We hack everything from our email productivity to our gas mileage.
But can we hack a relationship? And can we do it without killing the romance?
The answer—I think you’ll find—is a resounding yes. And even more than that you’ll find that the suggestions that follow aren’t hacks so much as they are common sense. They’re ways for you to remind your girlfriend, boyfriend, fiancée or spouse that they are valued above everything and everyone else in your life.
It’s when we become complacent, when we stop putting in the effort that relationships begin to unravel. So if hacking your relationship is about any single thing it’s about reminding yourself to be deliberate in every aspect of your relationship.
Here are a few ideas to get you started.
No, not that notebook. The idea here is that you keep a small notebook—maybe a Moleskine or something similar—that you add to daily. Or maybe just a few times per week.
The notebook will serve as a place to write little things about your significant other—something wonderful they said or did, somewhere they want to visit, or something they’d like to have. Write down the date next to each entry and keep it in a safe place.
Think of it like a journal for your relationship—somewhere you can keep intimate details about them that you’ll be happy to have later on.
Practice the walk-and-fight.
Aaron Sorkin may have popularized the walk-and-talk thanks to The West Wing but the walk-and-fight may be even more important at least for couples who want to work out their differences as civilly as possible.
Here’s the idea—anytime you feel a fight coming on don’t stay in the house. Instead, walk out the door together, take a walk and talk it over. You’re probably going to be amazed at how hard it is to hang on to your anger if you’re both literally and, hopefully, figuratively—walking in the same direction.
Date your significant other.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make once you get romantically involved with someone is letting the excitement die. Courting is a critically important step in learning what makes the other person happy and all too often we forget everything we’ve learned once we make the leap to move in together or get married.
So once or twice a week just go out on a date with your significant other. Take them to dinner or for a walk in the park. Buy them some flowers or maybe just their favorite candy bar.
Our youthful efforts at being romantic are little more than flailing gestures at winning approval. As adults we can be a little bit more deliberate about the whole thing.
Not in a Harry and the Hendersons sense but in a we all have our hangups sense. Your significant other is not a perfect person no matter how much you may be tempted to idolize them. But you know what? Their imperfections are even more obvious to them than they are to you.
Whenever we enter into a romantic relationship we bring with us a variety of emotional baggage and insecurities. Maybe we have body issues or maybe we have problems with expressing our emotions.
One of your jobs is to help your mate get over their hangups. It’s not going to happen overnight but little gestures here and there are going to really make a difference—go out of your way to help them feel more comfortable in their own skin. They may not thank you with their words but they won’t need to.
Share the responsibility.
What you may find after you’ve been together for a while is that you and your significant other may fall into certain rhythms. Maybe one of you always takes out the trash or one of you does most of the cooking.
If you happen to naturally fall into a routine that’s comfortable and egalitarian, that’s awesome. If, however, you take a long look at it and you find that one of you is doing more of the heavy lifting there may be some unresolved tension or resentment.
Unless you’re certain you’ll burn the house down take your turn in the kitchen a couple times a week. Or change the cat litter. Or just do some small things around the house that need doing. Again you may not get verbal thanks 100% of the time but you can bet they noticed.
Get creative together.
I’ll draw this to a close with a suggestion to indulge your inner artist. The important thing to remember about this is that you don’t have to have prodigious talent to get creative. Creativity is nothing more or less than creating and the final product doesn’t have to be amazing.
Because there’s nothing better than creating something with your best friend.
Paint a picture or build something or just rearrange the furniture together. Expressing yourself creatively is one of the most satisfying things you can do and it’s even better with a partner.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these suggestions. Remember—if you can reduce these 800+ words to something easily digested it’s this:
Don’t get lazy. Love is a labor of love.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock
Photos: Joan Marcus