Five ways to reconnect with your partner
It's easy to take one another for granted when you've been together for years. If you're worried that you're growing apart or would just like to feel closer to your partner, here are five ways to reconnect and strengthen your relationship.
See also: Six ways to have more sex over 50
See also: How to have more orgasms as you age
1. Be a cheerleader
No, we're not suggesting you dress up in a skimpy outfit and wave your pompoms around - though no one's stopping you! Being a cheerleader means being your partner's biggest supporter. You might not share their ambitions, hobbies or interests, but loving someone means wanting them to be happy and do well. So show some interest, be enthusiastic, and celebrate your partner's achievements – and always talk about them with pride to others.
Why should you, if your spouse doesn't do the same for you? With time, your partner will hopefully appreciate your change in attitude and be more likely to reciprocate. And if they don't, give them a nudge and explain why it would mean so much if they backed you more – giving examples of things they might do or say that you would appreciate (without criticising or attacking). Being one another's biggest supporters will help you to feel part of a team – even if your agendas and ambitions are different.
2. Talk about the things that matter
Poor communication is the number one cause of relationship problems according to the experts. The days of chatting for hours on end and getting to know one another may be long gone – but don't underestimate the importance of talking.
If there's something you're unhappy about, sitting your partner down and having "a talk" may not get the results you want. Likewise, going out for a meal may not be the best way to get your spouse to open up. Both signal "now we're going to talk," which only adds more pressure to the situation.
Most couples find it easiest to talk when there's no pressure, such as during a long car or train journey. If your partner is particularly non-communicative, talk to them about the things that interest them (which may be the football results), before trying to move the conversation to more emotional topics.
3. Make time to talk
Sometimes, having a busy schedule can mean you don't spend much time together. Even if you're retired, family and social commitments, different hobbies, and even different bedtimes can mean you don't talk as much as you'd like.
You don't need to rejig your schedules entirely, just make the effort to meet in the middle. For example, you might lie down with your wife for 20 minutes before she goes to sleep, then get up and carry on watching TV. Spending just a few minutes re-connecting can help you to feel close again.
Having a daily ritual can help – could you always have breakfast together, meet at 4pm for tea, or watch the news in the evening? Doing something regularly – whether that's a morning coffee or a Saturday date night - helps you to bond and gives you both something to look forward to.
4. Take up something new together
Run out of things to talk about? Take up something new together. Whether its archery, ballroom dancing or painting, doing a course together can give you something to talk about. If you have very different interests and can't decide, choose something that's completely new to you both.
5. Careful how you criticise
When you live with someone, there are always going to be things they do that annoy you – and things you do that annoy them. But when you moan and complain, those niggles can soon add up to a lot of negative feeling and create a distance between you.
Before you criticise your partner, start by appreciating them. For example, you might say. "Thanks for doing all the laundry, it's great to have it all done ready for the weekend - but would you mind not putting my jumper in with normal whites next time."
If you need to have a moan, consider doing it after you've handed them a cup of tea or while giving them a back rub. No one likes to be criticised, so choose your words carefully.
6. Do household chores together
Doing the household chores together will help you feel part of a team, and also help to prevent arguments about who does what.
Rather than divide up jobs, think about tackling a room of the house each week, put some cheerful music on and do it together. You might even find that it becomes fun!