If you feel like your relationship has reached a bit of a plateau—or even fallen into a rut—it’s natural to want to make a big change, completely transform everything, and bring the two of you closer together. And while getting out of the rut is crucial and the instinct is a good one, it’s also important to look for the right tool to make that transformation happen. When you get to a certain age and a certain place in your relationship, it’s easy to assume that the one obvious thing to do is to have children.
Now, if you’ve always wanted to have children, you're prepared financially, and you both agree it’s time, having children may indeed be the right choice. But if you’re just looking for a big change, kids shouldn't be your default option. Children won’t fix a relationship that isn’t working—in fact, they’ll just make all of those things that aren’t working far more obvious. So if you feel like you need a change, there are plenty of things that can totally transform your relationship that don’t involve having children at all. Start small, get your relationship on track, then think about children—if that’s something you want.
Not sure where to start? Here are nine things that can help.
Moving to a New Home
If you feel like you need a big change, but you don’t think that having kids is the right choice for you, you may want to consider a move. Moving to a new home—or even a whole new location—can reinvigorate your relationship, giving you something to discover together. If you feel like you’re really stuck in a rut, sometimes it’s easier to give yourself a fresh start, mentally and physically.
Picking Up a New Hobby Together
If you want a smaller change, then try finding something new to try as a couple. Picking up a new hobby gives you something to learn together, which is a great way to bond, create new memories, and see each other in a new light. You can pick one thing and stick to it or you can sign up for lots of different classes and just enjoy exploring. The important thing is that you’re shaking up your routine.
Going on an Adventure
Travel is a great way to make your relationship feel new again—the two of you can get away from your ordinary context and your day-to-day annoyances and just be. Choose somewhere you’ve always wanted to go or pick somewhere that evokes a lot of romantic memories for you. Making travel a regular part of your life can definitely change your relationship.
Finding a New Job
A job you hate can affect every single area of your life. If you or your partner (or both of you) spend as much time worrying about work or complaining about work as you do actually being at work, then something needs to change. Even though being in a relationship means supporting each other, if your entire relationship becomes consumed with the anxiety or annoyances of work, then it’s going to suck all of the oxygen out of the room. Change your job and you’ll be amazed to see what else changes around it.
Keeping your sex life alive is important. Everyone has a different sex drive, and that’s OK—you should never feel pressured to have more sex than you desire or feel comfortable with. But if your sex life has dropped from what’s normal to you, try to get that intimacy back. Reconnecting physically can have a huge emotional impact.
Maybe you have to make more of an effort to have sex, but maybe you just want to transition to other forms of physical intimacy—in that case, make sure you’re making time to touch each other, whether that’s hugging, curling up on the sofa, or being more playful.
Spending More Phone-Free Time Together
If you want to change your relationship, try putting the phones away—and if you really want to transform your relationship, agree to spend more time together without screens at all. Remove the TVs, the phones, and the laptops, and try to do things like going out for dinner, going for a walk, or just talking again. Without the distractions, that time will mean so much more.
Creating a Bucket List
If you’re goal-oriented people, creating a bucket list is a great way to add some excitement to your relationship and bring you closer together. You can both add some things you’ve always wanted to do—anything from a pottery class to visiting Spain to skydiving—and one by one, start checking those things off. You'll feel productive on a whole new level.
Reinstating Date Night
If your date night has gone, it’s time to get it back. This simple change can actually have a huge impact. Date nights don’t have to be expensive—a walk around the park and a single drink in a bar can do it—but it’s about setting aside that time. Regular date nights add romance and quality time back into a relationship without having to think too hard.
Checking in Every Single Day
Finally, if you feel distant from your partner and you really want to improve your relationship, try checking in about your day, every day. Take some time, even if it’s only five minutes, to ask each other about how your day was and really listen. Sometimes a little change like that can create a shift in attitude and remind you not to take each other for granted.
Having children is a great option for some couples, but you shouldn’t default to such a huge decision unless you’re really sure. If your relationship needs a change, there are plenty of ways you can totally transform your partnership. As long as you both decide to put the effort and time in, there are so many options to bring the two of you closer together.