Improve My Relationship: 30 day Relationship challenge.
Daily tips to improve your relationship.
Directions: Read and complete one challenge per day (no cheating and skipping ahead). Check back each day to see what your next challenge will be for the following day. If your life is busy, then make this a 90 day challenge and do one activity every 3 days.
Day 1: Put on music and ask your partner to dance with you, even for just one song.
Often, in life, we get caught up in so much that is not important and we are left with very little time for things that are important. We begin to allow our relationships slip away as we get “plugged in” to our smart phones, our computer, our gaming device and other things that distract us from what matters to us. Some people tell me that getting plugged in often helps them relax from a stressful day or allows them to do no brainer type of activities. Today’s challenge doesn’t have to take a long time. You might put on music and ask for one dance. Showing your partner that you want to take 5 minutes out of your day to hold them can mean the world to them, especially if your relationship is struggling.
Day 2: Write your partner a note and hide it somewhere they are likely to find it.
If you already write notes, then SPICE IT UP. Use different colored markers to draw a heart or a picture of two stick people holding hands. Cut out the piece of paper in the shape of a heart. Write something that you don’t always get the opportunity to tell them. “I appreciate that you are there for me when I need you” (or something else you appreciate). You can make it a few words or a few sentences (or longer if you want) about what you appreciate about them or what they do for you.
Day 3: Ask your partner “what was your favorite part of the day today” and listen to their answer without interruption.
This is not something that you should be doing in passing. When you ask this, I want you to look them in the eyes, ask them your question, and then continue looking at them while you wait for the answer. Don’t pick up your smart phone, don’t start doing something else..just WAIT and listen.
Day 4: Make a point to say something nice about how they look
Make sure that this is not a backhanded compliment (a compliment that can be taken as a criticism). DON’T say “wow, you look nice, I wish you always did your hair like that”. Make sure to give the compliment and leave it at that (For example: “I really like how you did your hair today”). Yesterday in your challenge, you made a point to look at your partner in the eyes when you talk to them. Today look at them in the eyes AND touch them as you talk. Often people do not get thoughtful touches by their partner during their day that can make a difference. Not just the required hug or kiss when you go to bed, but holding their hand or rubbing their back while you talk, for example.
Day 5: Pick a flower and leave the flower with a note and leave it for them to find.
You don’t have to spend a ton of money to show that you love your partner. Although a nice dinner and roses are usually appreciated by people, don’t forget about the simple things. If you try to do “big things” too often, you will find you don’t have time or money to keep up the intimacy in your relationship. You can keep the flame going (or restart your flame) by doing simple things often.
Day 6: Write on your facebook page something you appreciate about your partner..or simply “I am so lucky to have (partner’s name) in my life”
If you don’t have facebook or another social media that you both belong to, you can send your partner a text or even repeat one of the previous challenges.
Most people appreciate public acknowledgement, and this can be a way to show your partner that you not only think of them, but you think highly of them.
At this point in the challenge, if you don’t begin to see some improvement in your relationship (even a tiny improvement), you may want to consider coming in for one or two sessions to figure out what is going on that you are not getting a response. Perhaps you are not picking up on cues of needs that your partner has, perhaps you and your partner are so distant that these appear to not be working, or perhaps your heart is not completely in it. Whatever you choose to do, continue with the challenge to see if you can get results on your own.
Day 7: Ask them out on a date. Send an EVITE/ECARD invitation or simply ask them..Once on the “date”, Treat it as though it is the first date..even if you live together, show up with flowers, knock on the door, and take them somewhere you know they would like to go. REMEMBER to open the car door (and other doors) for them, and pull out their chair at the restaurant. During the meal, ask them how their food is, ask them about their day, about if they want to the continue the date after dinner, and other things that you might have asked early on in your relationshp.
Day 8: Remind them of something nice they did for you that stands out in your mind (it could be when you were first dating).
Often we forget to tell our partners what we appreciate about them because we think they already know, or it doesn’t need to be said. This is where relationships can go wrong because we stop trying and we lose interest. Sometimes by reminding our partner about what we appreciate in them, we remind ourselves how lucky we are to have them.
