Ways to build a better bond

Give your long-term relationship a pick-me-up  
Relationships ebb and flow. At the start of a new relationship, you can’t imagine not feeling this way about each other. But a few months down the line, once the rose-tinted glasses have slipped, you may start to feel a lot less in tune. 
This happens in every relationship, and it’s an inevitable factor of intimacy. No-one can keep up the blissful enthusiasm of those early weeks and months. The trick is recognising that you’re not growing apart, but getting to know each other as you really are. You need to nurture the bond that seemed so easy when you first got together. 
Here are some ways for you and your partner to demonstrate your love, appreciation and understanding. You’ll soon realise that your bond is at least as strong as it was in those intoxicating early months. 

1. Stare into each other’s eyes
All good flirts know the bewitching power of eye contact. It makes you feel connected with another person in a very intimate way, far more than conversation can.
Eye contact shouldn’t be left to good-looking strangers flirting across a room. It’s an excellent way of bonding with your own partner. Lie down on the bed and gaze into each other’s eyes for a couple of minutes. You can blink – it’s not a staring contest. But don’t talk, and don’t make any physical contact. Just look into each other’s eyes. You will feel a great deal closer for it.

2. Reminisce
Nostalgia is a delicious emotion, and shared nostalgia for the early days of your relationship can be an enjoyable bonding experience. Reminisce about how you met, chat about your first dates, remember the spark that drew you to each other. Don’t compare your current relationship unfavorably with those early days – instead, aim to recapture the excitement of your initial attraction.

3. Practice active listening
Do you ever feel that you’re talking without being heard? Your partner probably does, too. And do you ever feel that you’re being talked at, rather than talked to? Yep, your partner feels that as well.
You can make huge improvements in your communication by practicing active listening together. Active listening involves responding positively while your partner talks, with nods and positive feedback rather than with interruptions. Ask your partner to talk about something, then summarise what you think they said, and ask your partner to correct you if you misunderstood or left anything out. Then swap roles – you talk, your partner listens. 
After a few active listening sessions, you’ll both find that you feel better understood. Soon your conversations will feel less like battles for airtime and more like mutual communication.

4. Have a sex day
Sex matters because it’s a powerful way to feel attractive and express desire. Some doctors even claim that the more sex you have, the more you’ll want: regular sex produces hormones that boost your libido and romantic attachment.
You needn’t go as far as Charla Muller, who gave husband Brad a “birthday gift” of sex every day for one year. Instead we’d suggest dedicating one day exclusively to sex, including discussing each other’s fantasies. Turn off your phones and stay in bed all day, possibly in a hotel since it helps to separate you from the mundanities of everyday life.

5. Go on dates
If you only ever see each other at home, is it any wonder that your partner has become part of the furniture?
Get out and have fun together. Try somewhere new, revisit a date venue from years ago, or have a multi-venue date: an aperitif at a bar, dinner at your favourite restaurant and sweets in the cab home. Even going out for a walk together gives you a chance to chat, exercise and hold hands. It’s a much underrated mini-date.

6. Offer pressies and gestures
Don’t break the bank (especially if you share an account). The pressies with the greatest impact are often the cheaper ones that require thought and effort.
Boost the romantic value of your gift by sending it through the post. So what if you’re living together? Whether it’s a love letter, a book ordered online or a “treat pack” of mini pressies, its arrival by post will thrill your partner. 
Loving gestures don’t have to be pricey. Love notes are a timeless expression of romance. Write messages of love and appreciation, and leave them where your partner will find them – in the fridge, under their keyboard, wrapped around their toothbrush.

7. Pamper each other
Bonding with your partner is about showing them that they’re appreciated, and about understanding what makes them feel good. That doesn’t take a lot to achieve – simply have a hot bubble bath waiting for them when they come home from a hard day at work. Give them a massage after the bath, and let one thing lead to another.
Romance means looking after yourself, too. Marriage or a long-term relationship isn’t permission to let yourself go. You may be off the market, but you’ll still get a buzz (and self-respect) from looking good for your partner.

p.s. “I love you”
The first time you said those three little words, they meant everything. So don’t let them fade into silence, or save them for when you’ve had a fight. The bond between you is ultimately all about love, so don’t let those words be forgotten. Say “I love you” because you want to, and because you mean it.