When you’re in a relationship, it’s easy to take your partner for granted. Especially if you’re busy at work, or raising children or volunteering for a good cause. In other words, if you’re a regular person who needs to fit 48 hours in a day. But every time you put off paying attention to your partner you are putting your relationship on the back shelf and signaling its unimportance. If that is not the message you want to send, here are some suggestions:

1) Engage in romance. This, of course, is very personal, but critical. It’s so easy to let romance fade when your busy lives take over. Many couples have planned date nights that are ironclad. But you don’t have to make a big deal out of it. Just a tender touch as you pass you partner at the computer. A back rub. Candle light at dinner. A walk under the stars. These are the small, sweet moments that make life with your partner so worthwhile.

2) Stay on the same team. You are working together in a partnership. The moment you gossip about his bad habits behind his back, you are betraying him. Even more so when you “joke” about him in front of his face. He has to know he can trust you to support him, and you need the same from him. But you can’t expect him to have your back when you don’t have his.

3) Be generous with alone time. If you want to be a good partner, try to be sensitive to how much time your significant other needs to be alone to regroup. Be understanding when he wants to be with his football buddies. Surprise her with a day at her favorite spa. You don’t have to be together all the time. Give yourself and your partner time to recharge your batteries separately.

4) Be honest. No, you don’t have to tell her she looks fat in those pants. White lies are part of everyday navigation through life. But try to be as straightforward as possible. Lying is often the cowardly way to go. When you admit you’re wrong or you made a mistake, it might be tough for you, but it will endear you to your partner. Every lie or untruth is a barrier to good communication and therefore a barrier to a good relationship.

5) Don’t make your partner the bad guy. You have kids. Or pets. Or in-laws. Some kind of responsibility to others. And you no doubt have rules you have to abide by. Kids have to do homework. Pets have to stop jumping up on visitors. In-laws have to get along without you on certain holidays. If you are wishy-washy about these rules, then you put your partner in the position of having to enforce them to keep order. You put him in an undesirable role, and the dynamic of your relationship changes for the worse. You need to step up and take one (or several) for the team.

6) Always be faithful. It doesn’t matter how open your think your relationship is. Cheating is a sure-fire way to destroy trust, without which you will have no relationship. If your partner tells you it’s okay, he is lying and covering up his own affair. Or, he doesn’t feel the same way about you anymore—he just doesn’t care. Or he does care, and is smothering his jealousy while trying to appear open-minded. In any case, being unfaithful won’t help. Being loyal will.

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional.  If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch.  You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.