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12 Smart Ways to Bring the Spark Back Into Your Relationship

Relationship ruts are normal - we've all been there. They are incredibly frustrating and isolating, not to mention that fact that constant fighting can wreak havoc on your relationship. A number of studies have shown that long-term satisfaction in a relationship depends on a few key factors, including: thinking positively about one another, thinking about each other when apart, being affectionate toward one another, sharing new and challenging activities together, as well as generally being happy in both individual and shared lives. It goes without saying that love making plays an important role in a relationship too.

While in theory, it all sounds great, the truth is that no relationship elicits feelings of pure bliss all the time, in fact most couples do go through periods of lesser and greater intimacy. Yet while there is no official definition or time frame for relationship lulls, the general signs of being in a rut include a lot of fighting, being bored and a lack of passionate interest. So, how can you bring the spark back into your relationship? Here are 12 ways to bring your relationship back to peak satisfaction: 
The Boredom Rut

1. Create a couple's bucket list
Doing so may entice you to try exciting, new activities together. Come up with a list of things you want to do together as a couple. Your activities may be more on the playful side, such as horse riding, or something a little more simple, such as preparing dinner together once a week. Once you've come up with your list, choose three items and be sure to tackle them over the next three months. 
2. Make time for mini dates
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Especially if you are both too busy for a weekly date night. You can try eating breakfast together, or meeting for lunch. You may also designate 20 minutes every evening for talking to one another, ensuring that there are no distractions. 
The Fighting Rut
3. Communicate your needs with one another
Bottling up your thoughts and emotions can decrease personal emotional well-being and relationship satisfaction. In addition, when your needs aren't being met, the chances of infidelity and decreased satisfaction go up. Take some time to share with your partner what you need from a relationship - be it emotional support or splitting the grocery bill. 
4. Express what you like about each other
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While your own needs are important, those of your partner are equally important. Express appreciation through positive feedback as often as possible. Doing so can help both of you feel more attractive and confident. To get you started, sit down and make a list of things you like about your partner, then share them with one another. 
5. Open up about your relationship with other people
It can be beneficial to talk through your problems with people outside the relationship. Hearing how others deal with similar situations can give us ideas on how to change our own approach, which may change the outcome of the conflict.
6. Handle disagreements better
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Practice forgiveness and learn not to judge one another. Doing so will entice more positive relationship emotions and boost your satisfaction. To prevent future arguments, it can help to remember that it's less important to solve a conflict than to treat each other well. 
The Sexless Rut
7. Create a fantasy jar
Write out as many fantasies as you can think of, each on a separate piece of paper and put them in a jar. Take turns to pick out of the jar, acting out the fantasies. 
8. Non-sexual touch is just as important
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Small actions such as hugs, massages and an arm around the waist can help boost feelings of affection too.
9. Message one another when you are apart
Put sex on the schedule, especially if you are too busy for spontaneous sex. Once you've arranged a schedule, build anticipation for fun times later in the day. Communicate via text messages or  'For Your Eyes Only' email accounts. 
The General Rut
10. Seek external support 
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For people in a relationship for the long term, couples therapy may be both a reasonable and sometimes necessary choice. 
11. Not all relationships are worth saving
While all relationships go through phases of lesser closeness, some people just aren't compatible. If you're unsure whether to stick around, seek professional help from personal or couple therapy. It goes without saying that emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse is never okay. 
12. Work on yourself first
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This key factor is often overlooked. Relationship satisfaction is tied to personal satisfaction, therefore, the happier a person generally is, the happier they are likely to be in a relationship. On this note, don't rely on a partner to make your life better, rather, work on making your life great regardless of whom you are with. 
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