Day 9: Write your partner a love letter.
It doesn’t have to be fancy (it can be, but doesn’t have to be). Focus on all the positive. If you have been upset at them or arguing a lot, DON’T put in the negative you feel. If you are with them, there has got to be something positive you can say about them.
Day 10: Have a movie night. Prepare by getting a few movies, getting popcorn and drinks…THEN Cuddle in front of the TV and watch the movie together. Make sure it is a movie THEY want to watch. If you are not sure what they would want to watch, sit down and look with them and allow them to be a part of the planning process.
Remember the skills you learned in earlier challenges. Make eye contact, touch your partner, and GET INTERESTED in what they are saying. Focus on them.
Day 11: Send an “ecard” telling them how much you love and/or appreciate them. It’s free, it’s easy, and it means the world to someone that you were thinking about them. You can keep it simple, or you can make it a long letter. Just make sure it comes from your heart and you stay positive.
Day 12: Think about one thing they have asked you to do differently..and change it. E.G. they have asked you to do the dishes or take out the trash. Make that one change from today on..make sure it is something YOU are willing to commit to. Sometimes you may get frustrated with your partner and not feel like doing it. Remember that relationships take work, and the more work you put in, the stronger your foundation can be, and the more likely you will reap the benefits later (being happy, seeing your partner happy).
If you are not seeing a difference in them based on things that you are doing differently, you can come in to talk about if there is something you are doing wrong in this process. Perhaps you need some tips on changing your body language, your tone, or underlying issues that get in your way of being effective in this relationship challenge.
Day 13: Cook dinner (or order out if you are a horrible cook) for your partner today. Put out some candles on the table (you can get candles at the dollar store if money is tight) to set the mood. Make it special: turn on music, pick some flowers, or think of something you might have done early on in your relationship and re-create it.
Day 14: Leave a “coupon” for one free massage (expiration date: TODAY)..better use it quick! You can get massage oil or not, you can light candles or burn incense to set the mood if that is something your partner would like. Remember that this is about THEM so don’t expect anything in return.
Day 15: Stop your partner several times today and Look your partner in the eyes and tell them “I love you” or “I appreciate you”. Sometimes we forget to do these things, and often it is the “little things” in a relationship that make it work. When all the little things are in place, often couples can deal with the bigger issues because they feel like a team.
Day 16: Ask your partner to cuddle. Sit on the couch or lay in bed, but just cuddle. If the mood is right, ask them about their day and/or week. Ask them what could have made it better.
Day 17: Ask your partner about their day and LISTEN (give them eye contact, put down your smartphone and computer and smile)
- Have a picnic. Even if it is cold outside, you can have a picnic inside by putting out a blanket on your living room (or bedroom floor) and hang out.
Day 18: Make your partner Breakfast in bed. Pick a day that is convenient for them where they don’t have to rush or be somewhere and bring them breakfast. Even if they are not a big breakfast person, bringing them cereal and eating together in bed can be special. The idea is not to WOW them, but to show them that you are thinking about them.
Day 19: Ask them what their idea of a “truly romantic evening” is. Then, MAKE IT HAPPEN. You can improvise. If they say “an evening in Paris”..you can print out pictures of landmarks in Paris and hang them up..learn a French phrase that you can share with them.
Day 20: Do body art together. Go to the store..get body paint (washable) and paint each other’s bodies. Get paper and make your own body art (after you are painted, lay down on the paper next to each other on the paper and stand up to see what you both look like). If you aren’t at the “getting naked” part of your relationship…. Have a game night. Ask them to pick out a game and play it (even cards). Remember to engage with them verbally. Don’t talk about problems, talk about good things. If they want to talk about difficult issues, you can ask them, “is it okay if we make time to talk about that issue, as it is very important, but I just want to enjoy your company right now?”
Day 21: Write something flattering about them in a journal and share it with them. Make sure it is true and genuine.
Day 22: Think back to a time you were wrong..and apologize for it. Regardless if it was a week ago or 10 years ago, let them know that you are willing to look at your wrong doings and are open to trying to make it better, if needed.
