Relationships are tough.
There is little that can prepare us for the complexity you can feel trying to fuse your life with another human being. Despite romantic comedies that repeat the same predictable arc that is always overcome within the 90 minute plotline, it doesn't mirror the ups and downs of our real love lives whatsoever.
Sometimes it's a joy! You're learning new things, feeling invigorated by the presence of another person and their life views, and excited about the adventures that lie ahead. While other times, it can feel suffocating when your plans don't match, or stagnating when you're stuck on loop in the same old pattern/rut. Sometimes it's just plain frustrating when you almost 'fall in' because your partner has left the toilet seat up again.
Here at The Travel, we lean towards the hopeless romantic category. We believe that before you throw in the towel that you should try a few simple ideas to pump up the romance and your connection. Oftentimes it's not that our relationship is doomed, it's our perspective that can be coloured by life-stress that makes it seem like a drag. We're fairly confident that if you can take a few moments each week to make time for the activities listed below, whether it's while you're visiting family over the holidays, on a vacation, or just kicking around at home, that you'll start to remember why you chose each other in the first place.
25 Go For A Swing
There's the dirty dishes in the sink, the dog needs walking, the bills are piling up - you're working late again tonight?! It's SO easy to get bogged down by daily stress and become inundated by 'adulting' that you forget what it was like to be childlike and carefree. The more that you can try to revisit that place of innocence, the easier it is to let the daily tasks roll off your shoulders a bit more.
What could be a more perfect metaphor for breaking away from domestic duties than swinging up high into the treetops?! Almost every city has a park with swings so all you have to do is find one and plant yourselves on the swings and away you go. Not only will you feel a sense of ease wash over you but you'll remember that fun is a key quotient to enjoying your day to day together.
24 Send Your Partner A Just 'Cause Gift
Is there any better feeling than seeing someone you love receive a thoughtful gift and watching a big smile creep over their face. We don't think so. This is a great idea because it doesn't even have to be store-bought! If you are doing it with the right intention, that's all that matters.
This can be particularly crucial after a rocky period, a fight, or just during a stressful period. It shows your partner that you care and more importantly that you are paying attention. Some ideas could include a scrapbook of some of your best memories, a batch of homemade cookies, or a framed list of all their best qualities or their favourite candies. Add hearts, pop it in the mail and feel good knowing that you've just made their day.
23 Plan A Surprise Scavenger Hunt
This is the ultimate move if you want to immerse your partner in a thoughtful experience filled with excitement, mystery, and fun! It takes a bit more planning on your behalf, but you'll feel so warm and wonderful during the many stages that it's totally worth it.
The first step is determining how long you want your hunt to last and the radius of search area. From there you will write out a few clues that lean on the side of obvious and encapsulate your memories. For example, the restaurant where you had your first date, the park bench where you split your pants that time, your favourite shop to dig for records, etc. Then you work on the logistics of clue planting and get some collaborators in on it with you to protect the clues. They can be strangers, friends, or family- when you share the purpose of your hunt, everyone will be radiating with positivity and happy to help you.
22 Make It a Spa Day
When you take time for a little self-love and pampering, it can take your love vibes up from a 4 to a 9 real quick. The best part of a DIY spa is that it doesn't cost very much since many of the items you already possess or can find at neighbourhood shops so it's no fuss.
You can make a nice hot bath and add some homemade bath salts. Just take some sea salt and add a few drops of lavender or rosemary oil, baking soda and you're good to go! Light a few tea lights around the house to create a low-key atmosphere all day. Have your kettle on and brew some nice herbal teas like chamomile, chai, or whatever makes you feel coziest. Bust out your bathrobes and slippers and lounge in them with your book in hand. The cherry on top is the relaxing playlist you conjure up on Spotify that is softly playing in the background.
21 Cozy Up to a Story
In an era where Netflix dominates as the prescribed way to spend an evening with your boo, reading out loud to each other may seem a bit strange. That said, after the first hesitation, you'll soon wonder how you didn't think of this incredible bonding experience sooner.
To listen to the voice of another person for a prolonged period of time creates an atmosphere of safety and calm. Right before bed when we're winding down and preparing for our dreamstate, there can be a soothing quality to hearing the person you love softly sharing a story. After long, you'll be bringing your books everywhere eager to share with one another.
20 Put Together A Picnic
Simple, elegant, serene- picnics are great because they are totally custom to your wishes. A picnic can be as simple as a big blanket, a pack of cards, some fruit, a baguette and cheese. They can be more elaborate involving bubbles, charcuterie, preserves and other bits and bobs. They can be more activity focused with a frisbee, your furry friend, and some fabulous deli sandwiches - you get the picture.
Essentially it's an easy way to cater to your mood and enjoy nature together. Away from the hustle and bustle, you can get down to basics and follow your bliss in the way that many have for decades.
