ballroom dancing lesson.
73. Go bowling.
74. Bring home three bottles of wine and create a wine tasting for your partner. Actually I should have made this one #68 because if you finish all three bottles, you might be up to 69.
75. Clean the refrigerator, if you're the spouse that never ever does this.
76. Donate some stuff, if you're the almost-a-hoarder partner.
77. Send your partner a link to a YouTube video of a romantic song or a band that they like.
78. Send your partner a picture of a cute animal.
79. Plan a day out that you and your partner can look forward to, in a few weeks or even months.
80. Replace your partner's toothbrush for them.
81. Get your partner a mug that says World's Best Husband/Wife/Boyfriend/Girlfriend.
82. Tell your partner that you were talking with your coworkers and you realized you have the best partner of any of them.
83. Make a tally of the number of times you think about your partner during the day and present him/her with the piece of paper later that evening.
84. Call your partner "my beautiful/handsome husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend" in normal conversation.
85. If your partner likes crafting, craft with them. Even if you're a guy and we're talking scrapbooking here.
86. Have a stay-date where you put out candles, wine, cheese, and crackers after the kids go to bed and turn on music.
87. If you're not the partner who cares the most about household tasks, say, "I want to do whatever project you want me to do tonight. Just tell me what to do and I'll do it."
88. Write down five things you thought about your partner when you were first getting to know him/her, and leave this as a surprise note.
89. Buy your partner whatever you were going to get him/her for Christmas on some random day instead. Then get something else for Christmas, even if it's small.
90. Try out some of that weird stuff in the condom aisle at Rite Aid.
91. Collect what needs to be dry cleaned in your partner's closet and get it dry cleaned.
92. Compliment your partner, something that isn't physical.
93. Compliment your partner, something that is physical.
94. Make your partner a hot chocolate.
95. Make your partner a hot toddy.
96. Figure out your partner's spirit animal and send them a picture of it. I have no idea what I mean by this but I know it would make a funny email.
97. Learn how to say, "I want to sleep with you" in a different language and say it to your partner.
98. Buy your partner whatever candy they liked most as a kid.
99. Exercise with your partner.
100. Send this list to your partner and ask which would be their favorite.
Till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Never, Ever, Runs Out of Ideas.