Long term relationships are like roller coasters for two reasons. The first is “ups and downs.” The second is that roller coasters operate on a closed loop. Relationships — with those ups and downs — run in cycles. There are periods of smooth sailing followed by inevitable “rough patches.”

Rough patches are usually brought on by external stressors: a new job, money issues, family drama, children. It’s during these challenging times when we have to dig deep for empathy and compassion for our partner. This is when spending quality time with each other should become your first priority.

7 Activities to Strengthen Your Relationship

7 Simple Activities That Bring Couples Closer

1. Sleep together.

The easiest way to spend more time together is to power down your screens and go to bed at the same time. You may think you’re “just sleeping” but research has shown that going to bed at the same time as your partner will encourage you to view your daytime interactions more positively the next day. Going to bed together is more likely to encourage cuddling and intimacy. “Pillow talk” is also associated with trust, relationship satisfaction, and closeness.

2. Travel together.

You don’t have to plan the ultimate drool-worthy made-for-Instagram vacation to spice things up with your partner. “Traveling together” could be interpreted as a weekend getaway or a daytrip to a new hiking trail or neighboring city. Physically removing ourselves from the negative environment we’ve created at home will be a breath of fresh air in your relationship. Exploring new places together will bring you closer by creating new fun-filled memories to share..

3. Try a new hobby.

Closeness is created through shared experiences. When trying a new hobby, think outside the box! The hobby could be joining ‘quiz night’ at a local pub, participating in a sports league, learning a new language, rock climbing, volunteering, or learning how to play a board game together. Come up with lists of things you’d like to learn and compare to see what interests overlap. You might be surprised to find you have more in common than you think.

4. Do the “little things.”

Digging deep for empathy is hard, especially if you’re harboring resentment for your partner. Sometimes the best way to get past resentment is to go through the motions of kindness and sincerity. Try doing something small for your partner once a week without looking for a ‘thank you’ in return. Does your partner do the dishes every night? Take out the trash? Have you noticed that they need new socks? We feel happy when we do nice things for others. Over time, your kindness will instill your partner with gratitude and you will see kindness in return.

Activities that Strengthen Relationships

Research has shown that going to bed at the same time as your partner will encourage you to view your daytime interactions more positively the next day.

5. Cook together.

Cooking is an activity that encourages you to work together every day. The dishes don’t have to be complicated. For example, if you’re making dinner, one person could make the salad and the other could make the main. When you’re cooking you will be in the same room together, communicating, and will be less likely to stare into your cell phone. Once you get comfortable with the routine, mix it up and make new recipes together as a team.

6. Share a book or article.

If conversation is lagging, try reading the same book. This will provide an ice breaker during a period when you’re not connecting. Another solution is for you and your partner to send each other articles that you read during the day that you each find interesting. Not only will it give you something to discuss, but you’ll learn more about your partner’s opinions and interests in the process.

7. Meditate together.

Practicing mindfulness meditation benefits relationships in a number of ways. First, it’s another activity that you can share. More importantly, mindfulness meditation releases anxiety. With a less anxious brain, we are less likely to let stress from finances, work, or parenting affect our attitude toward our partner. In short, meditating together will help you bounce back from disagreements faster and get you back to being ‘you’ again.

Learn how to make mindfulness meditation a part of your relationship with a 3-minute guided meditation. Visit avsmindfulness.com to learn more about the upcoming release of our mindfulness meditation app!