19 Make a Mixtape for Their Daily Commute
There are few gestures that can show greater detail of thought and make a significant impact on one's mood like a well-curated mixtape can. Yes, we know, no one uses tapes (or even CDs for that matter!) but you can copy a mixtape USB like the one above OR send them a link to a playlist named after them - it's the music not the medium that matters most here.
Whether it's a walk down memory lane, the latest release of their favourite band, or just some pumped up sing along songs that they can belt out along with to release stress en route home from work - a mixtape is just the ticket.
18 Cook Up a New Recipe Together
Cooking is as tasty as creativity can get! Rather than placing the pressure on one partner to make a romantic dinner this is much more of a collaborative team effort. You can delegate the roles depending on who selected the recipe. Or maybe one person is whipping up the main course and the other is focusing on solely on dessert and selecting the right wine.
By creating a role for each person it encourages that person to take ownership and feel a sense of pride in their contribution. The best part is when all the work is done, you can enjoy it together!
17 Work Out
Working out in tandem is a fantastic way to let off steam, get your endorphins and blood pumping, and take control of your energy levels. It's also a nice way to catch up with each other's day rather than being plonked down on the couch staring at your screens. You become in tune with one another and are each other's motivator which increases your emotional bond.
With a routine in place you become practiced in being accountable to one another for your wellness. When you start to look and feel better it can also ramp up other areas of the relationship, which is an excellent byproduct for any couple in a rut.
16 Complete a DIY project
Rather than nagging at one another to complete tasks around the house it can be far more fun and meaningful to think of creative DIY solutions for every day fixes. No one is saying you should experiment with a DIY fix for a burst pipe but if you need a new shelf built or are sick of lugging out your plastic Christmas tree each year, it can be fun to brainstorm innovative ways to spruce (ha) up the house.
There is a great sense of satisfaction to creating something together that can surely benefit most any couple. You'll be reminded of that satisfaction every time you walk past your creation too.
Karaoke is a fantastic way to let off some steam! Singing stimulates your brain, releases endorphins that relieve stress and make you feel good, helps with communicating emotions, builds confidence and is just plain fun.
If you're not into the idea of the full out karaoke bar scene, you can book a private room or even get rock band for your living room. Even if you sing terribly, these physical benefits are all still part and parcel of singing so if you can sacrifice a little pride - it can be a really healthy and liberating exercise en deux.
14 Take a Class
We know what you're thinking - it's impossible to find a skill that you both want to dedicate yourselves to but if you take some time to peruse the options you would be surprised at how many interesting classes exist. When you learn something together, especially on a regular basis, it gives you a break from the mundane routine of your 9-5 and general boredom that can strike in long term partnerships.
It allows you to be light and enjoy an activity while providing a new avenue for bonding. Some ideas include a cooking class, rock climbing, learning an instrument or learning to play tennis - you can even try them all!
13 Play A Game
Any game! It could be a card game, a puzzle, a homemade game that you create together - play is an essential part of life that is often branded as just for kids. There is a reason why board game cafes exist! It's a great way for people to get together and enjoy time together. You can even make it a couple's night and invite your friends over for a friendly match.
Trivia games like Taboo can also provide a catalyst for knowing more about how your partner thinks and feels about situations. It's fun and educational all centered around a stronger bond for you both- game on!
12 Go Dancing
Some of the greatest love stories ever have evolved from dancing! Think Dirty Dancing and Silver Linings Playbook. But no one is saying you have to strap on flamenco outfits and start twirling each other in the air. You can even enjoy a casual pre-dinner dance party in the kitchen. Allowing yourself to lose control and not care about how silly you look but rather enjoying some loud music that you love, is a great way to shake off any existing tensions.
Allowing yourself to be seen in a vulnerable light is good for your relationship and is something that each partner should work towards.
11 Build a Snow/Blanket Fort
Remember how good it felt to build that DIY spice rack out of repurposed wood? Well, this has all the same satisfaction but it's so much easier! You don't need any tools or special know-how just some snow and/or blankets and chairs and the will to succeed. If you're building a snow fort, you can take intermissions to make snow angels, snowmen, and sip hot cocoa.
If you're going the blanket fort route, you'll be able to keep it up all weekend and can even screen movies from inside (provided you have built a sufficiently pillowy base). The sky is really the limit when you double up on your creativity.
10 People Watch Over Brunch
There can be no greater joy than admiring the quirks and eccentricities of complete strangers as you take in a sumptuous breakfast with your whole weekend ahead of you. In the warmer months this can be done from a patio or the local farmer’s market with the sun shining down on you as you admire the giddy early morning shoppers whirl past with your coffee and croissant in hand.
In the cooler seasons, you can still find plenty of amusement within the bustling brunch hours of your favourite restaurant. Make up backstories for the people at other tables- the more ludicrous the better and relish in your hilarious fantasies.