Day 23: Make a list of 5 qualities you like about them and leave it for them in the form of a note OR you can read it to them. It can be “I like your hair”, “I like how you look when you are sleeping”, “I like the way you are a parent to our kids”..It can be ANYTHING that YOU like about them. If you are having trouble thinking of 5 qualities, things might be pretty bad in your relationship and it might be time to think of getting professional help.
Day 24: Make a list of 5 reasons they make you a better person..and leave it for them in the form of a note OR read it to them. If you have been arguing and are having a difficult time in your relationship, think back to when you were happier and see if any of those things still apply.
Day 25: Mail them a “message in a bottle”. Write a note to them, put it in a bottle, put the top on the bottle, put a “to” and “from” on the outside of the bottle, and go to the post office and mail the bottle. If money is tight..leave the box in front of their door where the mail carrier might have otherwise left it (you can draw fake stamps if you want).
There are only a few days left in this relationship challenge. If you and your partner are not able to talk without fighting or don’t seem closer because of this process, come in alone or together to get some individualized strategies that might help your relationship improve.
Day 26: Mail their parent(s) a “thank you” note thanking them for raising such an amazing child. When your partner hears about it from their parent, they will be grateful. If your partners parents are no longer living, or not in their lives, then write your partner a thank you note thanking them for being such an amazing person. Make this an annual event that you do on every one of their birthdays or your anniversary.
Day 27: Give your partner a compliment (on their hair, or clothes, or smile, or something you like). Remember to make eye contact, smile, and say it like you mean it. Don’t go right back to playing on your phone or the computer after, allow them to leave the situation first. If after the compliment, they continue with eye contact, ask them how they are doing, ask them how their day was, ask them ANYTHING (as long as it is positive).
Day 28: Send your partner a text or email telling them that you cannot focus today because you cannot get your mind off of them..tell them how lucky you are to have this problem. You can tell them things you are thinking about if you want. Keep it simple.
Day 29: Ask them to tell you a story about their childhood, and LISTEN. Don’t ask them and then answer the phone when it rings, don’t start playing on your mobile device. PAY ATTENTION to what they are saying!! After, you can tell them something you thought was cute or interesting about their story.
Day 30: Get out your digital calendar or phone. Write a reminder in there 1 month AND 1 week before your partners birthday and 1 month AND 1 week before your anniversary (if you are not married/partnered, write down the anniversary of the day you met). THEN when you get the reminder, start leaving hints so they know you remember that their birthday/anniversary is coming up. (go to #32)
Okay, so now the challenge is done. How do you feel? Do you believe that your relationship is any better than when you started? If so, that is great..keep it up. If not, I would highly recommend trying out therapy to see if there are underlying issues that need to be worked on. A therapist can teach you about how to improve your communication so that you can work on improving your relationship. Chances are, if you finished this challenge, you really love your partner and you want it to work. Sometimes, there are little “kinks” that need to be worked out in your relationship. Perhaps there are bigger issues that need to be handled. Regardless of how big or small your issues seem, what you have tried thus far hasn’t worked and talking to someone who is trained in improving relationships might be the next step. If your partner doesn’t want to go to therapy with you, you can always go in alone. Sometimes your partner will see you trying and it will inspire them to come in as well. Sometimes you coming in alone will be enough to work on your relationship. Sometimes, you find that you have done all the work and your partner is not trying and you may need to re-evaluate your expectations for the relationship. Whatever the case may be, support of a knowledgeable therapist can often help. If you mention this “relationship challenge” when you call, you can come in for a free session to get ideas on how to improve your relationship and/or yourself.
Look back at the last 30 days. Write down the 15-20 things you liked the best and do one thing every week. SET A REMINDER IN YOUR PHONE OR EMAIL that will remind you to “do my monthly challenge today” so you will never forget. Often, we get complacent in our relationship and we lose interest. Setting reminders for yourself will help you keep your relationship alive and healthy.
- Lose a fight/disagreement ON PURPOSE and let it go.
- Ask them to tell you a story about their childhood
- Make a big deal out of something they did today
- Randomly ask your partner “what are you thinking about”..often we think of the most random things that are sometimes quite silly
- send them a card that you made by hand for them