Who knows, they might even be doing the same of you too!
9 Take a Staycation
As you may have guessed we are all for a fabulous getaway to have awesome experiences in other parts of the world but sometimes that can be adding a lot of stress and pressure to an already fragile time in your relationship. The desire for escapism can sometimes overshadow the fact that we can have a pretty dandy time just hanging around in our own backyard.
Whether you are literally just hanging around in your backyard beneath blankets with a bottle of wine, or exploring something in your city for the first time - a staycation can have the same effect as a vacay abroad but with less stress.
8 Paint Something
Some couples will benefit from taking a time out to do something totally abstract like painting. Unlike a focused DIY project, this can be a way to explore some quiet contemplation and explore some colour therapy. Sure, by the end you could have created a masterpiece! But even if it’s just for the simple purpose of stilling your mind, painting can be a powerful relaxant. Dollar stores often carry canvases of all sizes and acrylic paints in most basic colours for no more than a couple of bucks. If you fancy something more social there are also organized group wine and paint nights in most every city where you can meet new couples and friends! In either case, there’s no need to be self-conscious or aim for perfection as it is most definitely the journey not the destination that will benefit you the most.
7 Compete Against Each Other
Competing in an open, safe, and fun way can take out some of the hidden tensions that are likely to exist in every relationship (even the non-romantic kind!). By joining an amateur baseball league, volleyball team, or even warming up the Playstation, it gives you this particular space to get it all out there. Of course, it’s all in good fun so you will want to make sure you’re not bringing the outside issues into this lighthearted activity but even if they do come up, it may be the very thing that helps you address it and move on altogether.
6 DIY Massage
For any couple that’s budgeting or not able to go all out on a spa weekend, it can be tempting to forego these important aspects of wellness. By performing a massage on your loved one you may learn more about them by simply being focused on them. Do they have sore spots? Are they holding more tension than usual in their shoulders? This can prompt you to consider what might be going on beneath the surface and help you to show support.
DIY massage oil is also super easy to make, using bio almond oil or even coconut oil from the kitchen cabinet with a few drops of your favourite essential oil, you have an awesome, nourishing remedy that will bring you both comfort and deeper connection.
5 Bring them breakfast in bed
This is a popular go-to especially after an argument. How many times have we thought to show our partner a little extra TLC by making their favourite chocolate chip pancakes or bacon and eggs. The truth is, pampering your partner is the best possible thing you can do in times of difficulty. If you give them and yourself this space to relax and just be together it helps to slow time and shed some of those nagging issues that can easily bog down the weekend. Use this time to be phone-free and maybe bring a crossword or quiz into the equation that prompts some interesting conversations and discoveries.
If your partner isn’t a breakfast person, even a simple cup of bedside java can mean the world and have the same loving effect.
4 Have An Old School Sleepover
Adulting often means that you collectively peel off your clothes after a long week, flick open your favourite food app and eagerly anticipate a night of naughty food and nothingness. Instead, why not create the same kind of excitement you had when you were a kid having a sleepover with your best friend? In a lot of ways your partner is your bestie so why not surprise them with a stack of DVDs from their favourite director/genre/actor, all your favourite snacks and matching cozy pjs.
Silence your phones and indulge in a movie marathon, just the two of you, with a chocolate sundae bar at intermission. No pretence needed.
3 Daily Hugs Do The Trick
The one thing many struggling couples forget is just how important human touch is. A lot of times if you’re arguing non-stop, things can feel forced and that makes it everyone feel even worse. If you start with a daily hug, it can help you bring back that connection little by little. The best time could be when you arrive home from work, taking 30 seconds to share a big hug or even a before-bed cuddle.
By making time to connect physically for a few seconds, you communicate non-verbally a kind of loving support that every partnership needs.
2 Write them a love letter
When you’re in a rut with your partner it can seem like every little thing they do is annoying. What can be a personal challenge is to reframe the things you take for granted as true acts of kindness. Did they remember to clean off your car for you in the morning?
Were the dishes all done when you came into the kitchen making your morning a little less hectic? Small acts of service often go unnoticed within theses slumps but by highlighting your gratitude it encourages more of them.
Slip a little note into their lunch box saying 'thanks for walking the dog so I could sleep a little longer'. Or leave a sticky note on the mirror with just hearts and x's and o's. It seems silly, but a small thing could totally make their whole day a lot better.
1 Volunteer together
If you’re feeling particularly irritable a great solution is to sign up to volunteer together. Whether it’s at the food bank, a soup kitchen, or even with an organization that supports a cause that you both feel moved by, it can help to understand all the amazing things you have to be grateful for in your life and your relationship. There is something really awesome about seeing the person you love in this setting doing something to help others. By seeing your partner in this new light it can help to diffuse any preexisting irritability, or at least make issues seem less monumental.